Here are 7 amazing places to visit in Mpumalanga - a mix of natural wonders and historically fascinating sites.
1. Shangana Cultural Village
Visit the residents of one of the traditional villages of Shangana and share in the way of life of the Shangaan people. Here you can meet the locals and learn more of their history on daily tours while appreciating the brightly painted Ndebele houses and beautiful beadwork in the museum village of Botshabelo. The bustling Marula Market, where local craft people make and trade their traditional handcrafted arts and crafts, is open daily and a thriving hub of industry. Plan your visit around one of the popular Evening Festival’s in the Chief’s Kraal. Watch , where cchoirs, actors and dancers gather to tell the story of the Shangaan people and enjoy and traditional beer is passed aroundserved on large wooden trays decorated with leaves and wild flowers. The more adventurous can opt to stay overnight in the village as accommodation is available.
Dullstroom, one of the coldest towns in South Africa, is also the country’s premier flyfishing destination. The quaint village is located in beautiful natural surroundings. Aside from trying your hand at hooking a trout, you may like to participate in one of the other activities on offer such as can also enjoy horseback riding, bird watching or hiking.
3. Sudwala Caves
The Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga are thought to be the oldest in the world and were most likely formed about 240 million years ago. Visit the caves that were used for shelter in prehistoric times, and as travel back in time to when the caves were a site for the many bloody battles that were fought during the power struggle for the Swazi throne. well as the fortress of Somquba, the brother of the Swazi heir apparent in the 19th century. During your visit you will travel 600m along into the caves and 150m underground, to the central chamber of the cavern complex which is 70m in diameter and 37m high – as big as a 500-seater concert hall.
4. Panorama Route
As the name suggests, this route is one of the most scenic drives in South Africa and we can highly recommend taking a detour through it. is highly recommended. Blyde River Canyon, also known as the Motlatse (meaning “permanent river”), forms part of the Panorama Route. It is the third largest canyon, and is carved out of nearly 2,5km of red sandstone and is situated below the confluence of the Blyde ('joy') and Treur ('sorrow') rivers. Stop at one of the various view points along the route, such as God’s Window, where you can take in every angle of this natural wonder – on a clear day even seeing as far as Kruger National Park and Mozambique. Take a turn past Bourke's Luck Potholes, where centuries of river flow have carved intricate rock pools into the river bed. While on your journey look out for the abundant bird and animal life, including all five species of South African primates.
5. Pilgrims Rest
Relive the glory days of the old Transvaal gold rush at Pilgrim's Rest (and nearby Barberton, mentioned below), were both precursors to the discovery of gold in Johannesburg. making this the ideal place to relive the glory days of the old Transvaal gold rush - Tthe entire town has been declared a national monument. A novel way to experience the historic town is to go on If you’re brave enough, take the night time The Ghost Tour, where night tours which includes a visit to Alanglade House (the original mine manager’s home) and a walk among the headstones at the cemetery all the while hearing more about the many tragic stories of the penniless gold diggers of the past.
For a bit of homegrown history, stop off in Barberton, a town set in very old country, whose hills were worn threadbare by treasure hunters centuries ago. A relic of the fleeting gold fever that once gripped the nation, Barberton is home to the Sheba Gold Mine, one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world which has been in production for more than a century. Barberton was also home to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of much-loved South African legend Jock Of The Bushveld. You can visit the Barberton Museum or enjoy the rich Heritage Walk that will take you past the De Kaap Stock Exchange (built in 1887) and the Blockhouse (built by the British in the Anglo-Boer War).
7. Lowveld National Botanical Garden
This unique African garden, is located just outside Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), occupies a beautiful site in the subtropical heart of Mpumalanga, where it receives so much rainfall that it remains green throughout the year and boasts over 2 000 species of plants. Stand on the African Rain Forest suspension bridge and watch waterfalls tumble into the two rivers that cut across the garden, Shaped by the two main rivers that cut across it, the Crocodile and the Nels, there are spectacular waterfalls which can be viewed at two viewpoints in the garden and from the African Rain Forest suspension bridge. The garden is also home to the largest collection of cycads in Africa. Plan your visit Visit during spring when most of the plants are flowering for the best display.a blooming display.
Portfolio offers a superb list of luxury accommodation in Mpumalanga from which to explore this fascinating province. These include game lodges and tented safari camps, guest houses, manors and villas, guest farms, country houses, eco reserves and boutique hotels throughout the province.
Compiled by Kathryn Rossiter