Things to do

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the “Biosphere”). The park has 9 main gates that allow entrance to the different camps.

The Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga, South Africa, are set in Precambrian dolomite rock, which was first laid down about 3800 million years ago, when Africa was still part of Gondwana. The caves themselves formed about 240 million years ago, making them the oldest known caves in the world.

The Shangana cultural village is midway between the Blyde River Canyon and the southern Kruger National Park, they invite guests to share in the way of life of the Shangaan people. The picturesque villages are set in the shade of ancient trees in a reserve of forest and grassland, and are open every day. A bustling African market village forms the centre of Shangana, where local crafts people make and trade their craft. From here, trained guides lead guests down to villages on daytime tours, midday tours with lunch, and the famed Festival in the Chief’s Kraal. Shangana has been created and built by local Shangaan people, and forms a place of great pride and a way of preserving a rich heritage for us, and an example of South Africa’s great cultural diversity.

Pilgrim’s Rest (Afrikaans: Pelgrimsrus) is a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa which is protected as a provincial heritage site. After it was officially declared a gold field in September 1873, the town suddenly grew to 1,500 inhabitants searching for alluvial gold. Towards the end of the 19th century claims were bought up and underground mining started by the company known as TGME. Mining was closed down in 1971 and the village sold to the government as a national museum. Transvaal Gold Minings Estates, currently part of the listed Simmers and Jack, started gold mining again in 1998. The town’s original architecture remains largely unchanged since then, because the town was declared a National Monument now a provincial heritage site in 1986.

The Three Rondavels on Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route give a spectacular view over the Blyde River Canyon. Shaped like traditional African beehive huts, the Three Rondavels form three huge pinnacles of rock rising above the canyon below. The rondawels are named (from left) after Chief Maripi Mashile’s three wives: Magabolie, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto, while the flat-topped mountain behind them to the right is called Mapjaneng (‘the chief’).

Long Tom Pass, is situated in the Mpumalanga province, on the Regional Road R37, the road between Lydenburg and Sabie. A monument commemorating the last use of the Boer 155 mm Creusot Long Tom guns during the Second Boer War is located in the pass, about 21 kilometres (13 mi) from Sabie.

The Blyde River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa, located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 16 miles (26 km) in length and is, on average, around 2,500 feet (762 m) deep. The Blyderivierpoort Dam, when full, is at an altitude of 665m (2182 feet). The Canyon consists mostly of red sandstone. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 6,378 feet (1,944 m) above sea level, whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 1,840 feet (561 m) above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is over 4,500 feet (1,372 m) deep.

The Berlin Falls is a waterfall in Mpumalanga, South Africa. They are located close to God’s Window. The falls are on the Sabine River and fall 80 metres (260 ft), dumping into a circular basin flanked by red cliffs. The falls have the shape of a candle, with the first short drop the wick, and the remaining, broader drop being the candle body.

The Pinnacle Rock, a tower-like freestanding quartzite buttress which rises 30 m above the dense indigenous forest, is 6 m north of Graskop on the R534 road (a scenic loop off the R532 road).

The Mac-Mac Falls is a waterfall on the Mac-Mac River in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The Bourke’s luck potholes is a natural water feature which marks the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. Through countless eons the swirling whirlpools which occur as the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River caused waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river.The Potholes were named after a gold digger, Tom Burke, who staked a claim nearby. Although his claim did not produce a single ounce of gold, he correctly predicted that large gold deposits would be found in the area. The Potholes is located 35km north of Graskop town on the R532 road. The informative visitors centre details some of the interesting natural and socio-historic features and is the starting point of the 700m walk to the potholes.

The Lisbon Falls is the highest waterfall in Mpumalanga, South Africa. They are located close to God’s Window and the many other waterfalls in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, like Berlin Falls, Lone Creek and the Mac-Mac Falls. The Lisbon Waterfall lies in die Lisbon Creek just north of Graskop on the R532 road. The waterfall is 94 m high and named for the capital city of Portugal. The waterfall lies on the “Panorama Route”.

The meaning of

Whispering Thorns

The thorns of the Ziziphus mucrota, known as the  

Buffalo thorn, “blinkbaar-wag-’n-bietjie” in Afrikaans

and “mphasamhala” in Tsonga, are spaced along

the length of every branch in pairs. One of the

pair points robustly outward and forward while the

other curves back and inward in the oppiste direction.

The Nguni African legend says the thorns tell us

something about ourselves - that we must look

ahead to the future... but we must never forget where

we have come from.

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