Tugela and Nile – Is there a conspiracy to deny Africa its tourism glory?


When IAAF introduced a new rule that specifically targeted Caster Semenya – the 800m women’s champion many people were left wondering whether this was not another attempt to pull down all things African. Some questioned why, if this was about testosterone levels, did they leave the Jarmila Kratochvilova 800m record intact even though there are questions around her levels and also suspicions of doping when she set it in 1983. The same questions now have extended to tourist attractions like Tugela Falls in South Africa and the Nile River.

Tugela Falls is the tallest in the world – period!

There is no doubt that Angel falls in Venezuela are at a higher altitude than the Tugela falls, there is also no question that Angels waterfalls have a taller uninterrupted fall. The problem comes when they add the normal flow of the river Rio Kerepacupai Meru into the measurements. The plunge at Angel is 807 m then the river flows down a normal slope for about 400m before another 30m plunge. After the second plunge, the water no longer falls but flows naturally through rapids and there is no reason to consider that part of the waterfall.

Tugela Falls

Tugela on the contrary has five distinct free-leaping falls in rapid succession totalling 948m. In 2016 Martin Sil, head of the Czech surveyors’ team that measured the Tugela Falls again concluded that the falls are actually 983m making them the tallest in the world. They submitted their measurements to World Waterfall Database. They haven’t updated it, rather they probably would rather rely on the measurements made in the 20th century.

Now they are after Nile River!

Nile River source at Lake Victoria

Some time in 2007, a team of Brazilian scientists claimed that they had traced the river’s source to a snow-capped mountain in southern Peru. That claim would add 176 miles (284 kilometers), making it 65 miles (105 kilometers) longer than the Nile. The unpublished study, conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, was challenged by other scientists, however a number of publications in South America picked on this and ran with it.

Magnificent views from the Nile in Egypt

Does it even matter?

To some the number is the biggest attraction. Why are climbers flocking to Mt Everest and not Makalu? The numbers matter, maybe those 31m are the difference between a booming economy around Tugela and a routine visit on a lazy Sunday. There is need to measure these attractions and provide finality to the matter. In the meantime, Tugela is the tallest and Nile is the longest river in the world!!!

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