About Mangeni Falls

This rather beautiful and remote waterfall deserves greater regard. Surrounded by open grassland and rural settlements it is seldom visited, unless as part of an organised tour of the Battlefields, or the Southern KwaZulu-Natal birding route.

It was here that Lord Chelmsford set up camp after the Battle of Isandlwana, during which he lost half his men.

Did you know? Reaching the waterfall is not easy. Don't try it in an ordinary sedan as the gravel road can take serious strain after the rains, which is also the time you will want to head there as the falls are at their best.

Whilst the setting may be rather pastoral and the roads leading to the fall unsophisticated, the falls themselves are incredibly beautiful. During the rainy season the water falls from both sides of the gorge, tumbling over the eroded sandstone lip of the impressive drop into an implausibly small pool below.

The waterfall's backdrop is one of mountains, and more often than not blue skies, against which this tributary of the White Umfolozi River heads west of Babanango through the Mangeni River Valley. Down in the gorge below are various wooded areas. This is one of the tallest waterfalls you will see in the area; the Tugela Falls excluded.

The bald ibis roosts near the falls, whilst Verreaux's eagle breeds on the cliffs just below the falls, along with the common kestrel, and lanner falcon. During summer the black swifts move in to breed and their calls fill the gorge. Scan the surrounding grasslands and you may well see a secretary bird, white storks or the long-tailed widow bird.

The Southern KwaZulu-Natal birding route suggest that from Babanango you take the R68 between Melmoth and Dundee (passing Isandlwana Lodge) and turn left at the sign marked 'Qudeni'. After 15 km on this gravel road, turn right at a sign for 'Mangeni'. After 6.5 km take a left and head towards a few buildings in the distance. Cross a concrete bridge, and turn right onto a track (it's immediately after the bridge). Park and pop into the local police station to let them know you're visiting the falls. They will point you in the right direction.

But it is probably a better idea to join a tour of the area and see it as part of a group. Dundee tour guides sometimes offer 'free outings' that include the falls.

Need to Know

WhereMangeni Falls, West of Babanago, Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours

OvernightStay in Rorkes Drift Accommodation, KwaZulu Natal

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