Attractions & Activities

Boven Trout Lodge is ideally situated from which to savour the exceptionally scenic Mpumalanga province, which includes Kruger National Park, Dullstroom, the Skurweberg, the Long Tom Pass, Sabie, Graskop, God’s Window, Kaapsehoop village, Sudwala Caves, Nelspruit, Blyde River Canyon, Baplaas and Pilgrim's Rest.

The region is also rich in natural and historical heritage, including the nearby Elands River Waterfall (the second longest in Mpumalanga), the historical NZASM railway tunnel and the Dutch-built Five Arch Bridge. Not to mention the countless Anglo Boer War sites in the region, and the last home of the President of the Boer Republic, Paul Kruger’s house at nearby Waterval Onder.

Waterval Boven is an internationally acclaimed rock climbing centre, with incredible abseiling, mountain biking and hiking opportunities. This is also the very heart of trout fishing territory, not to mention the fantastic horse riding available.

You have entered the enchanting land of waterfalls, bushveld and forests – Welcome!
Here’s two out-of-the-ordinary things to do in Waterval Boven...

1. Site of the 'Waterval Boven train disaster'
From Peter Delmar’s ‘The N4 Book’ (available from all good bookshops)
Just north of the famous Waterval Boven tunnel, between the road and the town, you can make out an arched concrete bridge over the Elands River. This is the scene of one of the most horrific incidents in Mpumalanga's history.

Just after midnight on November 15 1949, train number 513 pulled into Waterval Boven station. It was a special passenger train carrying 500 Mozambican miners back home. In driving rain, two new steam engines were hitched to the front of the train. Driver Green would customarily been in charge of the front engine, because he was the senior of the two drivers.
But, for some reason, on this night, he was in the second engine and Driver Van Rooyen in the first. At 1.15am the train - fifteen coaches, two locomotives and a guard's van - left Waterval Boven. It was supposed to take twelve minutes to do the 8km stretch to Waterval Onder.
As the locomotives crossed the bridge the train derailed. Six coached plunged into the river, one was left teetering on the brink and the engines were derailed.

Author Jose Burman wrote: 'True, a couple of folks with tender stomachs turned back, unable to endure the carnage, the screams and the heart-rending cries that rose from the wrecked carriages. But the rest of them pressed on, plunging into the rescue without thought of self, colour, race or creed.'

2. The NZASM railway tunnel

From Peter Delmar’s ‘The N4 Book’ (available from all good bookshops)

The railway tunnel at Waterval Boven is the most famous relic of the NZASM. About 210 m long, blasting and drilling began in both directions on 18 October 1892, the two teams meeting eleven months later. 'When the centre and levels were checked in the middle of the tunnel they were correct within two inches [5 cm].' Between Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder a rack-rail system was introduced. In a nutshell, this involved a series of closely spaced racks running between the rails which the locomotives could 'hook' into. From Waterval Onder the rack locomotive would be at the back of the train, pushing it uphill, while the opposite would happen at Waterval Onder, with a rack loco in the front, acting as a brake on the train (sometimes there were locomotives both in front of and at the rear). With a gradient of one in twenty (much more than the recommended maximum of one in fifty), trains moved extremely slowly through the tunnel. The gaps on either side of the train and the tunnel walls were no more than half a metre.

Info: When travelling eastwards along the N4 pass Waterval Boven, drive through the modern tunnel. Turn immediately left afterwards onto the tarmac shoulder. Don't leave possessions visible in your vehicle and preferably visit the tunnel in a group. Guides wearing reflective vests are available, but check their credentials and negotiate with them regarding a tunnel tour should you want one. The guides receive a stipend, so tipping for their services should be your prerogative.

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