Mpumalanga Getaways and Travel advice

Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga, an extraordinary and awe-inspiring destination tucked away in the Northeastern corner of South Africa, is fondly called’ The Place where the Sun Rises’ and is ideal for Mpumalanga romantic getaways. It’s cradled between the towering Drakensberg Mountains and the eastern coastline of Mozambique, presenting a harmonious mix of grand canyons, lush forests, captivating waterfalls, and historical sites. In this Mpumalanga travel guide, I unveil the top Mpumalanga tourist attractions and idyllic romantic getaways to help you plan a memorable trip. Besides being close to the Kruger National Park, there are many reasons for visiting Mpumalanga in South Africa.

Mpumalanga Travel Advice

Perched above the scenic KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and neighbouring Swaziland and Mozambique, Mpumalanga emerges as an ideal destination for families and couples yearning for a romantic getaway amidst the splendour of nature.

Mpumalanga getaway Sabie Waterfall #Mpumalanga nature reserve
Sabie Waterfall Mpumalanga nature reserve

If you’re coming from another country, flying is your quickest option. You can fly to Johannesburg International Airport and then take another flight to Nelspruit, which takes about 45 minutes. Alternatively, Rent a Car at Johannesburg Airport and drive to Mpumalanga. Here is a Map of Mpumalanga.

How far is Mpumalanga from Johannesburg? The driving distance from Johannesburg to Sabie via the N12 and N4 is 368 km and will take about 4 hours by car.

  • Using the Coachliner Bus, the Journey will last about 6 hours.
  • Shuttle service: Use one small shuttle bus to and from Mpumalanga. 

The best time to visit Mpumalanga

A good time to travel around Mpumalanga and the Panorama Route is during the winter months, from May until August. During winter, the days are mostly sunny with clear blue skies and less rain, with temperatures ranging from about five to 25 degrees C. Watching wildlife in Mpumalanga game reserves at Kruger National Park is also best in winter. The long, hot summer is from springtime to September and lasts until April. The days are moderate during these months, although it gets sweltering and humid, especially from December until March, and can be pouring and cloudy throughout summer.

Mpumalanga Weather: Located 665m above sea level, the Climate in sub-tropical Mpumalanga is primarily pleasant with significant rainfall. While summers are warm and humid, the winters are shorter and dry. However, one can expect heavy rains even in winter. February is the warmest month when temperatures average around 23. July is the coldest when temperatures average about 13 degrees. Overcasting weather can be considerably disappointing when clouds obscure the magnificent views.

Is Mpumalanga Safe

Although the general violent crime rate in South Africa is high, it doesn’t mean you must stay away and miss out on this beautiful Country. Avoid driving alone at night and stick to main tourist attractions. Don’t flash around money or other valuables; be aware of your surroundings. Check out my detailed post on Safety in South Africa. Altogether, I don’t want to sound like your parents, but Travel Insurance is necessary before taking any trip.

Explore the Mpumalanga escarpment on a weekend getaway
Explore the Mpumalanga escarpment on a Weekend Getaway.

Take a Mpumalanga Road Trip

Embarking on a road trip is an exceptional way to discover the beauty of Mpumalanga, and the province offers some of the most scenic self-drive routes in South Africa. As the wise says, it is not about the destination but the Journey. A word of advice: keep to the speed limit, as potholes and traffic policy might spoil the trip. However, misty weather might spoil your view of God’s Window. Nevertheless, don’t let that spoil your fun. If the weather is not cooperating, consider visiting the other Mpumalanga places. Here are three scenic routes in Mpumalanga that are perfect for a weekend getaway in Mpumalanga.

The Panorama Route

Known as one of the best places for the family to visit in Mpumalanga, it is renowned for its scenic allure, which offers a unique journey through some of the most captivating attractions in Mpumalanga. It is adorned with stunning mountain passes, picturesque waterfalls, and viewpoints perfect for capturing memorable photos. This path brings you within a stone’s throw of the breathtaking waterfalls, God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the awe-inspiring Blyde River Canyon, the three Rondavels, and Pilgrims Rest.

The 16-kilometer route starts outside Lydenburg’s town at the foot of the beautiful Long Tom Pass and connects several natural wonders, waterfalls, hiking trails, and unique places. New experiences waiting around every corner make the Panorama route one of the best weekend getaways in Mpumalanga.

The Waterfall Route

What could be more romantic than a weekend getaway in Mpumalanga along beautiful mountain passes, ravines, dense forests, picnic spots, and spectacular waterfalls? The waterfalls are some of the most beautiful places in Mpumalanga. Therefore, touring the waterfall route is one of the best things to do in Mpumalanga. The good news is that the 50 km circle route is easy to follow and will lead you along the Picturesque Waterfalls in Mpumalanga. The friendly town of Sabie is centrally located to explore these beautiful waterfalls in Southern Africa.

Sabie Waterfall route Mpumalanga waterfalls #Panorama route weekend getaway
Waterfalls Mpumalanga

Sabie Mpumalanga Tourist Attractions

Picnic at Mac Mac Pools 

One of the highlights in Mpumalanga is visiting the Mac Mac Pools. Also, the ideal places to visit in Mpumalanga are for families and even solos. They were picnicking with ample shade, lush green grass, crystal clear mountain streams, and Barbeque facilities. Named after Scottish miners during the gold rush 1870, the refreshing Mac Mac Pools are located South of Mac Mac Falls. Water from the River cascades between rocks and into pools, with some rock pools deep enough to swim. Nothing is more significant than cooling off in these pools on a hot day. There is currently a no-swim restriction, which I hope is temporary.

To get to Mac Mac Falls and Pools: From Sabie, take the R532 to Graskop for 13 km. Open every day of the week from 08h00 until 05h00, Contact details: +27 81 749 3228 

Mac Mac pools Mac Mac Falls

The Sabie Brewing Company

Sabie beer #Sabie Brewery

Visit the state-of-the-art microbrewery in Sabie for their finest hand-crafted beers. Then, relax in their pub overlooking the spectacular Mountains. You can book one of the tours by clicking on the following link- Sabie Brewery Tours. The Sabie Brewing Company is in a roadside heritage building built in 1921.

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. Should you click through and make a purchase, I might earn a commission at no additional cost.

Visit the Sabie Valley Coffee Roasters

Visit Sabie Valley Coffee Farm for good, freshly brewed coffee and something sweet to soothe your sweet tooth. The Buckland Family started Sabie Valley Coffee Roasters after they realized the Lowveld Climate, altitude, and soil are perfect for producing the best Arabica coffee beans. Sabie Valley Coffee Farm has 50 tons of Arabica coffee beans every year. They use women to pick these cherries between March and May every year. One can purchase coffee beans to take home at their gift shop. Sabie Valley Coffee Roasters is located 10 km from Hazyview on the R536 road to Sabie. Tel. +27 13 7378169

Graskop in Mpumalanga

Surrounded by breathless natural wonders, Graskop is probably one of the most photographed regions in Southern Africa. A weekend getaway to Mpumalanga’s Graskop promises a romantic Mpumalanga getaway. Here are some of the best things to do in Graskop Mpumalanga.

Man on Mountain overlooks spectacular view over the Mpumalanga mountains with majestic cliffs

Graskop Activities and Attractions

Experience the Graskop Gorge Glass Lift 

One of the most amazing places to visit is Graskop Gorge, now famous for the most innovative tourist development in South Africa, the Graskop Gorge Lift. Previously only accessible to the most adventurous, the lift opens up the unique forest. Situated on the scenic Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, it’s one of the best tourist attractions in Mpumalanga and an experience you don’t want to miss. It is a unique place to visit during a romantic weekend getaway in Mpumalanga.

Feel the forest and travel 51 meters down the Graskop lift into an indigenous forest for an unusual and unforgettable experience. The Wooden walkways over the suspension bridge make up a 500 m trail for more breathtaking views. What is more, admire a waterfall plunging 70 m down into the gorge Graskop. Get a glimpse of what to expect, or book a full-day tour, including a trip down a cliff to the forest below with the Graskop Gorge Lift.

Admire the view from God’s Window.

The name of the most popular viewpoint in Mpumalanga says it all. God’s window forms part of over a 200 km stretch of breathtaking mountain cliffs. And on a misty-free day, the lookout point at God’s window will reward you with yet another unique view over the escarpment, with majestic cliffs plunging 700 meters into the forest below. Add God’s Window Graskop to the list of things to do during a Romantic Mpumalanga Getaway. There is a small entrance fee to access the viewpoint, with toilets and a few stalls where one can buy things.

Visit Bourke’s Luck Potholes in Graskop

One of Bourke’s Luck Potholes’ significant icons and an ultimate tourist attraction in Mpumalanga results from decades of water erosion, causing sculptured rocks that descend sheer cliffs. Named after Tom Bourke, who struck gold during the 18th century, these rock formations catch coins from visitors who fall down the sheer cliffs into sculpted water pits. How to get to Bourke’s Luck: Travel north on the R532 for 35 km from Graskop.

Beautiful view down Bourke's Luck Potholes Mpumalanga
Beautiful view down Bourke’s Luck Potholes in Mpumalanga

The Pinnacle Rock

Only 6 km north of Graskop, a tower-like freestanding quartzite buttress rises 30 meters above the lush green indigenous forest. The first of eight small Ngwaritsane stream waterfalls comes from unique rocks. There is an entrance fee to access the viewpoint.

Picnicking at Beach Island Graskop

The famous Beach Island in Graskop is only 10 km from the Panorama Route and Legendary God’s Window, perfect for those looking for more excitement. No food, snacks, or soft drinks are allowed, as the restaurant on the premises sells meat packs, wood, and soft drinks. Furthermore, alcohol is permitted. One, however, must remember that bookings are essential.

If you’re only on a weekend getaway in Mpumalanga, I suggest you skip the Beach Island in Graskop. Besides, the Eastern Lowveld also provides access to the famous Kruger National Park. So now that you’re here, why not get the best wildlife experience from an open game-viewing vehicle? If you’re on a Mpumalanga Romantic Getaway, ensure you get a quiet spot, as the place can get bustling, especially on weekends.

Photographers Tips

  • In the mornings, travel south of Graskop towards Sabie for the best lighting conditions on the waterfalls and scenic spots
  • During the afternoon, the best viewing conditions of God’s Window, Pinnacle Rock, the Blyde River Canyon, and The Three Rondavels travel north of Graskop.

The Best Things to Do in Hazyview

The cosy farming town of Hazyview is renowned for banana plantations and macadamia nuts. Hazyview derives its name from the shimmering haze that sometimes lies like a blanket over the escarpment. Hazyview is the ideal place for those romantic Mpumalanga weekend getaways.

  • The 51,1 km from Hazyview to God’s Window will take roughly 40 minutes.
  • 95 km to Kruger National Park
  • Hazyview to Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve 58 km.
  • 331 km from Johannesburg, 

Visit The Elephant Sanctuary Hazyview

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hazyview is home to two gorgeous African elephants, Kasper, a gentle giant of 3.3m tall, and Kitso, the adventurous, playful counterpart and one of the best places to visit in Mpumalanga Hazyview. You can find the 600-hectare sanctuary only 5 km outside Hazyview, next to the Casa Do Sol Hotel on Sabie Road R536. They are 16 km from Phabeni Gate at the Kruger National Park. Coordinates-25.04614, 31.07594, and Contact details: +27 13 737 6609

Go Horse-riding at Hazyview Horse Whispers

Horse lovers can go outside to explore the Hazyview surroundings and woodland forests. The Horse Whispers in Sabie’s mission is to provide a safe and harmonizing environment for interaction between horses and humans. 

The Horse Whispers is located on the R40 North of Hazyview.

Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon

Top Blyde River Attractions

The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Established in 1965, the Blyde River Canyon is nestled between the Blyde River and part of the sovereign Drakensberg Mountains. It is the third-largest Canyon in the World and the most significant green Canyon in the Universe. This natural wonder is 26 km long and averages around 750 m deep. Blyde is Dutch for “happy or glad” and was given during a Voortrekker expedition.

Birdlife and Wildlife at the Blyde River

Due to its lush green vegetation and ample water supply, the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is a wildlife haven. It is home to all five South African Primate species, reptiles, and many bird species.

Blyde River Canyon Activities

  • Besides lingering at the swimming pool, enjoy the bushveld and its surroundings.
  • Book a Blyde River Canyon Boat Cruise.
  • Blyde River Canyon hike.
  • See the activities below for things to do and the Blyde River Canyon entrance fee.

Stop by The Three Rondavels

Taking the famous Panorama Route will start or end your Journey from the Three Rondavels. Also known as The Three Sisters, it derives its name from the rock formation that resembles three African-style beehive huts or rondavels. These three geological pinnacles of rock formations rise above the Canyon below. They are beside the Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, one of Mpumalanga’s icons among the many highlights along the famous Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route.

Shangana Cultural Village

Visit the Shangana Cultural Village Hazyview to learn more about the traditions and cultures of the Shangaan people. The village is halfway between Blyde River Canyon and the Kruger National Park. Location: R535 on Graskop Road Hazyview.

Best things to do in Pilgrims Rest

Drive along the picturesque mountain pass and winding road that leads to the unspoiled gold-mining village of Pilgrims Rest, Mpumalanga. The peaceful, historic town of Pilgrims Rest is where gold was discovered centuries ago. Every time I visit Pilgrims Rest, I wish I could experience some of those times and think about the heartwarming true live story of Jock of the Bushveld.

The heartwarming and fantastic story of Jock of the Bushveld plays off in 
South Africa's gold mining era and rugged bushveld in Mpumalanga.
 Jock, a Staffordshire bullterrier, is the dog he rescued as a transport rider. 
Through their adventures, you can glimpse those heady gold rush days. 
Jock, the runt of the litter, turns out to be a faithful companion to the 
end. Get yourself the original and unabridged version of this South African 
favourite, lovingly restored from the 1907 edition. 

Explore the Miner’s town of Pilgrims Rest

Visiting the unique Gold miner’s town of Pilgrims Rest, Mpumalanga, discovered by a miner in 1873, is like going back in time. In 1986, the city was declared a National Monument, relying solely on Tourism. Altogether, historical landmarks such as the ancient rock art sites and the gold rush town of Pilgrim’s Rest. Exploring the mining town of Pilgrims Rest is one of the best weekend getaway places you won’t want to miss.

Pilgrims Rest Mpumalanga getaway

When I entered Pilgrims Rest, I could feel the old charm and think how it must have been during miners. Although Pilgrims Rest still lives on the old charm of Pilgrims, it is sadly only a shadow of its previous splendour and desperately needs revival. I suggest you park your car and explore the town on foot. Walking down the narrow main street with small shops and museums makes you feel like you are returning in time. Pilgrims Rest is one of the lovely places in Mpumalanga and is not to be missed.

Explore the small shops for souvenirs. Whatever you plan to do, you need to see the famous Royal Hotel down the street. Then, drink in the famous Miner’s Pub, filled with ancient history. The charming town of Pilgrims Rest keeps its memories alive, and I promise you will leave enriched.

Tip: Take cash, as not all shops have credit card facilities and no ATMs. Tel. +27 083 655 4832.

Yellow-tin shop in Pilgrims rest on weekend getawayal dealer in Pilgrims rest on weekend getaways
Yellow-tin shop in Pilgrims rest

Engage in Gold Panning in Pilgrims Rest

Experience the thrill of panning gold in Pilgrims Rest as the early diggers. Book a Gold panning ticket; a qualified registered guide will accompany you to a selected area by the river. The site is renowned for its minerals and metals: gold, silver, copper, hematite, and malachite.

After being shown how to pan for gold, you have an hour to pan out in search of gold. And should you find gold, they allow you to keep it. In addition, they will issue a certificate of participation and ratify any gold in your possession from tourist activity.

Pilgrims Rest Gold-panning Championships

The quaint town of Pilgrim’s Rest let the tradition of some Gold diggers of the 1870s live on by holding competitions where panners display a diversity of gold panning skills and techniques for three days. Moreover, they get penalized for lost gold nuggets and are interested in the Pilgrims Rest gold-panning championships. The panning competition involves panning out buckets of sand against time.

Visit the Pilgrims Rest Cemetery

If you don’t visit Pilgrims Rest, you’re missing out on an exceptional ancient town brimming with historical- and unique places. Visit Pilgrims Rest Cemetery to view the legendary Robber’s Grave. His grave is that of a thief caught stealing from other miners and executed.

A large wooden cross is mounted to the grave and easily identified at the far right of the cemetery. Moreover, his grave lies North-South, whereas all other graves lie East-West. Tov overnight in The Royal Hotel is one of Mpumalanga’s most romantic weekend getaways.

Visit the Famous Royal Hotel

One of the unique places to visit in Mpumalanga is the Royal Hotel, where you can see what it was like during those Mining days. If possible, stay at least a night for the best experience—the hotel and rooms with their late Victorian decor, old baths and parquet floors. The charm still lives on in the Quaint Royal Hotel; the rooms are immaculate, and the staff are willing and delighted to serve. Moreover, the PUB still has its authentic charm, accompanied later by the eerie feeling of people and activities that have gone past. Staying at the Pelgrims Rest Royal Hotel is as good as any Mpumalanga Resorts with activities.

Tour The Sudwala Caves

About 28 km from Sabie is the oldest Cave in the World, the Sudwala Caves. Visit the Cave to admire the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over 2,000 million years ago. Beyond that, visit the Sudwala Butterfly Nature Garden, a long-term conservation project and one of the Romantic Getaways Mpumalanga.

Crystal Tour at Sudwala Caves

Embark on an epic adventure down 2000m into the heart of the Sudwala Caves to view the crystal chamber with its sparkling aragonite crystals. Expect to get dirty and wet during the excursion, crawling through small tunnels and over rocks, but seeing these gorgeous crystals is worth it. Unfortunately, crystal tours are only scheduled for the first Saturday of the month.

  • Sudwala Caves Entrance fee: Adults: R100,
  • Pensioners: R80, Children above four years: R60
  • Open 365 days a year from 08h30 until 04h30
  • Sudwala Caves tickets are available at the Cave entrance.
  • Contact numbers: +27 83 446 0228 / +27 72 497 8268

How to get to Sudwala Caves: Located in the Mankelekele hills, the Sudwala Caves are 28.27 km from Sabie, 22.87 km from Long Tom Pass, and 22.49 Schoemanskloof. Please don’t feed the monkeys. By providing them with food, they become a danger to people.

Visit a Mpumalanga Game Reserve

One of the best Game Reserves in Mpumalanga is, without a doubt, the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve near the famous Kruger Park. Besides the perfect wildlife experience, Sabi Sands offers an unforgettable romantic weekend getaway.

National Park Sunset Safari is the ideal way to experience an African sunset over the savannah and see the elusive and rare wildlife that only comes out at night. You can also book a Kruger Park Tented Safari. Check out the following amazing Mpumalanga trips and tours:

The Wolwekrans Mountain Lodge is another top-rated Mpumalanga romantic getaway. Voted one of the Best Mountain Lodges In South Africa by Getaway Magazine, it is Perfect For Romantic Getaways And Family Breaks.

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The Pinnacle Rock Blyde River Canyon
Mpumalanga Waterfalls in Africa

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One Comment

  1. The emerald forests, waterfalls and historic places would all make me put Mpumalanga on my to do list on a return to South Africa. It would be hard to choose between the Panorama or Sabie Waterfall route. Maybe we would do Botha so we wouldn’t miss the Sable Brewing Company.