Mpumalanga Bucket List
Mpumalanga is a region known for its rich heritage, cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife, lush forests, and adventure activities such as ziplining; making it a dream holiday come to life.
With so much to see and do, where do you even begin? We’ve gone ahead and put together the ultimate Mpumalanga bucket list for you so that you can experience the best Mpumalanga has to offer!
Here are a mix of natural wonders and historically fascinating sites in Mpumalanga that simply must be on your bucket list.
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Africa, it is about the size of Israel.
This is the land of baobabs, fever trees, knob thorns, marula and mopane trees. It has the largest variety of different mammal species of any national park in the world. The “big five” – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard can be seen in their natural habitat. A multitude of other mammals like giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippo, and warthog make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks.
The Kruger Park is a self-drive destination, although there are guided tour operators, with an excellent infrastructure that includes picnic sites, rest camps, waterholes and hides. The Kruger Park is a remarkable reserve offering an incredible experience of Africa at its most wild.
As the name suggests, this route is one of the most scenic drives in South Africa and we can highly recommend taking a detour through it. Blyde River Canyon forms part of the Panorama Route. It is the third largest canyon in the world, and is carved out of nearly 2,5km of red sandstone and is situated below the confluence of the Blyde (‘joy’) and Treur (‘sorrow’) rivers.
Stop at one of the various viewpoints along the route, such as God’s Window, where you can take in breathtaking panoramic views.
Take a turn past Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where centuries of river flow have carved intricate rock pools into the river bed. Lastly, make a pit stop at the impressive Three Rondavels, Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, and Mac Mac Falls.
There’s a reason the vantage points along the spectacular Panorama Route have names like God’s Window and Wonder View. The eye (and the furiously snapping camera) can hardly take in the spellbinding sights all at once.
Experience the life of the Gold Rush era at Pilgrim’s Rest, an old mining town dotted with restored 19th-century buildings. The entire town has been declared a National Monument and is a settlement lost in time where visitors can walk in the footsteps of the early gold prospectors.
Easily explored on foot, roam the small town and admire the numerous historic structures, from the old Anglican Church and graveyard, to an authentic house from that period that now serves as a museum. The town includes a golf course, restaurants, cafes, and a variety of stores selling traditional crafts, gifts, and collectables.
Shangana Cultural Village
Situated between the southern Kruger Park and the Blyde River Canyon, the Shangana Cultural Village invites visitors to meet local people and experience the unique Shangana culture.
The bustling Marula Market, open daily, openly welcomes visitors to browse and buy unique local arts and crafts. Visitors can appreciate the brightly painted Ndebele houses and beautiful beadwork in the museum village of Botshabelo.
Plan your visit around one of the popular evening festivities at the Chief’s Kraal. This is a great place to interact with locals and simply relax and take in the hospitable culture. While you watch the ever-talented choirs, actors, and dancers gather to tell the story of the Shangaan people, you can enjoy a traditional beer, which is served on large wooden trays decorated with leaves and wildflowers. You can even opt to stay overnight in the village as accommodation is available.
Lowveld National Botanical Garden
The Lowveld National Botanical Garden, one of the nine National Botanical Gardens of South Africa, is located just outside Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit). The garden covers over 159 hectares of land, crossing both the Crocodile and the Nels Rivers. This unique African garden occupies a beautiful site in the subtropical heart of Mpumalanga, where it receives a sufficient amount of rainfall so that it remains green throughout the year.
The natural vegetation of the gardens is known as Sour Lowveld Bushveld, which is a mixture of escarpment and Lowveld, and the garden has over 600 naturally occurring plant species and over 2000 that have been introduced. There are spectacular waterfalls which can be viewed at two viewpoints in the garden and from the African Rain Forest suspension bridge.
The garden is also home to the largest collection of cycads in Africa. For the best blooming display, we recommend that you plan your visit during spring when most of the plants are flowering.
Dullstroom is a small town well known for being the country’s premier fly fishing destination. The quaint village is located in beautiful natural surroundings. Aside from trying your hand at hooking a trout, you may like to participate in one of the other activities on offer such as horseback riding, bird watching, hiking, nature reserves, camping and even festivals like the art festival showcasing local artists’ work.
Dullstroom has rich flora with its grasslands and abundance of wildflowers, with over 200 species such as pink gladiolas, osteospermums, pelargoniums, wahlenbergias, orchids, and tree ferns to name a select few.
Dullstroom is never dull with so much to do and to see. Pubs, coffee shops, and many eateries are available and provide different types of cuisine to satisfy every palate. Accommodation is easy to find with a lot of options to pick from, ranging from the luxury hotel to the camping caravans available for hire.
Mpumalanga is an adrenaline junkie’s heaven, with lots of exciting activities, from mountain biking to river rafting.
One of the most popular activities is an Aerial Cable Trail, where thrill seekers can experience the freedom of gliding over one of the natural forested valleys along the Sabie River. The Aerial Cable Trail takes you down into the valley basin, stopping along the way on a number of elevated platforms to admire the natural vegetation, birdlife and the views of the forest floor below.
Another favourite is the Tree-Top Challenge, an elevated obstacle course or high ropes course, made up of nineteen exciting elements from balancing beams, rope bridges, spider’s webs and much more, all ending on a 50m zip line. It’s suitable for people of all ages who are up for the challenge.
So the next time you head to Mpumalanga or pass by en-route, be sure to tick one of these unforgettable destinations off your bucket list.
Let us know what destination you would add to our bucket list and why.
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