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Mpumalanga

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Africa : Southern Africa : South Africa : Mpumalanga
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View from God's Window over the lowveld towards Maputo

The Mpumalanga Province is located in the north-east of South Africa and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Regions

Mpumalanga
  • 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 1800m above sea level and the Lowveld at around 800m above sea level.
  • Lowveld - Between the Escarpment and Mozambique includes the Kruger National Park and many private game reserves.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

The province is known for its rich wildlife.
Long Tom Canon in the pass between Sabie and Lydenburg

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.

History

Human history in this region starts around 46 000 years ago when ochre was mined here. San Bushmen [1] 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 occured with the discovery of gold on a farm near Polokwane (then Pietersburg). A number of wars followed betreen the boers and local tribes, as well as between the boers and Britain [2].

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.

Talk

As with the rest of South Africa, English is commonly used and all you need to travel.

The dominant indigenous language in the region is SiSwati. A few Siswati words you might encounter or would want to use:

  • Sawubona - Hello
  • Sala kahle - Goodbye
  • Angiva - I don't understand.
  • Ngiyabonga - Thank you.

Get in

By car

For most tourist destinations in Mpumalanga, follow the N4 toll road from Pretoria or Johannesburg. 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 it's 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.

By plane

Kruger Mpumalanga Airport has flights to Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Vilanculos. It is situated in the north of Nelspruit and only 30 minutes to the next Kruger National Park gate.

Get around

Long Tom Pass between Lydenburg and Sabie

By car

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.

By motorbike

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.

See

Do

A male elephant in the KNP.
  • Blyde River Canyon. This canyon is the third largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia
  • Kruger National Park, [3]. The Kruger National Park covers over 20,000 square kilometers and is one of the main tourist attractions in South Africa
  • Pilgrim's Rest, +27 (0)13 768-1211, [4]. Pilgrim's Rest is a small historical town restored to what it would have look like during the gold rush era.
  • Sudwala caves, (Follow the R539 to Sabie from the N4), +27 (0)13 733-4152 (), [5]. 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 metres in diameter and 37 metres high. There are daily 1 hour tours as well as a monthly 5 hour tour that takes one up to 2km into the cave system.
  • Rock Climbing

Eat

  • Biltong made of game, like Kudu, Gemsbok or Elephant.
  • Amarula

Drink

Stay safe

Stay healthy

Malaria may occur in the Lowveld regions. Consult a travel clinic or your doctor for the latest information and preventative measures. Also see the Mosquitoes travel topic.

Get out

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