Mpumalanga, (Zulu for “the place where the sun rises”), is a province in eastern South Africa, bordering the nations of Swaziland and Mozambique. It embraces the southern half of the iconic Kruger National Park KNP), a large nature reserve, home to the Big 5 and other abundant wildlife. The province’s magnificent Blyde River Canyon, among the world’s largest, is known as a green canyon because of its subtropical temperature and biomes.
Formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal, Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations. People are drawn to the province by the magnificent scenery, abundant fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870’s gold rush era and wealth of fascinating tribal legends.
Mpumalanga’s Big 5 tourist route includes:
The Panorama Route starting at Nelspruit with the unique Lowveld Botanical Garden. It moves to White River with excellent golfing green and a Motor Museum. Sabie brings offers a plethora of activities such as 4×4 trips, abseiling and a large variety of high adrenaline activities. Pilgrims Rest, with its historic gold rush history, boasts many pubs and restaurants with excellent faire.
Graskop is considered the highlight of the Panorama Route, with attractions such as God’s Window, the Lisbon and Berlin Falls, The Pinnacle, Bourke`s Luck Potholes and of course, the scenic Blyde River Canyon with its Three Rondavels.
The Panorama Route ends at the Swadini Forever Resort with a large variety of activities from boat trips to Microlight fights.
The Heritage Route consists of 14 towns laid out across cosmos country, as well as the grasslands and wetlands regions of the province – Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Balfour, Breyten, Carolina, Chrissiesmeer, eManzana (formerly Badplaas), Ermelo, Hendrina, Mkhondo (formerly Piet Retief), Morgenzon, Perdekop, Standerton and Wakkerstroom. Many of these towns played an important role in the province’s history and are a crucial part of its cultural heritage. These towns also showcase some of the province’s finest landscapes and natural attractions, from ancient Bakoni settlement ruins, geological rock formations and Bushmen rock art to Anglo-Boer War battle fields and farmlands far removed from bustling city centres.
The Liberation Heritage Route highlights the key freedom fighters who fought for justice and freedom from oppression, as well as destinations which featured prominently during the liberation struggle. Six towns which were extensively involved in the anti-apartheid liberation struggle include Bethal, Daggakraal, Ermelo, Saul Mkhizeville (formerly Driefontein), Secunda and Volksrust.
The Genesis Route lies in the heart of Mpumalanga in the Makhonjwa Mountain Range. The 220km figure eight Route connects the historic town of Barberton to the holiday destination of Badplaas and the agricultural community of Low’s Creek. It showcases some of Mpumalanga’s most diverse landscapes from rolling savannah grasslands to rocky mountain ravines and indigenous forests. It had recently been awarded tentative World Heritage Status, making it only the ninth place in South Africa to do so.
The Route is home to Big 5 safari’s, rich in Gold Rush history and its unique geology is found nowhere else in the world, packed full of vibrant cultural experiences and action packed adventures. It also provides excellent spots for those wanting a relaxing weekend getaway.
The Cultural Heartland is the ‘Gateway to Mpumalanga’ for those travelling from Gauteng and parts of Limpopo Province and provides a beautiful introduction to the province. It includes eMalahleni (formally Witbank), Kraanspoort, Middelburg, Ogies and Stoffberg, as well the popular holiday destination, Loskop Dam.
The Cultural Heartlands tour epitomises the vibrancy and spirit of South Africa’s ‘Rainbow Nation,’ with its mix of culture, history, wildlife, industry, agriculture and adventure, all of which have their place in the region and give it its unique appeal.
It is an area characterised by a mix of rolling Highveld grasslands, mountain bushveld, dams, rivers and temporary pans. These diverse habitats is home to a wide selection of South African plants and wildlife, including a number of rare and endangered species such the Woolly Cycad, nowhere else to be found in the world! It is also home to the colourful Ndebele people with their striking traditional dress and painted houses, a rich agricultural region.