The Shongweni Falls and Railway Tunnels

Shongweni, near Hillcrest in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, is nowadays  synonymous with the wonderful market held there every week, where you can buy everything from handcrafted silver jewellery to worm farms in barrels. What most market goers don’t know, is that below them, if they peer over the edge of the gorge, the ribbon-like Wekeweke or Kirk Falls, commonly called the ‘Shongweni’ Falls, plummet straight down to the valley floor below.

The Shongweni Market, where you can buy everything from organic vegetables to beautiful art.

As waterfalls go, it isn’t very spectacular, but if you venture down to the bottom of the gorge you will be awestruck by the railway tunnels there. Built in 1920, some of the tunnels are still part of the main Durban  – Johannesburg route, and are still used, so please keep listening for unexpected trains.

A train goes into a tunnel near the waterfall

The waterfall is also used for religious purposes, and I was lucky enough to witness the baptism of a person into the Shembe sect. The Shembe sect is a Christian sect, which has its roots in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Shembe baptism under the waterfall.

To get there, take the Shongweni turnoff on the N3, and turn off to the left at the Delville Wood station sign. Follow the road down, drive through the unused tunnels, and pop out on the other side, near the falls.

The top of the falls to is a great place to have a picnic, with the yummy homemade delicacies you bought at the Shongweni Market. NB: Champagne needs to be bought before you go to the market.

The top of the Shongweni / Wekeweke Falls is a great picnic spot.

By Kathryn Costello

I travel. I read. I get up to mischief. I write about what I have been up to. I also have fun writing down the stories that I told my daughter when she was little about a dolphin named Michaela. I am a tourism consultant. Owning and managing a successful guesthouse, working for tourism organizations and travelling has given me a lot of insight about what makes a tourism orientated business successful.


  1. Know the area very well having lived in Hillcrest for 40 years. Just a word of caution if you visit the area . Make sure their are at least two vehicles as security can be a problem!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember peering over the edge to look at the falls and being told about the tunnels. Sadly, I have only been there once, when my son was playing with a pipe band for a concert there.

    Liked by 1 person

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