Elephant River Crossing
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Forest scene near Sabie
Formerly the Eastern Transvaal, the province of Mpumalanga lies in the northeast of South Africa and is a Safari and outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Mpumalanga is bordered by the Limpopo Province to the north and KwaZulu Natal to the south.Mpumalanga in the various dialects of the Nguni people groups is interpreted to mean 'the land of the rising sun'.
It extends east from Gauteng to Mozambique and Swaziland and is the Safari capital of South Africa. The southern half of the world-renowned Kruger National Park is situated on its eastern border with Mozambique.
Kruger is one of Africa's best game parks and the province's biggest attraction.
Kruger occupies most of Mpumalanga's and Northern Province's borders with Mozambique and is more than 20 000 square kilometers in extent - an area the size of Wales or just over the size of Israel. The scenery is exceptional and there is plenty to see and experience throughout the province.
By agreement between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the park now transcends borders into the three neighbouring countries with free roaming for animals on traditional migratory routes and known as the Limpopo Transfrontier national Park.
Kruger National Park.
Highly traversed by tourists, Kruger is the easiest African game park to drive around in on your own. As a family we relaxed at one of it's many well-run rest camps on many an occasion, where self-catering accommodation is excellent.
Most rest camps have restuarants on site and Caravan and camping facilities are also available. Guided early morning game drives are available from some camps.
Skukuza is the biggest of the camps and offers many facilities.Satara to the north is less populated, which from personal experience, was the better for spotting the 'Big five' at the time of my visit to the park.
There are a number of private reserves, which cater mostly for tourists from abroad, which offer the opportunity to escape at a price, where you may be conducted on open vehicle safaris by well-informed rangers.
The Highlands Meander
The highlands region of the province is a haven for fishermen because of its pristiine trout waters. On the Highlands Meander,
there are quaint towns rich with Anglo-Boer war history to explore also well known for fishing: Belfast, Dullstroom, Lydenberg, Machadodorp Schoemanskloof and Waterval-boven. The many rivers and cliffs present opportunities for abseiling, canoeing, hot air ballooning and paragliding.Many fly fishermen frequent these parts as rivers are well stocked with trout.The area is a birding and nature lovers paradise with spectacular wild flower displays.
The Lowveld Legogote.
Nelspruit, the provincial administrative capital of the province is the hub of the Lowveld Legogote region. From here you can head to Mocambique, Kruger via various gates, or to the wild frontier region. See gold being panned, or head toward Swaziland.
The Sudwala caves is also worth spending a day and offers a dinosaur park for children. Extended guided tours of the caves, for the more adventurous need some advance booking.
The Panorama Route
There is stunning scenery in the mountainous area of the Escarpment, a few hours drive west of the Kruger National Park and so the Panorama Route is a must while visiting the park.
Pilgrim's Rest, a former gold-rush town which is on the Panorama tourist route, has been preserved. There are about 1,700 residents and is worth visiting for its historical interests and atmosphere. Sabie is a small town with good restaurants and accommodation near Kruger park. The town is surrounded by forests, waterfalls and hiking trails.
The Escarpment towns, make good night stops to and from Kruger. Scenery is stunning as you drive around the province, where the mountains drop through passes to the Lowveld. The most famous viewpoints are - God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Three Rondavels along the lip of the Escarpment, which can be seen on a 156 km drive.
Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world, is also the largest vegetated canyon in the world. The canyon area offers some great hiking,climbing and river-rafting.
Mpumalanga Climate and best times to visit.
Mpumalaga climate is sub tropical, particularly in the low veld. A high rainfall combined with temperatures which can go up to 40%C make it hot and muggy during the summer months. The best time to visit is from the beginning of June to the end of the first week in September. Temperatures are cooler and the vegetation has less foliage and the grass is grazed back, enabling better visibility for game viewing. As it is dry in winter, animals are encountered at the water holes in larger numbers. The Malarial risk is lower at this time, but it is better to take advice on this. The Highlands is cooler in summer and can be very cold during winter.
A Rhino and calf
Particularly colourful, is the iconic Ndebele artwork that is almost synonymous with South Africa is produced in the museum village of Botshabelo.
Explore the local Shangaan culture at the famous Shangana Cultural Village, a short hop away from the town of Hazyview. The user-friendly cultural village offers visitors the opportunity to interact with the local Shangaan people .
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, near the town of Waterval Boven, is one of South Africa's most popular climbing destinations.
White River is an artistsí retreat so there are lovely studios within close driving distance where you can admire and purchase anything from paintings and sculptures to weaving and pottery. It is a nut and sub-tropical fruit farming area.
Some highlights of Mpumalaga Province.
* Historical sites and villages, old wagon routes and monuments mark the lives of the characters who came to Mpumalanga seeking their fortune. The town of Pilgrim's Rest is a living monument reflecting the region's gold fever.
* The Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve near Graskop has striking rock formations and a rich diversity of plants.
* Within the Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve, the Bourke's Luck Potholes were formed by river erosion and the action of flood water. The spectacular Blyde River Canyon is a 26 km long gorge carved out of the face of the Escarpment, the only green canyon in the world.
* The southern section of the Kruger National Park falls in this region. The Park draws a million visitors a year.