Lowveld & Kruger National Park
Along the eastern reaches of Mpumalanga lie the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park, and this is a region that must be visited by anyone traveling to South Africa. The area stretches from the Swaziland border in the South as far as the Limpopo river on the Zimbabwe border in the North and is a belt of land between 100 and 150 kms wide. The Northern part forms the Kruger National Park, certainly one of the best places in the world to see the big five, a vast area 400 kms from North to South harbouring 147 species of mammal, over 500 bird species as well as numerous species of reptile, fish and amphibians, to say nothing of the 336 species of trees.
To the South of the area, between the Kruger National Park and the Swaziland border, lies an area of Lowveld known as the Maputo-Nelspruit development corridor. This is, above all else, an agricultural area, and here you will find growing a large proportion of South Africa's tropical fruit and vegetables. The Lowveld is dotted with hills and valleys where you will find traces of the early San (Bushmen) people who left their marks in ancient rock paintings and engravings in the many caves of the area. Visitors can also see archeological ruins, old wagon trails and gold diggings. Situated just to the West of Nelspruit, the Capital of Mpumalanga, are the famous Sudwala Caves, a "must" for any visitor to the Lowveld.
The Kruger National Park is by far the most important game reserve in Southern Africa. The Park boasts many rest camps, and there are numerous private game lodges that adjoin the Park in such a way that there are no game fences between lodge and park. Accommodation prices vary from the very reasonable to the very expensive, some of the more expensive lodges catering more for the overseas visitor. Accommodation can range from safari tents to cottages, and at the higher end of the spectrum to extreme luxury. Camping and caravan sites are available in many of the Kruger National Parks rest camps, and facilities are normally excellent. There are also a number of trails that the visitor can take. These are all on foot and accompanied by an armed ranger. They normally involve spending three nights sleeping in the wild and eating around a campfire – evening meals are normally a braai (barbecue) or a potjiekos (hunter's stew).
Situated in the extreme South West of the Lowveld is the resort town of Badplaas. The origins of this resort town go back to 1876 when a Swazi chief gave a white trader the gift of a hot sulphur spring. The town that developed at the site has become well known for its hot sulphur mineral baths and pools. Just a few kilometers to the South of Nelspruit and situated in the historic de Kaap Valley, where some of the world's oldest sedimentary rock formations are to be found, is the historic mining town of Barberton, named after Barber's Reef, a particularly rich gold reef named by Graham Barber and his cousins. The town was officially named in 1884 by the local mining commissioner who did so by breaking a bottle of gin over a piece of rock.
Apart from the obvious attractions of the Kruger National Park, this Lowveld region of Mpumalanga offers a wide selection of adventure holidays, from rock climbing and hiking to white water rafting and windsurfing, from bird watching to paragliding. Mpumalanga is, without doubt, a part of South Africa that cannot be missed by any serious visitor to the country.