The town the world almost forgot: the hidden history of Waterval Boven

It’s hard to imagine the rolling hills and spectacular vistas of the Waterval Boven area around Saragossa Game Reserve harbouring anything as vicious as a war, but some of South Africa’s most famous battles were fought here. The quaint little town has a scintillating history- and we at Saragossa Game Reserve are here to let you in on it.

Very little of the heartbreak that was the Anglo-Boer war marrs the scenery today. There’s Krugerhof [the home of Paul Kruger before his exile] and some war graves- or at least that’s all you can see for definite. There’s rumours of a ghost if you’re in the mood for a little spook hunting! The war is far from the only history the town has seen, though, as many historical buildings can be found in this little town. Waterval Boven has its roots in the railway industry, once playing home to thousands of railway workers as the steam lines expanded to the area. Sadly steam trains are barred from SA’s modern railways, so you can no longer see them chugging down the local rails, although a few of the engines remain for you to explore. The beautiful station has also been restored for you to visit, and the railway tunnel remains an iconic part of the local landscape.

Waterval Boven, founded in 1895, boasts a sister town, Waterval Onder. The two names literally mean ‘above/below the waterfall’, and both fall in the Emgwenya municipality.

Today, the area is prime for those looking to move away from the hustle and bustle of all-business Joburg, and the area has undergone some gentrification- you’ll see holiday homes scattered among those of the permanent residents. Activities that can be enjoyed in this area include abseiling, a visit to the interesting Kruger Hof museum or a visit to our local pub for a refreshing cool drink and a chance to meet some of the locals.