Capital city: Nelspruit
Population: 3,5 million
Surface area: 76 500 square km
Mpumalanga (the name means “Sunrise” or “Land of the Rising Sun”) extends from its border with Gauteng province to the national border with Mozambique and the kingdom of Swaziland. Mpumalanga is one of the main tourist areas in South Africa. It shares the Kruger National Park with Limpopo Province. The Kruger National Park is an immense nature reserve covering the same surface area as Wales, and is home to the so-called “Big Five” group of animals (leopard, lion, buffalo, rhino and elephant). In the park it is possible to stay in various types of accommodation, from camp-style to cottages. The Park is surrounded by a number of smaller game reserves, such as Timbavati, Manyeleti and Sabie Sand. These smaller parks also allow for good game viewing and fine accommodation.
Another attraction for tourists is the escarpment region, to the west of the Kruger Park. This escarpment is the boundary of the African continental plateau, and consists of a range of spectacular mountains and hair-raising cliffs. There is a road along the edge of the escarpment, and a drive along this road gives one panoramic views of the landscape. Landmarks include The Pinnacle, which is a gigantic column of granite, God’s Window, which is a vantage point situated 1000m (3300ft) above the ground at its foot, and the Lisbon Falls. The escarpment continures along the Blyde Canyon, which is 26km (about 15 miles) long and between 350m and 800m (1000ft and 2400ft) deep. Also on the drive are Bourke’s Luck Potholes, consisting of a collection of interesting rock formations that were formed by the abrasive effect of pebbles carried by flooding waters. The Blyderivierspoort Hiking Trail traverses the Canyon.
Mpumalanga is host to a number of market towns, namely Sabie, Graskop (“Grassy Peak”), and Pilgrim’s Rest. Sabie is located adjacent to the Mauchsberg and Mount Anderson, while Graskop is a town devoted to forestry. Nelspruit has the Lowveld National Botanical Gardens, which specialises in cycads (prehistoric palm-like plants – a special licence is required to own them) and other sub-tropical plants.