Mpumalanga means ‘the land of the rising sun’ in the local siSwati and Zulu languages, a name it derives from lying on the eastern border of the country. It is most famous for being the southern gateway to the country’s premier wildlife reserve, the Kruger National Park. It is a place of game, adventure and rich history.
The Panorama Region
One of the country's most scenic self-drives, the Panorama Route, explores the Mpumalanga highlands, or the north-eastern section of the Great Escarpment of the Drakensberg. In these rugged mountains the plateau comes to an abrupt and dramatic halt, falling steeply away into the Lowveld accompanied by incredible views out over the grasslands of Africa
To describe the natural attractions with the written word is difficult, but people recount being able to 'touch the clouds' whilst others have called the route the 'most beautiful place in the world'.
The Panorama Route's popularity has much to do with its proximity to the Kruger National Park. It is often part and parcel of any organised trip to the game reserve. But it is also favoured for the access it provides to one of the province's major scenic draw cards, the Blyde River Canyon.
The Highlands Meander
The Mpumalanga Highlands Meander is situated in the higher reaches of the escarpment and it is sandwiched between the Cultural Heartland and the Panorama Route regions and includes the towns of Belfast, Dullstroom, Lydenburg, Machadodorp and Waterval Boven.
The Highlands Meander is a region for both nature lovers and the adventurous at heart. Dubbed the 'Trout Mecca' this region has an abundance of pristine fishing waters that never cease to lure fly fishers in their droves.
The imposing mountains and rivers of the Mpumalanga Highlands presents the opportunity for adrenaline pumping activities such as rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, hot air ballooning and paragliding to mention a few.
Major highlights of the region include a vibrant arts and crafts community
The Wild Frontier Region
The Wild Frontier is made up of the historic towns of Barberton, Komatipoort, Kaapmuiden and Badplaas amongst others. The region also holds rich historical sentiments for the people of Mozambique, because of the Samora Machel monument erected in a small village in this region where his plane crashed.
The Wild Frontier is referred to as the cradle of life, owing to the archaeological discoveries dating back more than three billion years. Evidence abounds in the imposing Mkonjwa mountains, which is said to be one of the oldest in the world.
The Cultural Heartland
It is in the Cultural Heartland that both locals and foreigners alike get to embrace the warm spirit of Africa through the Ndebele people and their indigenous wisdom and creativity.
The Ndebele people made the Cultural Heartland area famous with their colourful geometric art works that are known around the world, from Cape Town to Cairo and New York to London.
Highlights of the Cultural Heartland include colourful Ndebele arts and culture, crafts and curios. Visit colourful villages such as Kwaggafontein, Matibidi, Waterval and Twoline. Here community tourism is on the rise, allowing visitors to enjoy authentic South African rural life.
Stop by the village of Botshabelo, where the bible was translated for the first time from English into Ndebele.
The Grass and Wetlands
The Mpumalanga Grass and Wetlands region is a birding paradise. This serene region is located in the south eastern part of the Mpumalanga Province and shares its borders with Swaziland, KwaZulu Natal and the Free State provinces.
Highlights of the region include the hundreds of lakes and forgotten hamlets in the central area, rock formations and splendid scenery of the imposing mountains. It is in the Grass and Wetlands region where one can engage in unusual activities like "frogging expeditions" or watch stars during "stargazing weekends".
Fierce battles were fought in the past, with the most notable being the battle of Chrissiesmeer that is annually re-enacted. In the region, you can discover and marvel at the lost legoya nation's huts that are still standing after a millennium, as well as Bushmen paintings.
The Cosmo Country
Cosmos Country lies in the south western part of the Mpumalanga Province against the Free State and Gauteng borders and includes the towns of Secunda, Delmas, Leandra, Bethal, Standerton, Balfour and Greylingstad.
Known as the 'energy belt' of Mpumalanga, the Mpumalanga Cosmos Country region houses a number of power stations that supply energy to most southern African countries. Lively economic and agricultural activity take place in Standerton, Leandra and Balfour. The region is the centre of crude oil production in Southern Africa and it boasts the world's largest underground coal mining complex.
In the Mpumalanga Lowveld you will find the oldest dolomite caves in the world, the famous Sudwala Caves and the Lowveld National Botanical Garden with an enormous collection of cycads and an African rainforest. The Lowveld is home to the seat of the provincial administration in Nelspruit, White River and the township KaNyamazane.
The Lowveld Legogote Region is situated in the lower reaches of the Mpumalanga escarpment and comprises of the towns of Nelspruit (Mpumalanga's capital) White River, Kaapsehoop and Kanyamazane.