Although there are taller waterfalls in eSwatini (former Swaziland), the beautiful Phophonyane Falls are the best known.


Waterfall is located in lush natural forest and is the central attraction of Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve (area – 600 ha). Forests have very high biological diversity, e.g. 240 species of birds have been observed here.

Phophonyane River here forms some 2 km long series of rapids, pools and waterfalls, in total falling per some 240 m. The 80 m tall Phophonyane Falls are the highest. Waterfall does not form a vertical plunge – the stream slides down along a steep surface of gneiss.

Phophonyane Falls, eSwatini
Phophonyane Falls / René Clausen Nielsen, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0.


According to a legend this fall was created by lament of beautiful maiden, who lost her beloved. This man had to present a skin of leopard and went to hunt to Gobolondlo Mountain. Witches of this mountain seized him and man was turned into a white flower.

Unique geology

Waterfall has formed on Phophonyane River, which flows here along a border of two ancient continental plates – Barberton Greenstone Belt. The exposed stone – gneiss – is approximately 3.55 billion years old and belong sto world’s oldest exposed rocks. Thus the area around the falls is of high interest to geologists and, well, gold also has been found here.


  1. Phophonyane Falls ecolodge & Nature Reserve. Accessed in the 2nd June 2013.
Phophonyane Falls on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 25.8988 S 31.2957 E
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: 2.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Africa, eSwatini, Hhohho, some 10 km north-east from Piggs Peak, in Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve
Height: 80 m
Stream: Phophonyane

Landmarks of eSwatini

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, eSwatini
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary / Vaiz Ha, Flickr / CC BY 2.0.
This small country offers several outstanding landmarks. Most interesting among them are world’s oldest mines – the 42,000 years old Lion Cavern and the amazing, more than 4000 years old cliff paintings in Nsangwini Rock Shelter.

Waterfalls and rapids

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

Recommended books

Swaziland (Bradt Travel Guide)

This is the only dedicated, in-depth guide to Swaziland. Author Mike Unwin explores the excellent wildlife reserves and wild hiking trails offering waterfalls, rock art and prolific flora and birdlife. He introduces travelers to the country’s rich and varied landscapes encompassing both the mountainous western ‘highveld’ and the dusty eastern ‘lowveld’.

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