Highveld - From Gauteng to the Escarpment. The Highveld is of great industrial importance to South Africa with coal mining, steel mills, power stations and the Sasol oil-from-coal plants.
Escarpment - One of the primary tourist destinations in Mpumalanga, the escarpment of the Drakensberg running from the border with Limpopo in the north to Swaziland in the south, offers dramatic scenery, trout fishing, history and nature in abundance. The escarpment forms a dramatic boundary between the Highveld at around 1800 m above sea level and the Lowveld at around 800m above sea level.
Mpumalanga is a Swazi word, meaning "there where the sun rises".
Mpumalanga is important for South Africa's economy, especially tourism. Tourist going to the south of the Kruger National Park enter the park here and the National Road to Mozambique also goes through here. It is also the major gateway for tourist going to/coming from Swaziland.
Human history in this region starts around 46,000 years ago when red ochre was mined here. San Bushmen later inhabited the area and some of their rock art can still be found today. Some time after the bushman, the area was used by travelers from Asia for mining and trading. Between 1400 and 1700 there was an inflow of people from further north in Africa, notably the Nguni and Ndebele.
In 1836 European settlers arrived in the region and in 1871 the first of a number of gold rushes occurred with the discovery of gold on a farm near Polokwane (then Pietersburg). A number of wars followed between the boers and local tribes, as well as between the boers and Britain.
In 1926 the Kruger National Park was proclaimed and in 1948 a fisheries institute was established in Lydenburg leading to the abundance of trout farms in the area today.
For most tourist destinations in Mpumalanga, follow the N4 toll road from Pretoria. The road is in very good condition.
Alternatively, follow the N12 from southern Johannesburg, it will join the N4 at Witbank.
On the N4 between Bronkhorstspruit and Witbank, be on the lookout for an overpass that has thousands of mud swallow's nests build on its underside. It has been a nesting spot for the birds for years and is quite spectacular.
If you are heading to the southern parts of Mpumalanga, follow the N17 from Johannesburg.
One of the best ways to get around is by rental car. There is a lot to see and do in this area and you might want to change your plans on short notice as you discover new places. Having your own transport gives you the freedom to do this.
Mpumalanga is a biker's dream with scenic winding routes and relatively little traffic. There are many motorbike rental agencies in South Africa, MotoBerlin, ph: +27 (0)11 745-1515 in Johannesburg being one.
Pilgrim's Rest, ☎ +27 (0)13 768-1211, . Pilgrim's Rest is a small historical town restored to what it would have look like during the gold rush era.edit
Sudwala caves, (Follow the R539 to Sabie from the N4), ☎ +27 (0)13 733-4152 (email@example.com), . At 240 million years old, these are the oldest known cave system in the world. The largest cave in this system is the P. R. Owen Hall and is 70 meters in diameter and 37 meters high. There are daily 1 hour tours as well as a monthly 5 hour tour that takes one up to 2 km into the cave system.edit