Mpumalanga means “the place where the sun rises.” It is one of the smaller provinces in South Africa, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in amazing natural scenery and variety. The Lowveld and escarpment are two of the most beautiful places in the world and are referred to as “Paradise Country” for a reason.
Mpumalanga is home to the world-famous Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. The province offers exceptional opportunities for game viewing, bird watching, horse riding, hiking, and fishing. The province is one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations and offers something for everyone.
The regions of Mpumalanga can be divided into the following:
The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in South Africa and well known around the globe. The Park lies across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa, just south of Zimbabwe and west of Mozambique. Today, it forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
You can drive yourself in Kruger National Park, but there are also companies that offer organised tours.
The Lowveld Legogote Region is at the bottom of the Mpumalanga mountain range and includes the towns of Nelspruit (Mbombela), White River, Kaapschehoop, and Kanyamazane.
The Sudwala Caves, which are one of the oldest dolomite caves in the world, the small village of Kaapschehoop and its wild horses, the mesmerising butterfly garden in the White River area, and the Lowveld Botanical Gardens, which has hiking trails, the largest collection of cycads, and an African rainforest, are all popular places to visit in this region.
The fact that the Kruger National Park is close to the Panorama Route is a big part of why it is so famous. But it is also liked because it lets people get to the Blyde River Canyon, which is a must stop place to visit. The beautiful Panorama Route goes through the north-eastern part of the Drakensberg’s Great Escarpment. In these rough mountains, the plateau stops abruptly and dramatically, falling steeply into the Lowveld and giving amazing views of the province’s grass fields.
The most popular stretch of the route winds its way from the town of Sabie via a selection of beautiful waterfalls, such as the Mac Mac Falls, Lone Creek, Sabie Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, to mention but a few, to God’s Window, the Blyde River Canyon, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
If you want to spend a couple of days on this route, Hazyview and Graskop are good places to overnight at. Along with the natural highlights, there is a long list of other things to do, such as Moholoholo, (the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre), Elephant Whisperers, Tsakani Silk Farm, hiking and mountain bike trails, farm stalls, restaurants, a coffee farm, art galleries, and culture village experiences.
In the Cultural Heartland, both South Africans and people from other countries can feel the warm spirit of Africa through the Ndebele people and their traditional knowledge and art. The colourful geometric art of the Ndebele people made the Cultural Heartland area popular all over the world.
Visit colourful villages such as Kwaggafontein, Matibidi, Waterval, Twoline, and Botshabelo. The Loskop Dam just north of Middelburg, is great for bass fishing.
Cosmos Country is in the south-western part of Mpumalanga, near the borders with Free State and Gauteng. It includes the towns of Secunda, Leandra, Delmas, Balfour, Bethal, Standerton, and Greylingstad.
In the Mpumalanga Cosmos Country area, there are a number of power plants that provide electricity to most of the countries in southern Africa. This area is where most of the crude oil in Southern Africa is made, and it also has the biggest underground coal mining complex in the world.
Even though the Cosmos country has a lot of industry, it has its own unique beauty. In late summer, a field of cosmos flowers blooms on the open grasslands of this area, turning them into a rainbow of colours.
The Highlands Meander is located in the escarpment’s upper reaches, sandwiched between the Cultural Heartland and the Panorama Route areas, and contains the towns of Lydenburg, Dullstroom, Belfast, Waterval Boven, and Machadodorp.
This area is known as the Trout Mecca, due to an abundance of fishing waters. The imposing mountains and rivers of the Highlands Meander also presents the opportunity for adrenaline pumping activities such as hot air ballooning, canoeing, rock climbing, abseiling, paragliding, and more.
The Grass and Wetlands region of Mpumalanga is a birding paradise. Located in the south eastern part of the province it borders with Swaziland, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State provinces.
This region boasts hundreds of lakes and forgotten villages in the centre area, as well as the rock formations and beautiful scenery of the tall mountains. In the Grass and Wetlands area, strange things like “frogging expeditions” and “stargazing weekends” can be done.
Lake Chrissie, is the country’s biggest natural freshwater lake and covers 1043 hectares. Around it, there are about 320 lakes and pans, most of which are on private land and are home to many birds, 20 000 lesser and greater flamingos, butterflies, and frogs.
The Wild Frontier area is found at the southeast corner of the Mpumalanga Province. It borders Mozambique, Swaziland, and the southernmost part of the Kruger National Park. The historical towns of Barberton, Badplaas, Kaapmuiden, Malelane, and Komatipoort make up the Wild Frontier.
The Wild Frontier is also referred to as the cradle of life, since some of the archaeological discoveries of the area dates back more than three billion years. The rocks found at the Makhonjwa Mountains are also said to be some of the oldest in the world.
Highlights of the Wild Frontier region include the historic town of Barberton, with its history of the gold rush days, Badplaas and its hot water springs and Komatipoort, a major Southern African crossroad in the region, linking Africa’s diverse people.
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