Located up in South Africa’s northeast – its name translates as ‘place where the sun rises’ – Mpumalanga is one of the country’s most geographically-diverse provinces. Its landscapes change dramatically as one heads north: the south’s lush wetlands, rolling savannah in the central Lowveld, the lofty Drakensberg Escarpment and, up in the northeastern corner, famous Kruger National Park’s lower half.
A natural fit for journeys to Kruger, The Panorama Route is an impossibly scenic drive at the dramatic point where that Escarpment meets the Lowveld. It’s littered with legendary viewpoints like God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, places where the sight of vast ravines, mind-boggling rock plateaus and myriad waterfalls can make mouths hang open. A stand-out is lush Blyde River Canyon, the world’s third biggest and a home to hippos, crocodiles, monkeys and a host of birdlife. All this, and you haven’t even started your safari yet!
Further north into the Escarpment is an area called the Highlands Meander, considered a ‘trout mecca’ by gleeful fly-fishermen. Rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, hot-air ballooning and paragliding are also possible there. Heading south, the Lowveld contains the planet’s oldest dolomite caves, while the wetlands’ empty spaces and expansive skies enable birding and stargazing.
Get in, getting around
You can fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, near capital Nelspruit, from Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban, and collect a car to journey north from there. Another option is to drive up from Johannesburg, joining the N12 towards Witbank and heading for Nelspruit. Either way, motoring is the best way to explore the region.
Best time to visit
Winter (roughly May-September) is the best time for trips to Kruger, as the vegetation is less dense and animals crowd around waterholes to make sightings easier. It’s also ideal for the Panorama Route, with the roads drier and less prone to view-blocking mists.
An intimate 5 suite lodge, perfectly positioned for exploring the delights of Mpumalanga and conveniently close to the Kruger National Park.
A modern, spacious, tranquil golf resort with country-style hospitality, perfectly located for exploring the Kruger Park and the spectacular attractions of the area.
A small family-run hotel with delightful gardens, situated on the Panorama Route in the sleepy town of Hazyview.
A Gourmet Getaway in a country house set in a lush grounds, perfect for families wanting to explore the Kruger National Park, The Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon.
Set attractively amid lakes, forests and hills near the ‘fly-fishing capital’ of Dullstroom, roughly halfway between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
How to make the most of every moment?
Local knowledge makes a huge difference! When I asked Ash at Best of South Africa to give me some guidance on how to make the most of our trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek wine valley, I felt sure she would be able to send me in the right direction. It never occurred to me that she would organise our ...