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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Wagendrift dam & Howick falls

Went to Howick, a town just before Pietemaritzburg, about 75km from Estcourt. Had to go for some neck x rays. Howick is the site of a famous waterfall, the Howick falls, right in town, virtually on the edge of the CBD,  and a popular tourist site. The falls are 95 meters high, about 311 feet. The CBD is less than one kilometer to the right of the falls.

About 40 people have been swept over the falls since the first recorded victim in 1851.Who knows how many unrecorded fatalities occurred through the previous centuries. Most of the recorded deaths at the falls have suicides, but murder and accidents have also claimed their victims. The easiest place to cross the river, before a bridge was built, was just above the falls, accidents happened especially when the river levels were high. Nowadays local African women like to do their washing just a couple of meters from the lip of the falls, with their children splashing in the water around them. Watching them makes my blood run cold The main road through the town crosses the river about 500 meters above the falls.

Below the falls during flood.

Local African legend has it that there is a gigantic snake that lives in the pool below the falls. Only sangomas, (witchdoctors), can approach the snake with safety.

On my way back I took this photo of the Wagendrift dam overflowing, the roar of the water over the dam and out of the sluice gate was deafening. Took the photo from the highway bridge over the Bushmans river just below the dam. I cringed every time a big truck roared past a meter behind me. The light was almost gone, so the photo is not of the best quality.

We have had a tremendous amount of rain during the last three weeks. This dam is only a couple of kilometres from my home.

The water from this dam is used to irrigate 6000 hectares of fertile farmland in the Weenen valley around the small town of Weenen. The name Weenen means place of weeping. 


Desiree said...

I have never been to the Howick Falls, Phillip so this was a treat. Why do the women need to sit so close to the edge to do their washing, I wonder...especially with their children playing right there as well?

I wish we could get some rain now. Our dams are the lowest they've been in 4 years :(

Jo said...

Hi Phil, I wondered where you were. Hope your neck is feeling better. I get so homesick when I see the Wagendrift Dam. And we hear stories of all the rain in KZN, the Free State and Gauteng, but nothing in the Cape. You take care on that busy N3! Love and blessings. Jo

Kay L. Davies said...

The waterfall is beautiful, Phillip, I also have to wonder why the women find it necessary to do their washing so close to the falls. I'd be horrified to see children playing there.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Gorges Smythe said...

I notice the falls look white but the pool looks muddy.