Did you know Mpumalanga means "land of the rising sun?" It may not be high on your travel wish list, but it should be. The romantically named province will charm your socks off, with its jaw-dropping diversity of spectacular natural landscapes offering plenty of adventure or relaxation.
Here are just a few of our Flight Centre favourites of what to see, do and eat in Mpumalanga.
Mpumalanga bush breaks
Think of Mpumalanga and chances are 'the Kruger' will spring to mind. Mpumalanga is the southern gateway to South Africa's most famous national park, welcoming local and international visitors year-round. Whether you're a first-time safari-goer or a repeat visitor, the Kruger National Park offers something for every type for traveller. It makes an ideal road trip destination for the Gauteng dwellers, situated about a four-hour drive from Johannesburg.
Tick off the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) – and don't forget about the Little Five either (elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise).
Apart from getting your fill of game, you can relax around the pool, enjoy afternoon naps or swims and share stories around the campfire come nightfall.
There's accommodation to suit every budget. For travellers looking for a more exclusive experience, consider a stay at one of the luxury lodges within the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. This private reserve is adjacent to Kruger, and there are no fences between the two with no day visitors allowed.
Mpumalanga's Panorama Route
The Kruger may be Mpumalanga's most famous treasure, but it is certainly not the only one.
The province's perfectly named Panorama Route makes for the most panoramic of road trips.
Here, you can take in the majesty of God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon (one of the world's deepest canyons), Bourke's Luck Potholes and other scenic viewpoints along this route. Travellers are rewarded with rivers, waterfalls, canyons, rock formations and breathtaking views that stretch to the horizon. Visit the regions’ many waterfalls and lace up your hiking boots to hit the trails.
If you're wondering where to stay, and are looking for all the creature comforts of a hotel stay, the Protea Hotel Malaga and the Casa do Sol Hotel and Spa Resort are situated close to the Kruger National Park and are suitable bases from which to explore the Panorama Route.
The Panorama Route is about a four-to-five-hour drive from Johannesburg depending on where you're starting.
Graskop Big Swing
Along the Panorama Route, you'll find the big attraction of Graskop. Take the plunge 70 metres into the gorge below on the Graskop Big Swing, one of the highest cable gorge swings in the world. Free-fall (seated in an upright positioned harness) 68 metres in only 2.3 seconds!
If you're not quite up to the big swing, there's an 80-metre zip-line across the gorge instead. Or step into the Graskop Gorge Lift, a glass elevator, to travel adrenalin-free down the cliff face. From here, you can walk on the elevated walkways and suspension bridges through the forest.
Visit quirky Pilgrim's Rest
Step back into gold rush history as you drive into the quaint town of Pilgrim's Rest. The town must be seen to be believed. You'll truly feel as if you've stepped back in time! The whole town is a national monument, with its historical buildings restored to look exactly as they did in their gold rush days, around the late 1800s. It's fascinating for history and culture-loving travellers.
Check into the fly-fishing and whisky capital of Dullstroom
Check in to the Mpumalanga Highlands in the town of Dullstroom, also known as Emnothweni. It's known as the premier fly-fishing capital of South Africa and makes for a tranquil weekend getaway. There are cosy pubs, whisky bars and accommodation where you can snuggle up next to the fire or explore the magnificent outdoors.
With so many fantastic weekend options on our doorstep in Mzansi, local is genuinely lekker.
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