1. Blue Swallows:
Considered to be South Africa’s most endangered bird, blue swallows can be found, if you’re lucky, in the Limpopo Province where they nest in old sink holes, mine shafts and antbear holes, or in Mpumalanga near Kaapsche Hoop. Alternatively, visit Nyika Plateau in Malawi for a sure sighting.
Some 20 of South Africa’s 35-odd endemic bird species cab be seen at Wakkerstroom, a little town in Mpumalanga with a mixture of grassland and wetland habitats. Summer is the time to see the grassland species when they are easily identified in their breeding plumage.
3. Mac Mac Duet:
At Mac Mac Falls in Mpumalanga, the Mac Mac River splits into two and the columns of water plummet side by side for 65 metres into a pool in the gorge below. Just one of many magical falls in the area.
4. Lisbon’s Double Stream:
For the best view of Mpumalanga’s Lisbon Falls, walk along a footpath to the base of the falls, which tumble in a double stream 90 metres over a semi-circular rock face.
5. Berlin Falls:
The mighty Berlin Falls are the most spectacular in Mpumalanga, which has plenty of waterfalls to boast of. The water cascades 80 metres over a cliff and into a deep green pool below. You can’t get too close to the falls, but an observation platform offers great views.
6. Cosmos Country:
Mention spring flowers and you’ll probably think West Coast and Namaqualand. But there’s also Cosmos Country in southwestern Mpumalanga, where in late summer the veld is carpeted with white and pink cosmos flowers. And as a bit of trivia, wild cosmos flowers always have eight petals.
Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga is the sort of place you’d miss if you didn’t know it existed. The houses are built up against rocky outcrops and against a hill, and you can’t see them from the main road. There are hardly roads in Kaapsehoop, which is said to have wild horses living around it. Pop into the intriguing shop selling second-hand treasures. Arrive in an old Beetle if you can; you’ll be out of place in a Merc.
8. Songimvelo Game Reserve:
Little known and one of the most scenic reserves in the lowveld, Songimvelo Game Reserve on the border of Mpumalanga and Swaziland offers nine-day horseback adventures in big game country. If your guide is Steven Rufus, be prepared for a great adventure as he’s a white-knuckle rider.
9. Mpumalanga Trout:
Dullstroom is, unofficially, the fly-fishing capital of South Africa. The dams and rivers in the area are well stocked with rainbow and brown trout – but that doesn’t mean the fishing’s not a challenge.
10. World’s Oldest Rocks:
It’s always difficult to visualise just how old the Earth is; we can’t count to one million, let alone get our heads around how long ago 3 400 million years is. But if you go to Barberton, you’ll be able to see some of the world’s oldest rocks that formed 3 400-million years ago. They were around when the first life forms, bacteria, began to develop and not too long ago a fossil of that bacteria was found near Barberton; it’s estimated to be around 3 200-million years old. You can take a walk through these Achaean rock formations on the 1, 5-kilometre Fortuna hiking trail, which also boasts 100 species of trees.