The Mpumalanga Province is located in the north-east of South Africa and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Be aware regarding driving the passes at night. Animals and traffic.