The area around the Elands River Falls was given the names “Waterval Boven” and “Waterval Onder” These names respectively mean “above the waterfall” and “below the waterfall”. The town of Waterval-Boven is situated “above the falls” and has retained its original Dutch name. Maatschappij” (NZASM) – (Netherlands South Africa Railway Company), which built the railway line between Pretoria and Delagoa Bay. From the town the railway line drops a dramatic 228 m down into the Elands River Valley at a gradient of 1:20, which was beyond the capability of normal locomotives, so a few kilometres of track consisted of a rack railway, with a third cogged track on which special locomotives were used. The original route of the line passed through a tunnel approximately 213 m in length and past the magnificent Elands River Falls. At Waterval-Boven, the Highveld and Eastern escarpment reach an abrupt end where it falls away over the escarpment to the Lowveld Region of Mpumalanga.
Adventure And Sport
Abseiling and rock-climbing: Abseiling and rock-climbing are some of the reasons why people visit the area with its high cliffs, sheer rock faces, river and streams.
Hiking: Explore the beautiful surroundings by following one of the following hiking trails: Apiesburg, Crane Creek Farm, Elandshoogte, Elangeni, Kaalbooi and Welgedacht Trails.
Horse-riding: Several operators in the area offer horse-riding trails along the escarpment and in the Elands River Valley.
Entertainment And Shopping
Elandskrans Holiday Resort: This popular municipal resort with its chalets, caravan park, swimming pool and shops, is situated just outside the town.
Fauna And Flora
Elands Valley Conservancy: Elands Valley Conservancy stretches from the historic old NZASM Tunnel near the town and along the Elands River for another 60 km. It incorporates the spectacular Elands River Falls, the historic NZASM Tunnel with a section of the old rack railway line still in place, the bridge and some breathtaking red sandstone cliffs and typically lush, Lowveld vegetation.
Waterval-Boven Nature Reserve: The reserve protects pockets of typical Highveld and Lowveld terrain and highlights the difference between the two.
History And Architecture
Five-Arch Bridge: This five-arched bridge of dressed stone is an impressive example of early railway engineering and lies about I km east of the old NZASM tunnel. The bridge spans the deep gorges of the Dwaalheuwel Spruit.
NZASM Monument: The NZASM Monument honours the many men who built the railway line. Many of them died and never saw the completion of the eastern line connecting the South African Republic to Lourenco Marques (modern-day Maputo in Mozambique).
NZASM Tunnel: If you have the courage, take a long, dark walk through the disused NZASM Tunnel. The tunnel and the railway bridge nearby have both been proclaimed national monuments. The NZASM Tunnel was constructed as part of the eastern railway line connecting the South African Republic to Lourenco Marques (Maputo) in Mozambique. It was completed in 1883 and abandoned in 1908 when a new railway line was constructed, eliminating the rack rail section.
Elands River Falls: The impressive Elands River Falls that gave the town its name, tumble 228m down into a plunge pool and can be found near the old NZASM Tunnel and five-arch bridge. A picnic site has been developed on the banks of the Elands River, close to the Falls.