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Your guide to Mpumalanga
All About Mpumalanga
The South African province of Mpumalanga is the second smallest province in the country, but within its borders you’ll find distinctive geographical features, incredible wildlife, thriving cities, and traditional villages. The province is split between high altitude grassland, called the highveld, and low altitude savannah, referred to as the lowveld. Mpumalanga’s diverse landscape and nature parks and reserves draw outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Mpumalanga’s capital city, Mbombela, in the lowveld, is the perfect homebase for you to explore this province, as it offers easy access to all the region’s natural attractions, as well as botanical gardens, museums, art galleries, and fantastic eateries serving up traditional South African and international fare.
To cover as much of the province as possible, you may want to take a drive along the Panorama Route. This scenic road, which takes one to three days to explore, traverses through the Blyde River Canyon, where you’ll pass culture landmarks like the Lydenburg Museum, home to the Lydenburg Heads — terracotta sculptures of heads created around the year 500 AD — and the Sudwala Caves, the oldest caves in the world.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Mpumalanga
Situated in the southern hemisphere, Mpumalanga’s winters run from April to August, while summers are from October to February. Since this province is home to two different landscapes, the weather does differ depending on where in Mpumalanga you choose to stay. If you intend to explore both the Highveld and the Lowveld regions of the province in one trip, be prepared for temperature variations.
During the winter months it can get quite chilly at night, though the days remain mild, so be sure to bring a jacket if you might be caught outside after dark. Winter is one of the best times for spotting animals because the lower levels of vegetation draw them out into the open as they search for food. Spring brings warmer weather, though the heat never reaches sweltering levels, even in peak summer. During the warmer months, you may hear the calls of unique migratory birds that come to Mpumalanga from all around the world. Once fall arrives, the weather tends to stay warm, but the summer temperature spikes drop off, allowing for the autumn foliage to revive and return the area to its golden colors.
Top things to do in Mpumalanga
Blyde River Canyon
Spanning 31 miles, the Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world, though it differs from those such as the Grand Canyon because it is covered in subtropical vegetation. There are hiking paths that crisscross the canyon, and you can go kayaking or whitewater rafting on Blyde River. The canyon is part of a 71,000-acre nature reserve that is also home to geological features including Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, God’s Window, and Pinnacle Rock.
At just over 300 feet tall, Lisbon Falls is the highest waterfall in the area, and more adventurous visitors are able to hike all the way to the base of the waterfall before taking a refreshing dip in the pool at the bottom. Additionally, there are several magnificent waterfalls that adorn the cliffs and gorges of Mpumalanga, some of which are in the middle of indigenous forests. Their constant mist provides some much-needed coolness when hiking through the area.
Pilgrim’s Rest is a museum town filled with relics of 1800s Victorian architecture, offering the opportunity to witness the stronghold gold mining once had in this area. The town attracted gold prospectors from 1873 until the 1880s, and many buildings from that initial rush remain, such as the Printing Museum and the Anglican Church. Check out one of the historic homes, such as the Alanglade House Museum, for a closer view into this history.