8 Inspiring Places to see in Mpumalanga
In case you haven’t heard, in 2019 we got to travel around South Africa. One of the many peaks of our trip includes Mpumalanga; it’s true what they say, the area is captivating and filled with scenic views, valleys, and waterfalls – it is without a doubt one of the most stunning destinations in our pretty country.
Here we have listed some of our favorite places to visit in Mpumalanga and the highlights of our trip:
1. Kruger National Park
Since we can remember we’ve heard wonderful stories about the Kruger National Park, so it’s always been a dream to explore it ourselves.
Finally, driving in through the Malelane gates just a few minutes after a glorious sunrise, we were both very excited to have the chance of embarking on another great adventure and ticking this one off the bucket list too.
We worked our way through the park, using a map we (thankfully) got while visiting family in Nelspruit.
The world-famous Kruger National Park – born in 1898 – known as one of the biggest game reserves in South Africa and said to be one of the largest national parks in the world covers nearly two million hectares of land.
Also, it is the home of some fascinating animals and creatures, including the famous Big 5. The lush park is filled with lakes and dams with fantastic views of the surrounding nature and wildlife.
The Kruger Park is quite helpful when it comes to any facilities you need; we found them on our route as we were traveling through the park. To find out more about the facilities available at the Kruger National Park, one of the most helpful sites we found was Tourism Bee Charter, be sure to check it out if you need any help on your travels!
From personal experience, we can truly say that visiting the Kruger National Park is something worth doing at least once in your life, and it doesn’t match up to anything else.
2. Kaapsche Hoop
If you are looking for a place where you can make a quick stop or enjoy a peaceful getaway, this tiny village, established in 1882 is perfect!
Kaapsche Hoop is called ‘the haven of beauty, peace, and tranquillity’, and for good reason. The people are friendly and the surroundings to die for.
It is crazy how small and unnoticeable the town is: we almost drove past without realizing it, but when you drive in through the main street you feel welcome and in touch with nature instantly.
There is a variety of local restaurants, tourist shops, and old buildings mirroring the lives of miners creating family homes from nothing.
After exploring the history and culture of the town, we hiked up the mountain. Picture golden grass fields and sky-high green pine trees, wild horses galavanting around openly, amazing rock formations, and remarkable panorama views of vast cliffs.
Our last stop in Kaapse Hoop was at a restaurant called ‘Koek ‘n Pan’ – not only famous for their yummy sweet and savory pancakes but also the variety of different flavors of pancakes they offer, you kinda just wanna pick them all…
Stopping in Kaapsehoop was a great experience that will never be forgotten. It’s a place that gives you a feeling of glory.
3. Sudwala Village
One of the best and most memorable experiences we had in Mpumalanga was at the Sudwala Village, which is about a 30-minute drive from Nelspruit, and definitely worth the visit.
First, we went on an hour-long tour in the dark tunnels and main chamber (70m in width and 37m in length) of the oldest dolomite rock cave in the world, known as the Sudwala Caves. The cave has its own Amphitheatre with a natural cooling system and displays some amazing structures and fossils. It is hot and clammy inside the cave; make sure you don’t slip and fall on the damp floor, and oxygen is limited so it is best to take long deep breaths as you go along.
The ancient ruins and various stone wall remains of the Lowveld are unusual and said to have wondrous powers that can be felt sometimes if all your focus is put into it. Apart from exploring magnificent views and South African history at the Sudwala Ruins, on the way back we visited the wonderful viewpoint and a range of mysterious stone circles just down the road from the ruins.
Following our visit to the Sudwala Caves and Ruins, we went to see the Sudwala Dinosaur Park located directly next to the caves. Our accommodating tour guide took us on an adventure through a lush garden forest where we learned more about our existence and observed excellent displays of huge life-sized ancient animals, dinosaur figures, and real Nile Crocodiles; surrounded by greenery, walkways, bridges, and lots more.
4. Lone Creek Falls
Known as the highest waterfall in Mpumalanga Lowveld and a popular landmark of South Africa, Lone Creek Falls plunges down into a creek – it is unbelievable witnessing how fast the water comes crashing down splashing icy-cold mist all over your skin; a refreshing feeling, especially early in the morning.
We took a 200-meter walk through captivating indigenous flora leading us to the falls. It is difficult to put the experience into words – however, one thing we can truly say is that we’ve never felt so refreshed and close to nature before.
From a distance, it’s a thin, long, silent white stream showering over rocky surfaces. As you get closer you can hear the pounding on the rocks becoming louder as you approach the water.
We arrived at the waterfall with clear minds and a feeling of liveliness, forgot all about our problems, and lost ourselves in the magical beauty of water tumbling down the mountain.
5. Pilgrim’s Rest
The miniature town is settled on the Panorama Route and was born in the 1800s during the beginning of the gold rush in South Africa. It is so small we explored on foot.
Pilgrim’s Rest is now a national monument. Being there took us back in time and left us lost in the history of our country as you stand on one of the unique sites where gold was dug up more than 150 years ago.
We went to the information center in town which taught us everything important there is to know about the town. It is filled with amazing historical buildings, such as the oldest church that exists, which was hand-crafted in 1884. The church holds an antique organ of over 100 years old.
On an early Saturday morning, we set off to Sabie, a forestry area near the Sabie River in Mpumalanga.
Sabie started off as a base camp for people who were grazing for gold. Now, it is a place where you can go sightseeing and shop for African arts and crafts.
Like most other towns in South Africa, this one brought back reminders of how blessed we are to have the scenic beauty of nature around us.
7. Mac Mac Falls
On the Sabie Waterfalls Route in Mpumalanga rests another national monument, the Mac-Mac Falls. It is known as one of the most striking of several waterfalls in Sabie and has twin falls dropping 70 meters into a massive gorge.
The waterfall was not always split in two, gold miners actually blasted the original waterfall to try and reach some gold. They say you will only see one fall during dry season, which is what we experienced – we’d love to go back and see the twin falls in winter.
We stumbled upon the Mac Mac Rock Pools just before leaving the falls, and couldn’t resist stopping. The enclosed park has a large picnic area where you can relax, go for a hike, and swim in the fresh mountain water while circled by limitless mountains, green hills, and big shady trees.
While walking on the rocks between the pools you can see the water flowing below you and hear the sounds from all the small waterfalls; it truly is a peaceful spot to explore when visiting Mpumalanga.
Barberton is situated in De Kaap Valley and hugged by the Makhonjwa Mountains.
The first part of our day was spent traveling around town; the Barberton Heritage Walk (free to do) took us on a trail through some of the best historical attractions in town, such as some of the first tin houses, which are now museums, as well as the original Stock Exchange.
Our guided tour was both fascinating and entertaining. It included the history of the town and wonderful tales of the interesting characters and what made them call Barberton their home.
By following the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail on the R40, we went on a journey into the past and experienced incredible views and history. The road has a range of different parking spots and lookout areas with informative panels painting pictures of Earth countless generations ago.
We winded along the road for about 40 kilometers up the mountainside all the way to the Swaziland border, then made a U-turn and traveled back to Nelspruit.
There you have it! These are just some of the wonderful places we got to see on our stay in Mpumalanga while traveling around South Africa. It definitely is one of the best places to see, and we will be heading back as soon as possible so that we can enjoy more of it; our bucket list has been prepped already.
Have you ever visited Mpumalanga? What are some of the best places you visited on your trip? We would love to hear more about it, let us know in the comments!