Mpumalanga, which means “land of the rising sun” in the local SiSwati language, has it all. Exhilarating wildlife, secluded mountain retreats, ancient ruined cities, wild water sports, and some of South Africa’s most diverse and vibrant African cultures.
Many tourists regard Mpumalanga as a doormat for Kruger National Park, but it is well worth visiting in its own right. Pilgrim’s Rest, Sabie, Graskop, Hazyview and Waterval Boven are just a few of the places you should not miss. These towns offer accommodation in game lodges, self catering units and upmarket B&B’s and Guest Houses.
Dullstroom, a chic, attractive town is in the heart of trout country. If you are an angling aficionado, this is the place to be. The Drakensberg is the ideal spot for kloofing, rafting, hiking, absailing, mountain biking, ballooning and rock climbing.
The province’s year-round sunny weather, soaring peaks, steamy jungles and expansive waterways have also made it home to a bewildering array of adventure sport, from expeditions down the world’s oldest caves, to taking flight at the continent’s largest paragliding festival.
Though Kruger National Park is the province’s biggest draw card, you can experience the thrill of Big 5 game safari’s in many private parks as well. Safari’s can be booked at most tourist information centres. They can also supply you with information on Bed and Breakfast accommodation, from low budget to 5 star safari lodges.
Mpumalanga is the main gateway to Kruger Park, many private game reserves and the Blyde River Canyon. It is the third largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in Africa, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.
It was formed by the Blyde River, “River of Joy” cutting its way more than 1000 metres through the quartzite and Dolomite Mountains of the eastern rim of the Drakensburg escarpment.
The views of Blyde River Canyon are famous and, while you cannot drive into the canyon, there are some fabulous hiking and river-rafting possibilities in the area.
The Long Tom Pass, Gods Window, the Three Rondavels, Bourke Luck Potholes, many waterfalls and vistas make beautiful stops on your way from Johannesburg to Kruger, KwaZulu-Natal or Limpopo and can all be seen on a one-day drive from Sabie.
Highlights of Mpumalanga province
Exploring Kruger Park, North to South, overnight stops in the smaller rest camps
Hiking or rafting the Blyde River Canyon
The dramatic views of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg
A glance of the past in Pilgrims Rest
Shangana Cultural Village near Hazyview