Sometimes when we decide to go on an escape, we need just that. An escape, a secluded and almost uncharted place that is not full of tourists. Today we explore Mpumalanga, best known for its incredible wildlife and outdoor activities. But there is far more to explore and discover in Mpumalanga than safari drives.
This land of the rising sun has spectacular scenic spots like the ever popular Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels and God’s Window. Read on if you are looking to experience the best kept secret attractions that Mpumalanga has to offer.
Tucked away in this beautiful province lies the spectacular Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail, a scenic wilderness of immense geological importance. The self-drive route is a 38 km exploration of ancient rock formations that date from the Archaean period, more than three billion years ago. Elements found in this area include a 3.2 billion year-old beach deposit, fossilised biomats in sandstone, piles of volcanic pillows formed by lava expelling on the floor of the sea, and volcanic hailstones preserved in chert sediments.
The lowveld’s Sabie Waterfall route is an insider secret in South Africa and it connects eight of the most enchanting waterfalls of Mpumalanga. The beautiful 50km Sabie waterfall route follows the Main Road out of Sabie and connects one waterfall with the next while offering spectacular views of the countryside, a rich canvas of forested ravines, rivers, passes and valleys.
There is nowhere else in the country that combines beautiful views and picnic spots with the backdrop of so many waterfalls.
This is one the most delicate waterfalls in the country and is named for its resemblance to the sheer veil of a bride's wedding dress. Water in these falls doesn't plunge - it drifts gently over the rocky overhang in a fine spray that kisses the rocks below.This elegantly delicate waterfall is just 6 km outside of Sabie, making it one of the most accessible falls with a bit of a steep climb to reach the falls but the view is worth it.
The Lone Creek Falls is the most interesting and beautiful falls close to Sabie. One of the well known landmarks of the area, 9 km from Sabie on the old Lydenburg tarred road. The waterfall has been declared a National Monument, and will take your breath away with its natural beauty. It reaches 68 m and is something truly exceptional to behold.
The shower of this waterfall drops in the shape of a horseshoe, cascading on either side of a solid rock and a short walk through the beautiful terrains grants you the opportunity to spot magnificent birdlife and wildlife.
The Mac Mac falls are super impressive. The Mac Mac River plunges some 65 m over the cliff face at the Mac Mac Falls. Originally a single stream, the river was diverted by miners wanting to work a nearby gold reef and today, the falls is made up of two streams of water. Like the Horseshoe, Lone Creek and Berlin Falls, The Mac Mac Falls and the indigenous vegetation below the waterfall have been declared a national monument.
Less-well known than the bigger falls, Maria Shires is pretty and private – perfect for a picnic. Like Forest Falls, the setting is forested and tranquil. For those feeling a bit adventurous, there is a little path to the top of the waterfall that will take you to the graves of Maria Shires and her family.
Mpumalanga's best-hidden gem. Some people have tried finding it, with no luck. It is situated between Graskop and Sabie and takes you on a walk through the forest before laying our eyes on it. A lovely forest walk to the falls, although not clearly marked, and not everyone manages to find it. Those who do rave about the views and the gentleness of the walk.
Lisbon Falls are closer to Graskop and God’s Window, on the Panorama Route and most spectacular when in full flow. its sheer size and beauty. At 94 m it is Mpumalanga's highest waterfall, and was named for Portugal's capital city by the European miners in the area during its gold rush heyday.
Almost as beautiful as the Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls are a must see. These falls were named after one of Europe's capitals because of the prevalence of European miners who came to the area during the gold rush of the late 1800s.
The Sabine River drops 45 m down a cliff face and creates the Berlin Falls, said to resemble a candle-shape when the river is in full flow with a narrow wick at the top and broad base below. This waterfall has been declared a national monument.
The Berlin Falls are situated close to the Lisbon Falls and visiting these falls forms part of an epic day trip from Graskop.
The Kadishi Tufa Waterfall is the second tallest waterfall in the world and it drops into the elegant Blydepoort Dam. Tufa waterfalls are formed from water that runs over dolomite rock, which absorbs calcium. Due to water running over this rock formation it erodes faster than the rocks surrounding it. The erosion gives the waterfall and the rock a look of a crying face. This is the very reason that it is known as “the weeping face of nature”.
One of the famous attractions to see in Mpumalanga is the natural wonder called “Bourke’s Luck Potholes”. These bizarre natural water features, hewn by centuries of water, mark the start of the Blyde River Canyon. Their strange name comes from the gold digger, Tom Burke, who staked a nearby claim.
God’s Window has no frame, no glass and no handles; it is simply a view so magnificent. famous natural landmark found along the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga. God’s Window is situated within the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, and offers a magnificent viewpoint over the greenest canyon in the world. Here, the cliffs drop away to an astonishing 700 - 900m gorge filled with trees, shrubs, and wildlife.
The Three Rondavels are an astonishing ancient geological wonder which resemble rounded traditional dwellings with a slightly pointed roof.
Declared a historical monument, the Echo caves are made up of some of the oldest limestone caves in the world. This underground wonderland was found in 1923 by the owner of the farm called Klipfonteinhoek when he was searching for water. Great was his surprise when he realised that some of his cattle had mysteriously disappeared into the cave. After some exploring, it was soon realised that this dark underworld carried with it the most beautiful gems of nature.
The Blyde River Canyon is the largest green canyon in the world, thus making it one of the most visited attractions in South Africa. There are three ways in which you can visit the Canyon: from the viewpoints at the Three Rondavels, white river rafting, flying over it with a helicopter or in a microlight.
The Kruger National Park, which is one of the largest national parks in Africa is home to the Big Five animals and the Big Six Birds.
The Panorama route promises endless scenic views with crystal rocks, plunging waters and so much more! Worth the visit.
Whether you are looking for an adventurous time river rafting or discovering mother nature’s magnificent wonders, Mpumalanga offers a variety of exceptional attractions that will have you coming back for more.