About Phiphidi Falls

Phiphidi Falls is one of several natural sacred sites of the Venda people. The others include Lake Funduzi and the Thate Vonde Forest. The falls are used by the elders of the Ramunangi, a Venda clan, for communicating with their ancestors. It is a beautiful cascade of water surrounded by thick trees and lush vegetation.

Did you know? Before a visit to the falls, try and get permission from the Ramunangi, or contact local guides and travel companies who work with the Ramunangi people.

Phiphidi lies within a forest on the Mutshindudi River. The rock above the waterfall is called LanwaDzongolo, and the pool below the waterfall, Guvhukuvhu . Both are considered holy. The Venda believe that the water and the pool are the home of ancestral water spirits to whom they bring offerings of beer and grain.

A select group of women of the Ramunangi, known as Makhadzi, or women of power, carry out a series of rain rituals where they speak to their ancestors to pray for rain, health and peace.

These sacred sites are the core of the vhaVenda culture and community, and the people believe they should be both respected and protected. Unfortunately Phiphidi Falls, because of its attraction to tourists, has been tampered with and a road built along the river without consulting the custodians.

When construction began on a series of chalets, a bar and a restaurant at the head of the waterfall, the Ramunangi elders drafted a legal claim of rights to the sacred sites at Phiphidi Waterfall, petitioning the High Court to stop the building. The BBC ran a story on saving ‘sacred sites’ from tourist chalets.

The Venda community believe that if their sacred sites are destroyed that famine and disease will result. The elders joined forces with a local organisation called Dzomo la Mupo (Voice of the Earth), which represents sacred sites.

Need to Know

WherePhiphidi Falls, Phiphidi lies within a forest on the Mutshindudi River near Thohoyandou, Soutpansberg, Limpopo, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Thohoyandou Accommodation, Limpopo


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