Breathtaking African Waterfalls You Didn’t Know Existed
TLC famously cautioned us not to chase them, but there’s nothing more enchanting than a waterfall. The next time you find yourself daydreaming of a water wonderland, try these African destinations.
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Fun Fact: Strongest river flow in the world
The Boyoma Falls, found in Congo, is one of the busiest rivers in the world. Flowing from the Lualaba River, it is made up of seven (7) powerful cataracts over a 200ft drop. The rapids are a connection point between the port towns of Ubundu and Boyoma (also known as Kisangani) for which the falls are named. Because of the ferociousness of the rapids, a train connects the towns rather than braving waters. The people in these towns, known as the Wagenia, devised an innovative way to take advantage of the terrain. They weave baskets and attach them to the falls using wooden tripods and crevices in the rocks. These baskets trap fish as they fall over the fast moving water.
Fun Fact: Most visited site in the Azilal Province
With its beautifully green valleys, a series of working mills and orchards, the Ouzoud Falls is one of the busiest natural attractions in Morocco’s Marrakech. Ouzoud Falls are actually in the Azilal province in the Atlas Mountains. The closest village is a small town known as Tanaghmeil, right outside of Marrakech. The beauty of the falls distracts from the over 600 meter drop to the bottom. From below, tourists assess the area via a pleasant path through olive groves. The Ouzoud Falls are recommended to anyone looking to get away from city life in Marrakech. The surrounding area is undeveloped and for the most part untouched other than guided tours.
Fun Fact: On the list of “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”
Part of the Zambezi River on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the world famous Victoria Falls. Named a natural wonder of the world, Victoria Falls was named by Dr. Stanley Livingston in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain. However, it was originally called by the indigenous Tongan name, Mosi-oa-Tunya that means “The Smoke That Thunders.” Though it’s not the highest or the widest of waterfalls, it boasts the largest sheet of falling water with a combined width of over 1700 meters. A famous feature is a natural formation called the “Devil’s Pool” near the edge of the falls. There, despite the risk of falling over the edge, tourists swim and sit in the pool.
Fun Fact: The steam from the falls sustain a rain forest
Formed along the Lucala River, Kalandula Falls is one of the highlights of the Angolan province of Malanje. Spanning over 400m in width, its horseshoe-shaped falls actively contributes to the largest tributary in Africa. Steam from the Kalandula sustains an oasis of rain forest trees and greenery. Though Kalandula Falls belong to most spectacular falls of the world, it is over 200 miles from the nearest city and the roads to the falls could be treacherous without a proper guide. It takes approximately 5 hours by car to reach Kalandula Falls. If that doesn’t deter you, there are opportunities for accessing and exploring the falls year round. The weather actually rarely changes, with the month of July having the greatest possibility for cooler nights.
Location: KwaZulu Natal (South Africa)
Fun Fact: Highest waterfall in Africa. Second highest waterfall in the world.
Also known as “Thukela Falls” (meaning ‘sudden’ or ‘startling’), the Tugela Falls starts high up in the Drakensberg Mountains. It does not have a continuous flow downward, but instead water flows down five levels of the mountain in a series of falls. Because of this, there’s a debate about whether Tugela Fall is actually the world’s tallest waterfall. The Angel Falls in Venezuela is the current titleholder.
Since the Tugela Falls has such a long route to sea level, the inconsistent falls are best seen after rainfall. The upper Tugela Falls is known to freeze in cold months. There are numerous routes to the falls, with a guide, of course. The quickest route is up a series of chain ladders (not for the faint of heart). A less challenging route is a 3-day hike up the Amphitheatre Slackacking Trail. This route is peppered with lodges for sleeping overnight as you make your way.
As the largest continent on Earth, Africa offers some of the most breathtaking natural wonders. One can only expect that the wonders reflect the diversity of the regions. Nothing displays the majesty of the continent like its collection of waterfalls. So, next time you’re looking up things to do while vacationing, skip the safari and take a trip to a mountaintop.