Howick Falls – Howick, South Africa - Atlas Obscura

Howick Falls

Local lore says a serpent-like beast lurks in the deep basin below the falls. 


This picturesque waterfall is created by the Umgeni River plunging into a basin below. According to local folklore, a serpent-like creature dwells within the pool of water at the bottom of the fall.

The thunderous Howick Falls drop more than 300 feet. The falls also go by the name of KwaNogqaza, which translates to the “Place of the Tall One.”

It’s said that only sangomas, the traditional healers of South Africa, can safely approach the falls. Legend says the Inkanyamba, a monstrous creature with a serpent’s body and a horse-sized head, lurks within the basin. The beast is believed to have the most power in the summer, when its rage sends storms rushing across the region.

The serpent isn’t the only powerful aspect of the waterfall. People wading into the river atop the fall have been swept over the edge and sent to a brutal, watery demise. At least 40 deaths have been recorded since the falls were discovered by European explorers in the 1800s.

Know Before You Go

A platform offers the best view of the falls and is easily accessed by the nearby road. An information board tells more about the stories regarding the waterfall. It's best to go during daylight hours. Take caution if hiking near the top of the waterfall, as the river can be dangerous.

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