Apr 072009

South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)

The Tugela River is the largest river in the province. The river originates in the Drakensberg Mountains at Mont-aux-Sources, itself the source of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange River and the Vaal River. The Tugela plunges 947 m down the Tugela Falls, then cuts through Tugela Gorge at the foot of the escarpment, is quickly joined by many tributaries, passes through the Ladysmith Basin, and, below Colenso, becomes narrow and deep. At Jameson’s Drift it enters the wide, open Tugela Trough, at the eastern end of which it cuts deeply through a great block of sandstone to issue onto the coastal plain. The area near the mouth is known for a number of historical sites and events. The first European visitor to the vicinity was Vasco da Gama on December 28, 1497. He named a certain cape near this area Ponta da Pescaria, due to the number of fish they caught here.

Tugela Falls is the world’s second highest waterfall. The total drop in five free-leaping falls is 947 m (3,110 feet). They are located in the Drakensberg (Dragon’s Mountains) in the Royal Natal National Park. The water is pure and safe to drink above the falls.

The upper Tugela is prime whitewater country, with a number of class III to V rapids along a 24 km stretch. Beyond Tugela Gorge, the rapids contain huge, unavoidable waves, holes and other interesting bits. The last few class III rapids are at Jameson’s Drift, and from there it’s smooth sailing to the beaches.

Historically, the Tugela (in Zulu, uThukela, meaning “The Startling One”) marked the southern boundary of Zululand.

Tugela - Tugela River Mouth



Location (from 28º 44′ 52.28″ S, 28º 52′ 42.69″ E to 29º 13′ 30.99″ S, 31º 29′ 55.76″ E)

View Tugela River in a larger map

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Find some information with the KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority.

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