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MPUMALANGA REGION

High mountains and heat-hazed bushveld are the two major physical elements of Mpumalanga, South Africa's second smallest province.

Mpumalanga (formerly called the Eastern Transvaal) occupies the country's north-eastern corner, sharing the national border with Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.

The regional capital is Nelspruit; other prominent centres include Witbank, Middelburg, Ermelo, Standerton and Secunda, all industrial towns within easy reach of the Johnannesburg-Pretoria conurbation; Lydenburg, once the capital of a Voortrekker republic; historic Barberton, and the lovely highland village of Sabie.

From Johannesburg, one travels eastwards across the flattish grasslands until the land rises and then soars to the heights of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg, the northern segment of South Africa's Great Escarpment. This is a grand region of peaks and deep ravines, of clear mountain streams, entrancing waterfalls, splashes of flame-like aloes and dense forests that were once home to the Bushman people.

Later came, in succession, the Bantu-speakers, the Boer trekkers and, finally, an influx of pick-and-shovel prospectors in search of gold. These last founded Pilgrim's Rest, a busy little upland mining settlement that now serves as a perfectly preserved 'living museum'.

The eastern faces of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg are steep, precipitous in places, plunging hundreds of metres to the coastal plain - known as the Lowveld - that rolls away through the Kruger National Park and Mozambique to the Indian Ocean.

The Kruger Nationa park, one of South Africa's premier tourist attractions:

  • covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres of sun-scorched savanna and is home to more kinds of wildlife species than any other game sanctuary on the continent of Africa -
  • 137 different kinds of mammal (including the 'big five'),
  • 112 of reptile,
  • 33 of amphibian,
  • 49 of fish and
  • 227 of butterfly.
  • All this can be seen and enjoyed in surprising comfort: good roads lead to viewsites,
  • picnic spots and waterholes
  • and connect the 20-plus rest-camps.
  • The camps are tree-shaded oases that boast all the amenities, including pleasant, airconditioned bungalows, restaurants and shops.

Along the western borders of the Kruger National Park is a chain of private game reserves and lodges - among them the world-famous Mala Mala, Londolozi and Sabi Sabi - that offer the ultimate in luxurious safari experiences.

Mpumalanga's economy depends largely but not exclusively on tourism. Among large-scale projects either launched or on the drawing board is the Maputo Corridor, a highway linking Witbank with the Mozambique capital and harbour. The toll-road will create new industries and provide access to the impressive mineral and agricultural riches of the region.

 

Barberton
Dullstroom
Ermelo
Graskop
Komatipoort
Lydenburg
Middelburg
Nelspruit
Pilgrimsrest
Volksrust

 

         
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