Mpumalanga Travel Guide
Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga ©
Mpumalanga, meaning 'land of the rising sun', is a province rich in wildlife, African culture, pioneer history and natural beauty. Situated in the east of the country, north of KwaZulu-Natal, it borders Swaziland and Mozambique and encompasses the southern section of the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
Mpumalanga is 'Big Game Country', and the Lowveld is the setting for dozens of private game reserves and luxury lodges that abound in bird and animal life. Nelspruit is the capital and gateway to the province, situated two hundred miles (325km) east of Johannesburg, and is South Africa's fastest growing city with a vibrant Central Business District. Although not much of a tourist attraction in itself, Nelspruit is situated in the heart of a region rich in natural attractions, which makes it a favourite jumping off point for exploring the Lowveld area. The city's train station and airport welcome travellers several times a day, most of whom are en route to the Kruger National Park, whose southern Malelane Gate is about 40 miles (63km) from Nelspruit.
It is not only those interested in safaris that come to Mpumalanga, however. Besides wonderful opportunities for bird watching and game viewing, the area is also scenically beautiful with its mountains, valleys, waterfalls, canyons and panoramic passes. Mpumalanga's lack of development means more space for its natural finery, which is particularly evident along its scenic meander known as the Panorama Route that takes in spectacular sights along the eastern slopes of the escarpment such as the Blyde River Canyon and God's Window, as well as lesser-known vistas like Bourke's Luck Potholes, Wonder View and the Three Rondavels. The little town of Pilgrim's Rest is a popular attraction for those interested in the history of the 1870s gold rush, while streams that once held the promise of gold are now a haven for trout and fly-fishermen, particularly near the town of Dullstroom. The region is also home to the Ndebele people, famous for their beadwork and uniquely painted houses.
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