Incredible Scenic Beauty of Mpumalanga… was written and submitted to Afro Tourism by Mark K. Ndlovu
Mpumalanga, meaning place of the rising sun, has it all—from exhilarating wildlife, incredibly scenic landscape, secluded mountain retreats, ancient ruined cities, wild water-sports, iconic sports facilities and some of South Africa’s most diverse and vibrant cultural traditions.
The province’s capital is Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), but the thrilling experience lies further afield in the jaws of the amazing Kruger Park and the incredibly scenic beauty of Blyde River Canyon.
Ready for a Safari experience of a lifetime? Mpumalanga is waiting to treat you to a superb time thanks to its unparalleled touristic portfolio that includes the wildlife haven of the world-renowned Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve; the scenic Blyde River Canyon, the world’s third largest and biggest green Canyon; God’s Window, three Rondavels, and amazing waterfalls. There is also history and heritage to be grasped at Pilgrims Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and Barberton rock formations that date back 3.5 billion years.
For luxury safari experience, visit the Sabi Sand. The destination is home to some of the world’s finest and most exclusive private game lodges, which frequently host celebrities and politicians from around the world.
Unlike many conservation areas that were founded over the years, the Sabi Sand has always been a wilderness area. Established in 1948, the reserve now consists of 65, 000 hectares of pristine bush.
The land is unfenced between landowners, and shares a 50km unfenced border with the Kruger National Park, these allow complete freedom of movement for the games, while the perennial Sabi Sand River after which the reserve is named, provides a constant supply of water for the animals.
There are 17 commercial lodges to choose from: the world famous Lion Sands, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, Selati and Little Bush Camps, are amongst them.
The popular route, however, is to go to the world-famous Kruger National Park. Kruger is synonymous with safari. The Park is not only one of the world’s greatest game reserves, it is also a global iconic tourist attraction.
A game Park as big as Wales in the United Kingdom, Kruger Park stretches over 500 kilometres along South Africa’s North-eastern border with Mozambique and currently encompasses nearly two million hectares of primal Africa. Few visitors pass its gates without experiencing a true conservation showcase.
There are few parks in the world today that offer anything close to the diversity of large mammals which the average visitor to Kruger can tick in a couple of days. Kruger has 24 rest camps and 17 private lodges offering a wide range of accommodation that is almost as diverse as its ecosystems.
Mpumalanga is also a golfer’s paradise, with world-class golf courses set against some of South Africa’s most spectacular landscapes. It is home to the country’s number one private golf course, the exclusive Leopard Creek—a preferred tee-off course for the rich and famous, as well as the second home of international golf icons such as Gary Player and Ernie Els.
Situated on the banks of the Crocodile River and bordering the Kruger National Park, Leopard Creek offers golfers the ultimate bushveld game. In December each year, it attracts the world’s top golfers who take part in the prestigious million-dollar tournament, the Dunhill Championship.
Here are seven popular routes for visitors in Mpumalanga:
The Panorama Route: It’s the gateway to the scenic Blyde River Canyon, sawmilling village of Graskop, the historic mining town of Pilgrims Res and the village of Sabie, known for scenic waterfalls, mountain biking and its excellent forestry museum. Further east lies Hazyview and the gateway to central Lowveld, Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park.
Highlands Meander: South Africa’s foremost trout fishing destination is set high on the temperate Mpumalanga escarpment. It is located on one of the more popular routes to the Lowveld and is an ideal stopover point for visitors.
Cultural Heartland: This is home of the Ndebele people, noted for their artistic talents. The Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, Botshabelo Cultural Village and Mission Station are prime attractions. Further south lies the mining and industrial towns of Middelburg and eMalahleni.
Wild Frontier: This is the gateway to both Mozambique and Swaziland, it borders the southern reaches of the Kruger National Park. The historic mining town of Barberton offers wonderful insight into the early mining settlements of the region. South Africa’s first Stock Exchange was located here.
Grass and Wetlands: The highland grasslands are of international significance. Notable for birding sites, with rare and endangered endemic species, the village of Wakkerstroom is one of the principal birding sites. Trout fishing, hang gliding and mountain biking are the popular attractions. Jericho, Nooitgedacht and Heyshope Dams are well-known angling waters. The central town of Ermelo is an important agricultural centre.
Cosmos Country: This important industrial, agricultural and mining region offers easy weekend access to visitors. The Grootdraai Dam is a popular water-sport destination. The town of Secunda is known for its vast fuel-from-coal plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world. It dominates the economy of the region along with numerous coal-fired power stations.
Lowveld Legogote: the Capital City, Mbombela (Formerly Nelspruit), is located on the R40 and is an excellent departure point and a perfect choice as a base for excursions to Kruger National Park, scenic Panorama route, Mozambique and Swaziland. There are lots of restaurants, lodges, hotels, shopping malls, golf venues and sporting arenas.
Mpumalanga is truly a world-class tourism destination, where a royalty treatment and unforgettable experience is guaranteed.
Mark K. Ndlovu is the CEO of South African travel and tours company, Siyaphula Leisure Pty Ltd, specialists in Southern, Central and East Africa packages.
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