Umkomazi River

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Coordinates: 30°12′1″S 30°48′4″E / 30.20028°S 30.80111°E / -30.20028; 30.80111
Umkomazi River
uMkhomazi, Mkhomazi, Umkomaas
Surf near the Umkomazi River mouth at Umkomaas
Name origin: Meaning 'the place of she-whales' in the Zulu language[1]
Country South Africa
Region KwaZulu-Natal
Source Near Thabana Ntlenyana
 - location Drakensberg, Lesotho
 - elevation 3,000 m (9,843 ft)
Mouth Indian Ocean
 - location Umkomaas
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 30°12′1″S 30°48′4″E / 30.20028°S 30.80111°E / -30.20028; 30.80111
Location of the Umkomazi River mouth

The Umkomazi River is a river in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.[2]


It rises in some of the highest eastwards-facing slopes of the Drakensberg mountains, near the mighty Thabana Ntlenyana. The river flows southeastwards towards the Indian Ocean, which it enters through a navigable estuary at Umkomaas, about 40 km southwest of Durban.[3] Its main tributaries are the Loteni, Nzinga, Mkomazane, Elands and the Xobho River.[4]

Towns on the Umkomazi basin include Bulwer, Impendle, Ixopo, Craigieburn and Boston. Presently the only dam in its catchment area is the Ixopo Dam, but other dams are planned.[5]

The Umkomazi is part of the Mvoti to Umzimkulu Water Management Area.[6]


The Mkhomazi State Forest and the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area are protected areas located in the upper course of the Umkomazi River. [7]

The Scaly Yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) is a fish found in the Umkomazi River System as well as in the Umgeni, Umzimkulu, Tukhela and the Umfolozi. It is a common endemic species in KwaZulu-Natal Province and it lives in different habitats between the Drakensberg foothills and the coastal lowlands.[8]

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