[Updated June 2020]
There’s no better way to explore Mpumalanga than going on a road trip from Johannesburg. Start by hitting the N12 and N4 highways towards Nelspruit. On our four-hour journey, you’ll discover many surprisingly breathtaking stops along the way. Mpumalanga is a visually beautiful and diverse province. It’s filled with natural attractions, perfect for any kind of getaway.
8 Places to visit on your road trip to Mpumalanga
Drive along the Drakensberg mountain range and explore the Panorama Route. Many tourists come from all over the world to enjoy this scenic road which connects the region’s most iconic viewpoints and offers spectacular landscapes.
1. God’s Window
God’s Window is a nature reserve with a cool rainforest that looks out over the Lowveld. It is truly a popular sight and for good reason. You can spend hours here just admiring the unsurpassed scenery at an entrance fee of just R20 per person. The view is absolutely breathtaking and is sure to leave you in awe. The indigenous forests below stretch towards the Kruger National Park which is 60 kilometres away.
2. Blyde River Canyon and 3 Rondavels
The Blyde river canyon is an unforgettable sightseeing experience in this most unforgettable part of the world. When you visit this third-largest canyon in the world, you will look out over the seemingly never-ending sky and mountains of the Lowveld landscape. No matter how great of a photographer you may be, it’s impossible to truly capture the full awesomeness of this phenomenal site. Entrance fee to the nature reserve is R25 per person.
Also known as the three sisters, standing more than 700 metres above the landscape, the three rondavels are located just left of the Blyde River Canyon.
If you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll be happy to know that there are several self-guided hiking trails in the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. The Belvedere day walk and the three-day Waterval trail are guaranteed to offer you an opportunity to appreciate the natural wonders on offer at this nature reserve.
3. Bourke’s Luck Potholes
This natural water feature marks the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. At only R50 per person for entrance, here you will see the interesting rock features from a variety of angles while walking along the various bridges and viewing platforms.
4. The Pinnacle Rock
The Pinnacle Rock stands approximately 30 metres above the treetops and offers an amazing backdrop, it’s guaranteed to just take any nature-lovers breath away. Entrance is R17 per person and the nice thing is that many tourists choose to leave out this site when exploring the Panorama Route, therefore, so you’re most likely to have it all to yourself when you visit.
Graskop is the closest town to many of the country’s most famous attractions mentioned above. This small town was set up as a gold mining camp but it now serves as a top tourist destination.
Top things to do in Graskop:
- The Graskop Gorge Lift – This lift will drop you 51 metres into the lush forest. Once down in the forest, a beautifully set out 500-metre-long boardwalk will guide you below the trees along the Mitsi River.
- The Big Swing – If you’re not a fan of bungee or skydiving but still consider yourself an adrenaline junky, then the 68-metre high free-fall drop at the big swing might be the perfect activity for you. The scenery is very beautiful, you swing into a green valley. The staff is friendly, well trained and help you to put on the safety harness along with the safety ropes.
- Harries Pancakes – Whether your taste is for savoury or sweet you won’t be disappointed when dining out at Harries Pancakes. This is a great restaurant with a very unique menu, with savoury and exotic fillings.
6. Mac Mac Falls
One of the best spots along the Panorama route to swim and picnic is downstream from the legendary Mac Mac pools, curiously named after the Scottish miners who came to try their luck panning gold in the 1870s. The waterfall plunges 70 metres into a deep gorge, you may not swim here for obvious safety reasons, however, 2 kilometres downstream is the ideal spot to while away a day with picnicking and swimming to your heart’s content.
7. Fanie Botha Trail
For avid hikers, the Fanie Botha Trail is one for the bucket list. The trail is part of the first route of established hikes in the country. It lasts five days with two and three-day options available for the time-pressed (total of 72 kilometres). It is an ornithologist’s delight with Red-Collared Widow, Cuckoo, Malachite Sunbird, Blue Crane and Kingfisher sightings possible. The hike is fairly difficult so we recommend some training beforehand.
8. Kruger National Park
No trip to Mpumalanga is complete without a visit to South Africa’s most prestigious National Park. Delivering the finest game viewing in the world, it’s not unusual to see all of the big five in one day. The Kruger is ideal because of its excellent infrastructure, good travel network and professional guides. For South African citizens and residents, the daily entrance fee is R100 per adult, R50 per child.
For budget-conscious travellers, be sure to take your own self-drive safari as a full-service safari can be expensive. Driving yourself is amazing, allowing you the chance to have one-on-one encounters with animals. Please remember to travel slowly.
Where to stay
There are plenty of different accommodation options along the Panorama Route and within the Kruger National Park, it’s up to you to decide what kind of experience you would like to have. Here are some amazing options:
- Country Boutique Hotel, White River – Experience sheer luxury and tranquillity in the outskirts of the town of White River. Prices range from R1,000 to R1,500 per room.
- Abangane Guest Lodge, Hazyview – Abangane is an exceptional and exclusive lodge located on a 22-hectare portion of the original “Farm de Rust” situated on the Sabie Road in Hazyview. Prices range from R1,000 to R1,500 per room.
- The Kruger National Park – The Kruger Park offers various accommodation options. You can either camp, book a bungalow, cottage or stay in one of the beautiful luxury lodges. Because prices vary, please have look at The Kruger National Park website for accommodation prices.
What to pack for your road trip to Mpumalanga
- Binoculars and a camera – Mpumalanga is home to over 500 bird species so ensure that you have binoculars not only for bird watching but also spot the wildlife in the Kruger Park.
- Sunscreen and a hat – in summer, temperatures can range between 30 to 40 degrees Celsius, so make sure you protect your skin.
- Bottled water – it’s always advisable to carry a supply of bottled water, especially during the summer months when conditions can be very hot and humid.
- Comfortable shoes – during your visit, you will be required to walk quite often therefore, be prepared by bringing comfortable walking shoes.
Best time to take a road trip to Mpumalanga
To make the most of your road trip and ensure clear skies, you should visit Mpumalanga between October and March. This is the best time because you’ll enjoy dry weather conditions which are ideal for driving.
Have you already discovered the beauty of Mpumalanga? Share your favourite spots in the comments section below!