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Mpumalanga is one of the most scenic provinces in South Africa with much to offer travellers. This beautiful province is home to an abundance of wildlife, the world’s largest ‘green canyon’, breathtaking waterfalls, quaint restaurants and a host of exciting activities. Mpumalanga is a favourite holiday destination amongst tourists (both local and international), for very good reason. So why not take a Sho’t Left and explore this fantastic province for yourself. Here’s a list of the top 16 things to do while visiting Mpumalanga:
- Milly’s Trout Farm & Restaurant
If you’re taking a scenic drive to your end destination in Mpuampalang, a stop at Milly’s Trout Farm comes highly recommended. This small farm stall, restaurant and B&B is located just off of the N4 between Belfast and eNtokozweni. You can enjoy a scrumptious home cooked meal at the restaurant while overlooking the dam. Here you can also stock up on some snacks for the road trip like biscuits, chips, dried fruit and biltong. It’s a truly South African stopover. If you’d like to visit Milly’s, you can find more details here https://millys.co.za/
Dullstroom is a small little countryside town located in Mpumalanga Highlands. It’s renowned for flyfishing and tranquillity making it perfect for a sneaky relaxing weekend getaway (only two and a half hours away from Johannesburg and Pretoria). The town offers activities like horse riding, bird of prey shows and whisky tastings, to name a few. Dunkeld Estate offers great accommodation options in close proximity to the town. A little further away, in Machadodorp, you can find Gooderson Kloppenheim – a lovely little 4-star hotel – which is highly recommended. Dullstroom is a great escape all-year round, but winter time is particularly special; think cosy fireplaces, warm hearty meals and red wine.
- Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre is based in White River. The centre houses art museums, motor museums, restaurants, coffee shops, quirky stores and even a small cinema theatre. This quaint little centre is full of character and charm making it the perfect day out with family or friends. Cocktails and lunch at the Magnolia Restaurant are a great way to break up museum visits and shopping. For added convenience, there’s also a boutique hotel on the premises. You can find more information here https://www.casterbridge.co.za/
- Shabalala Interpretation of Culture Centre
Shabalala Interpretation of Culture Centre is a must-visit. The Shabalala Interpretation of Culture Centre is located in Hazyview and offers a truly unique South African experience. You can look forward to a special evening showcasing cultural dress, dance, music, song and of course incredible local cuisine; you may even get to try a mopane worm or two (think crispy, salty, tasty snack). Shabalala's residents will keep you entertained while locals are benefitting from the centre’s preservation of culture and promotion of economic activity. Can’t recommend this experience enough! You can find further details here https://www.inkosidmc.co.za/shabalala
- Nut Grove Manor
If you’re spending some time in White River and the surrounds, I can recommend booking in to Nut Grove Manor. This gorgeous 5-star boutique hotel offers incredible serene amenities including beautiful rooms, exquisite gardens, a luxurious pool and fabulous breakfast, making it the perfect spot for a quiet retreat. You can find more information about Nut Grove Manor here https://nutgrovemanor.co.za/
- Gin Tasting at Gin & Co
G&Ts are the quintessential refreshing summer sipping drink. In White River, you can find Gin & Co, Mpumalanga’s premier craft gin micro-manufacturing distillery. Here you can do gin tastings, partake in a short distillery tour and learn all about the gin making process. Gin & Co is a gorgeous little spot with lots of character located in the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre and a visit comes highly recommended. For more details take a look here https://thegincompany.co.za/
- Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world (following the Grand Canyon in the USA and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia). It’s also known as the world’s largest ‘green canyon’ owing to its beautiful lush leafy surroundings. It is a spectacular site that needs to be visited by every South African at least once. The Blyde River Canyon Reserve hosts an array of natural wonders and tourist attractions including Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels, Pinnacle Rock and God's Window – all of which are recommended stopovers (more on these destinations below). You can find more information on the reserve here https://www.nature-reserve.co.za/blyde-river-canyon-natural-preserve.html
- Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Bourke’s Luck Potholes is an incredible site that showcases an ancient geological phenomenon. Here you can witness huge cylindrical potholes in the rocks which have been formed overtime due to eddy current erosion at the meeting point of the Blyde River and the Treur River. This incredible site is well worth a visit.
- Three Rondavels
Three Rondavels, located in the northern region of the Blyde River Canyon Reserve, is a unique rock formation of three oval shaped rocks with slightly pointed tips. This rock formation bears a close resemblance to a traditional South African hut (rondavel) giving rise to its name. It’s just a short walk to the viewing point which boasts the most spectacular views of the Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondavels.
- God’s Window
God’s Window is a very special spot showcasing magnificent views; it’s also quite aptly named. It’s located in the southern region of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and is situated in the Drakensberg escarpment region of eastern Mpumalanga. A short uphill hike is required to get to the top of the view point. However, the stunning views of canyons, rock formations and waterfalls are well worth the walk up. In summer months it can get very hot so be sure to bring drinking water, sunblock and a hat.
- Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the pride and joys of South Africa and a truly unique experience. This is one place that needs to be visited by every South African. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife including the much celebrated Big Five. There are numerous accommodation options at Skukuza Rest Camp ensuring family-friendly and budget-friendly options are available too. If you feel like spoiling yourself, I highly recommend Mdluli Safari Lodge for a 5-star luxury experience. The lodge is located inside the Kruger National Park near the Pretoriuskop Rest Camp. Mdluli Safari Lodge offers a beautiful tranquil environment showcasing a magnificent pool overlooking the park, gorgeous tented rooms, a spa experience, lovely humble buffet-style homecooked meals as well as game drives. You can find more information on Kruger National Park here https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger and for a real treat, you can find details on Mdluli Safari Lodge here https://www.mdlulisafarilodge.co.za/
- Graskop Gorge Lift Co
Graskop Gorge Lift Co is a fun activity-based location that accommodates everyone, from the nature lovers to the adrenaline junkies. They offer three activities including the gorge lift and forest trail experience, zip lining and the big swing. It’s a fun group or family activity that caters for everyone. If you’re like me and afraid of heights, I can strongly recommend the zip line. I was absolutely terrified while standing up on the platform waiting patiently for my turn. But, it’s probably the most memorable experience from my recent Mpumalanga trip. The zip line will leave you with a sense of accomplishment, having faced a major fear. If, however, you prefer to rather sit and watch, you can grab a drink and bite to eat at the restaurant while you enjoy the views. You can find further details here https://www.graskopgorgeliftcompany.co.za/
- Pilgrim’s Rest
Pilgrim’s Rest is a small heritage town situated on the Panorama Route. Historically a gold mining town discovered in 1873, Pilgrim’s Rest is now home to charming stores, museums, coffee shops and even a Victorian-style hotel, the Royal Hotel. If you feel taking a trip back in time, Pilgrim’s Rest is well worth exploring. You can find more details here https://www.pilgrimsrest.org.za/
- Mac Mac Falls
Mac Mac Falls are the renowned twin waterfalls located close to Pilgrim’s Rest. The 65m plunging waterfalls are located on the Mac Mac River in the Mac Mac Forest Nature Reserve. The best time to visit is in the summer rainy months when the falls are full and the foliage green and lush.
- Harrie’s Pancakes
If you’re looking to try the absolute best pancakes, you need to visit Harrie’s Pancakes. No matter where you’re travelling in Mpumalanga, you should be able to visit one of the Harrie’s Pancakes branches. There is one located in Graskop and another located in Dullstroom. These are no ordinary pancakes but rather a little special experience showcasing local South African flavours. The bobotie, milk tart and peppermint crisp are personal favourites and come highly recommended. You can find more information here https://harriespancakes.co.za/
- Mbombela Experience Tours
If you’re arranging a large group trip or simply don’t feel like driving to all the sites, Mbombela Experience Tours & Transfers comes highly recommended. They can also preplan and arrange your entire trip for you based on their professional recommendation. You can look forward to stress-free travels, lovely lunch packs and friendly service. If this of interest to you, you can find further details here https://www.mbombelatours.com/
For great deals and more information, be sure to visit the Sho’t Left website here https://shotleft.co.za/ as well as the Mpumalanga Tourism website here https://www.mpumalanga.com/ Summer holidays are the perfect time to explore Mpumalanga so why not take a Sho’t Left this December.