Most tourists know about the nearby Howick Falls but even more impressive are the Karkloof Falls.

It is not quite clear how high are Karkloof Falls – some sources mention 88 meters but some – 105 meters and many – something in between.

Nevertheless, this is a true, grand waterfall The Karkloof stream here falls into a free fall until it hits a narrow ledge close to the base of the falls. During the winter falls become weaker but after a thunderstorm, in summer the waterfall becomes very impressive.

Falls have formed on the sandstone of Vryheid Formation (the Permian period).

If compared to the nearby Howick Falls, Karkloof Falls seem to be taller, more spectacular and more pristine. And, the best: the stream is quite clean!

The name of the stream originates from Afrikaans and means “ravine of the cart”. According to a local story, a heavily laden cart overturned in this stream sometime around 1845. The cart stayed there for a long time and thus the stream (and waterfall) got its name.

Karkloof Falls in 1898
Karkloof Falls in 1898. / from “The Story of an African City”, page 50, / public domain

Early settlers in this area considered this to be the most beautiful waterfall “in the land”. This is quite an achievement: there are many beautiful waterfalls in the Midlands indeed!

Some 500 meters above is another waterfall in the river – the 9 – 10 m tall Woodhouse Falls.


  1. Gavin Whitfield, 50 Must-See Geological Sites. 2016. ASIN: B01AGLRH8K.
Karkloof Falls on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 29.4002 S 30.2788 E
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: 3.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Africa, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Midlands, some 15 km north from the Howick town, near Shafton Grange
Alternate names: KwaNogqaza (Zulu name, meaning: “Place of the Tall One”
Height: 88 – 105 m
Drops: 1
Stream: Karkloof River

Video of Karkloof Falls

Gerhard Britz, November 2017

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Geological Journeys: A traveller’s guide to South Africa’s rocks and landforms

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