South African Holidays in Mpumalanga

Lions in Sabi Sands, Mpumalanga.

Capital: Nelspruit
Population of Nelspruit: 105 300
Provincial population: 3,1 million
Area: 79 490 km2
Percentage of total area of South Africa: 6,5%
Percentage of GDP produced in Mpumalanga: 8,15%
Principal economic sectors: Mining (coal), power generation, forestry, pulp and paper, tourism

Mpumalanga is a lush, land-locked province, filled with deep ravines, verdant valleys, crystal-clear streams, magnificent waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. It is found north-east of Gauteng, and shares a long border with Mozambique. It forms the heartland of South Africa's classic safari territory, and is comprised of the Lowveld and the Highveld.

The Lowveld

Restricted to broad valleys below 1 000m above sea level, the Lowveld is what many people consider to be the "real" Africa. In this low-lying subtropical climate, broad-leafed and thorn trees co-exist happily in relatively open woodland, interspersed with long grass and, of course, game. In the far north it gets hotter and the vegetation changes to Mopane woodland. In the very northern part of the country, huge baobab trees dominate the landscape.

Much of the Kruger National Park falls into this biome. However, the division between the Bushveld and the Lowveld is somewhat blurred. The rivers here tend to be broad and slow moving and may consist of no more than a few unconnected pools at the end of the dry season, which is when wildlife congregates around the few water sources making it a good time to view them.

The Highveld

As its name suggests, the Highveld is situated at a higher altitude and is much cooler than the Lowveld. On the opposite side of the Drakensberg to KwaZulu-Natal, it consists of rolling grassland with many wild flowers and pretty streams. Much of the area has been cultivated as pine plantations, but there are still some pockets of indigenous forest. Trout fishing is very good in the dams and streams in the Dullstroom and Lydenberg areas.

The Kruger National Park

The principle tourism feature of the province is the mighty Kruger National Park, a vast wilderness region larger than the country of Israel. The Kruger National Park forms an elongated stretch of wilderness, from the southern border town of Komatipoort into the Limpopo Province, right up to South Africa's northern border with Zimbabwe. Roughly half of the Kruger National Park falls within Mpumalanga and half into the Limpopo Province.

The northerly Limpopo regions are drier and more arid than the dense bushveld of Mpumalanga, which is hotter and humid. Animals move at will through the various biospheres. And this reserve is world renowned for having the greatest diversity of species in Africa - more than 140 mammal species, 500 bird species and more than 300 different tree species, including baobabs, marulas and mopanes. The Kruger National Park and the Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Park make up the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, that spans an area of 35 000 km2, crossing both the Zimbabwe and Mozambique borders.

Accommodation in the Kruger National Park ranges from clean campsites to very comfortable game lodges. The private reserves on its borders are, without exception, very luxurious. Exclusive lodges offer outstanding accommodation, fivestar food, evening "braais" , or barbeques under African skies and night game drives led by experienced game rangers. The province is very fertile and there are many huge plantations growing produce ranging from avocado pears to citrus, which has made "agri-tourism" popular. There are also hundreds of thousands of hectares of timber plantations in the province, making driving around this region extremely enjoyable.

Mpumalanga is also home to part of the great Drakensberg range, a magnificent canyon called the Blyde River Canyon, which is the third largest and only green canyon, in the world.This system of canyons and escarpments is responsible for one of the world's most breathtaking views from a place known as "God's Window" on the very edge of South Africa's shield-shaped interior plateau.The Blyde System includes another famous site called "The Three Rondavels", with magnificent views. For those interested in culture, the painted geometric patterns of Ndebele homes and their beaded traditional clothes can be seen at villages such as the Botshabelo Historical Village.

View the Big Five

Experience a classic "Big Five" wildlife safari in one of the world's largest wilderness areas. Stay in an ultra-luxurious private lodge, or at a campsite in the Kruger National Park. Most luxury lodges in the area have five staff members for every guest, and spas are the order of the day, so relax and unwind with the help of an aromatherapy massage.

Enjoy The Amazing Scenic Beauty

Drive around the province, taking in the superb views including the Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, MacMac Falls, Lisbon Falls, the Three Rondavels, the misty hills of Magoebaskloof or the Modjadji cycad forest, to mention just a few.

Visit Pilgrim's Rest

This is a Victorian gold rush village - a living museum that is still home to several hundred people living in wooden cottages with corrugated iron roofs. Stay at the charming Royal Hotel, or in an authentic miner's cottage, and visit the Digger's Museum where yesteryear comes to life. You can even try panning for your own piece of gold.

Hiking, Biking and Trout Fishing

The astounding natural beauty of Mpumalanga makes it a hikers' paradise. The more intrepid hiker might prefer the three-day sleep-out hikes in "Big Five" territory with armed rangers. The opportunity to view San (Bushmen) art in caves around the province should not be missed. Trout fishing enthusiasts will love the area around Dullstroom with its country hotels, gentle landscapes and great fishing. Cyclists will jump at the chance to do some off-road mountain biking through farms and plantations at Umhaba in the Sabie district.

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