The Lowveld’s Sabie Waterfall Route is an insider secret in South Africa.
If TLC is anything to go by, the chasing of waterfalls is apparently not something you should do out of free will. Unless Mpumalanga has seen an uncharacteristically high amounts of rain, then you better gas up whatever automobile you are lucky enough to have at your disposal and head down N4.
Waterfalls are an irresistible draw for travellers. And you will journey miles before managing to combine the effortless beauty of so many falls within such a short distance.
Starting in Sabie, the 50 km Sabie Waterfall Route follows the Main Road out of Sabie – R532 – both north and south west of town, connecting one waterfall with the next, the countryside a rich canvas of forested ravines, rivers, passes and valleys.
The scenery on its own is spectacular, but the six waterfalls it connects are even more so. Nowhere else in the country is it possible to combine such views, and picnic spots, with so many waterfalls.
South West of Sabie along the R532
The falls south west of Sabie are grouped close together, so that if you are pressed for time, these four are a good bet.
Starting off with the easiest one on the list, Sabie Falls is right in the middle of town and the walk around the area is quite fun. It is easy to miss so, heading North out of Sabie make sure you watch out for the Sabie River Camp sign as soon as you cross the river and make a left.
Bridal Veil Falls
The delicate spray of this fall does remind one of the gossamer veil of a bride, despite its impressive drop. You’ll find Bridal Veil Falls just 6 km outside of Sabie, making it one of the most accessible falls. There is a bit of a steep climb to reach the falls, but the view is worth it.
Lone Creek Falls
If there is one waterfall you make time for, then Lone Creek Falls is it. Not only because it has one of the shortest walks from the parking area – only 200 metres shrouded in trees – but also because its long, narrow drop makes it one of the most interesting and beautiful falls close to Sabie. A particularly pretty viewpoint lies at the base of the falls.
Exactly as its name suggests, these falls drop in the shape of a horseshoe – cascading on either side of a solid rock. The last stretch of road before you reach the falls is gravel, manageable in an ordinary sedan, but you will have to take it slow until you reach the ample parking area. There are two paths, which can get slippery in the rain, to view the falls; the second to a lookout below the falls.
North of Sabie along the R532
Mac Mac Falls
Mac Mac are the first falls you’ll reach if you leave by the R532 north of Sabie. It’s a short walk from the parking area before you reach a ‘platform’ that overlooks the falls, but most tourists find the platform a little disappointing. The falls are pretty impressive.
Maria Shires Falls
Less-well known than the bigger falls, Maria Shires is pretty and private – perfect for a picnic. Like Forest Falls, not far from here, the setting is forested and tranquil. A little path to the top will take you to the graves of Maria Shires and her family. The falls are across the road from the parking.
A lovely forest walk to the falls, although not clearly marked, and not everyone manages to find it. Those who do rave about the views and the gentleness of the walk.
Lisbon and Berlin Falls are closer to Graskop and God’s Window, on the Panorama Route (this drive from Sabie north to Graskop and on to the Blyde River Canyon is exceptionally scenic). When in full flow, these falls are nothing short of spectacular.
Almost as beautiful as the Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls are a must, even if the road leading up to the view point needs upgrading. If you’re on your way to Kruger, these are one of the easiest waterfalls to add to the drive.
Doing the Sabie Waterfall Route as a circular route instead
View the falls as a longer, circular route – taking the R532 north of Sabie, and then connecting via the R36, and the R37, rejoining the R532 again south east of Sabie. In this way, one can do it over two days, including other scenic highlights.
Other highlights to include with the circular Sabie Waterfall Route:
- Rock bridge, just outside Graskop
- Pinnacle Rock
- Bourke’s Luck Potholes
- God’s Window
- Three Rondavels View Point
- Echo Caves
- Blyde River Canyon