|- location Drakensberg|
Basin area 29,100 km²
Country South Africa
|Length 502 km|
Mouth Indian Ocean
|Cities Bergville, Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal|
The Tugela River (Zulu: Thukela; Afrikaans: Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country.
- Map of Tugela River, South Africa
- B1 2 sappi tugela river plant project
Map of Tugela River, South Africa
The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls. The Mont-aux-Sources is also the origin of tributaries of two other major South African rivers, the Orange and the Vaal. From the Drakensberg range, the Tugela follows a 502 kilometres (312 mi) route through the KwaZulu-Natal midlands before flowing into the Indian Ocean. The total catchment area is approximately 29,100 square kilometres (11,200 sq mi). Land uses in the catchment are mainly rural subsistence farming and commercial forestry.
B1 2 sappi tugela river plant project
The Tugela has a number of tributaries coming off the Drakensberg, the largest being the Mzinyathi ("Buffalo") River (rising near Majuba Hill), but also the Little Tugela River, Klip River (rising near Van Reenen Pass), Mooi River, Blood River, Sundays River (rising in the Biggarsberg) Ingagani River and Bushman River. The Buffalo River joins the Tugela some 19 kilometres (12 mi) east of Tugela Ferry at 28°43′04″S 30°38′41″E.
The Blood River was named by the Boers, led by Andries Pretorius, after their defeat of the Zulu king Dingane on 16 December 1838, when the river is said to have run red with the blood of Zulu warriors. Below the Blood River is Rorke's Drift, a crossing point and a battle site, in the Anglo-Zulu War.
The Scaly Yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) is found in the Tugela River System. It is a common endemic fish in KwaZulu-Natal Province and it is found in different habitats between the Drakensberg foothills and the coastal lowlands, including rivers such as the Umkomazi.
The spelling "Tugela" was used for most of the twentieth century; it is an Anglicised version of the Zulu name Thukela. Nineteenth-century writers adopted a variety of spellings including:
Some of the variations can be accounted for by the early European writers being unaware that Zulu grammar uses prefixes, often a "i-" or a "u-", to denote the case of a noun.