Chasing Waterfalls in Mpumalanga

A couple of years ago, while paging through a travel magazine I came across a stunning picture of the Lisbon Falls in Mpumalanga and became obsessed with taking a trip up there to see for myself. Each time we’d start planning a trip I’d throw Lisbon Falls in the mix but it never seemed to pan out…until late last year when the coin toss was finally in my favour. I was beyond excited.

The drive to Mpumalanga has a mystical feeling to it and I love driving through there. The roads hug the rolling forest hills, meticulously lined with pine and eucalyptus trees. Each curve on the road reveals another angle of amazing views as you make your way up and down the winding valleys.

Valley View.JPG
The view outside our backpackers

We stayed at the Valley View Backpackers in Graskop which as the name suggests has an incredible view of the valley below. They have bikes you can rent and a good base for finding information about what’s good where. It also has a large common area which is good to share a meal and meet people from all over the world over a drink.

Graskop Backpackers
The Valley View Backpackers
Valley View Backpackers
The Valley View Backpackers









On our first full day we took a drive along the panorama route and took in the breath-taking views at the aptly named “God’s Window,” marvelled at the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where the natural flow of the river has carved out this interesting patterns and caves over millions of years…

The Bourke's Luck Potholes
The Bourke’s Luck Potholes

…and of course the reason I came here in the first place…Waterfalls!

To be honest, I can’t really explain my sudden fascination with waterfalls. I just saw a picture and I was just hooked on waterfalls. There are loads of waterfalls in the area and I didn’t get to see them all because after three days my boyfriend was like “it’s a waterfall, just like all the other ones.” But, I think it would be a good idea to go back and see them from a different angle (just for variety).

Lisbon Falls
Lisbon Falls
Berlin Falls
Berlin Falls


Mac Mac Falls
Mac Mac Falls

Just after the Mac Mac Falls are the pools. Here you can have a picnic or braai and take a dip in the rock pools. We worked up an appetite on our brief walk (1 hour) on one of the shorter trails and spent the afternoon slothfully as holiday dictates you do.

Mac Mac Trail
Beautiful landscape on our walk

Our trip was mostly chilled vibes, but thankfully there are many adventure activities around. We needed these to jolt ourselves back into reality if we were going to make it back home in one piece. So we decided  Geckoing in Sabie would do the job.

MacMac Pools
Swimming in the cool Mac Mac Pools. Cool, not cold…I’m not here for that.


Geckoing, or white water tubing, is a water activity that involves a one person inflatable tube (Gecko); fast, low volume rivers and rapids…a lot of rapids (sections of the river where the river bed has a fairly steep slope, causing an increase in water speed and turbulence). I seem to keep having these experiences where I have a general idea what an activity entails and once I’ve signed up, I think “oops, this is a bit more than I thought.”

Geckoing was one of those experiences.

Our excursion began with a safety talk, a struggle to strap on my helmet and brief lesson on how to use our paddles to steer. Our guide tells us that if you fall off the tube while going down the any of the rapids, don’t try get back on or stand. Rather, raise your coccyx (tail bone/bum) as high as you can to avoid hitting any sharp rocks and glide down the rapid to calmer waters. With that we set off on out on a surprisingly scenic ride.

Geckoing 1
The Gecko is not loyal and you’ll spend some time out if it. But thanks to the  water you have to keep on moving. – Picture: Kestell Adventures

The last rapid was the largest. So much so that you had the option of giving it a miss. I decided to be brave the rapids. It was not picture perfect. As I was engulfed by the rapid water, two things went through my mind. First, “raise your coccyx, raise your coccyx! Protect that bum, girl.” Then I thought, I cannot be the author of this blog (and one of two black people on this tour) and die out here going down this rapid. No ways, so with each breath of air I shouted “whoo hoo.” I think I was very convincing.

Geckoing – For the love of things! – Picture: Kestell Adventures

Would I do this again?
Well, I think I should try others things first.

Should you?
Most definitely.



Valley View Backpackers
013 767 1112

Kestell Adventures
072 351 5553


2 Comments Add yours

  1. 2summers says:

    This post totally made me LOL. Brilliant. And so beautiful! I totally want to do this exact trip, but maybe minus the geckoing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so hilarious. I’m actually crying at that last paragraph!

    Liked by 1 person

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