Emgwenya, previously known as Waterval Boven, lies at the foot of the South Hills of the Drakensberg and along the route from Johannesburg and Pretoria to the Kruger National Park. It is one of the towns along the picturesque Highlands Meander in what is known as the 'Trout Triangle' of Mpumalanga!
Fly fishing enthusiasts love this part of the country and there are numerous dams and rivers in and around Emgwenya and with other towns such as Lydenberg, Dullstroom and Machadodorp close by, fishermen can have a new fishing experience every day! For the more adventurous, Emgwenya is renowned for rock climbing cliffs and rock climbing fans travel from far and wide to tackle the challenge of the 150 traditional and 450 sport rock climbing routes of the area. Other popular outdoor activities include hiking, horse riding, birding and mountain biking.
There is a strong historical aspect the town and its link to the Dutch Railway Company and the old railway tunnel and five arch bridge, both national monuments, are well worth visiting. Oosterlijn Steam Train Safaris have kept the history of the railroad alive by running restored vintage trains to a variety of destinations around Waterval Boven, providing an exciting way for visitors to enjoy this beautiful region.
This was also the last place of residence of President Paul Kruger before his departure for Europe and his house is now a small Museum.
Accommodation in and around Emgwenya includes Guest Houses, self-catering cottages, B&B’s, Fishing Farm Estates and Backpackers.
Emgwenya receives approximately 660 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during Summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 24˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 3˚C and 16˚C.
There are daily flights into Lanseria Airport, approximately 283 km’s away along the N4 and O R Tambo International Airport, approximately 244 km’s away via the N4 and N12. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
The Dutch railroad company, NZASM, established the town as a supply depot while constructing the Eastern Line Railway, a railway link between Pretoria and Komatipoort in the late 1800s. The Transvaal Republic acquired about 78 hectares of the farm Doornhoek, lying on either side of the line.
Waterval Boven, means 'above the waterfall' in Dutch and it received its name due to its location on the fringe of an escarpment in the Drakensberg Mountains which is above the 75 meter high Elands Falls. Its sister town, Waterval Onder, 'under the waterfall', lies at the base of the escarpment.
The cog wheel rail ascending the slopes of the mountain between Waterval Onder and the town is the only one of its kind in Africa, and a depot for the cog wheel locomotives was established at Waterval Boven. The town was administered by the railways until 1946, when it was transferred to a health committee.
2006 marked the 67th year since the historic train disaster where 63 Mozambican labourers died in a train accident in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, 16 November 1952. This is a tragedy never to be forgotten in history of Waterval Boven.
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