Must see attractions in Mpumalanga

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blyde River Canyon

    Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

    This stunning 260-sq-km reserve centres on the 30km-long Blyde River Canyon, where epic rock formations tower above the forested slopes and eagle-eye views abound at the dramatic meeting of the Drakensberg Escarpment and the lowveld. It's one of the world's largest canyons and one of South Africa’s most outstanding natural sights. Most visitors drive along the canyon’s edge, where Rte 532 offers plenty of viewpoints for gazing in awe. If you have enough time, however, the canyon is even better explored on foot.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blyde River Canyon

    Three Rondavels Viewpoint

    The area's highlight, with a staggering view of these enormous rounds of rock, their pointed, grassy tops resembling giant huts carved into the side of the canyon. There are short walks in the surrounding area to points where you can look down to the Blydepoort Dam at the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve's far north.

  • Sights in Barberton

    Painted Stone Garden

    These rocks at the entrance to town are painted in the style of 'outsider' artist Nukain Mabuza, who turned his humble labourer's accommodation on a nearby farm into a fantastic rock garden by colourfully decorating huts and hillside boulders. The enigmatic figure, who committed suicide in 1981, inspired Athol Fugard's play The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blyde River Canyon

    Bourke’s Luck Potholes

    These bizarre cylindrical holes were carved into the rock by whirlpools at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers. Bridges span the rivers, providing impressive views. There’s a small museum providing information on the canyon’s geology, flora and fauna, a busy cafe and an 80m-long lichen trail.

  • Sights in Dullstroom

    Dullstroom Bird of Prey & Rehabilitation Centre

    This centre, south of town off Rte 540, teaches visitors about raptor species and the dangers facing them – you can even spend a morning learning the art of falconry (R400). There are regular flying displays involving peregrine falcons, kestrels, buzzards and black eagles, among others.

  • Sights in Blyde River Canyon

    Lowveld Viewpoint

    Affords stunning views up the canyon, to the glistening Blydepoort Dam at the far end surrounded by forested slopes. The rocky cones of the Three Rondavels formations are just visible, and you can see over the ridge to the hazy plains on the far side.

  • Sights in Lydenburg (Mashishing)

    Lydenburg Museum

    The town museum is well worth a stop, going back to the Pedi, who arrived here in the 18th century, and the Voortrekkers, who founded the town the following century. Exhibits include Pedi clothing, Voortrekker weaponry and replicas of the famous Lydenburg Heads, 1500-year-old clay masks discovered 2.5km away, along the Sterkspruit River, by a schoolboy in the 1960s. The museum is located at the entrance to Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve, about 3km east of central Lydenburg along Rte 37.

  • Sights in Graskop

    Graskop Gorge Lift

    This glass viewing elevator travels 51m down the sheer cliffs of Graskop Gorge, with views of the Big Swing opposite, to an elevated forest boardwalk, which leads 500m to a 70m-high waterfall via suspension bridges and exhibits. At the top of the shaft, a lifestyle centre with a restaurant, craft market and shops perches on the precipice. Tickets are valid for multiple rides during the day of purchase.

  • Sights in Barberton

    Belhaven House

    This beautifully restored prefab house, built between 1899 and 1904, shows the lifestyle of the privileged in the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. The central corridor leads to the grand dining room and bedrooms, where the sturdy dressers hid the repressed desires of colonial society.

  • Sights in Nelspruit (Mbombela)

    Chimp Eden

    This is a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees, which have survived everything from the bush-meat trade to being traumatised for entertainment in circuses, beach resorts and nightclubs. You can see the primates in a semi-wild environment and learn about their behaviour and plight. Entry is on a one-hour guided tour.

  • Sights in Nelspruit (Mbombela)

    Lowveld National Botanical Garden

    North of the city centre, this 2-sq-km botanical garden (established 1969) is home to tropical African rainforest and is a nice place for a stroll among the flowers and trees. Over 240 bird species have been recorded here.

  • Sights in Barberton

    Barberton Museum

    The town museum has interesting exhibits on local history, culture and geology, including a great black-and-white photo display of Barberton through the years, covering everything from the gold rush to the local literary canine hero Jock of the Bushveld.

  • Sights in Pilgrim’s Rest

    Diggings Museum

    Just southeast of town along the Graskop road is the open-air Diggings Museum, where you can see how gold was panned. You need to visit on a tour, which you can arrange through the information centre.

  • Sights in Barberton

    Barberton History and Mining Museum

    In the old Transvaal Hotel (1882), this treasure trove of local history exhibits a hotchpotch of items from weaponry and greenstone samples to some fool's gold and an old R1 note bearing Jan van Riebeeck's face.

  • Sights in Blyde River Canyon

    God's Window

    A viewpoint offering amazing vistas. Take the trail up to the rainforest (300 steps), where you might spot rare birds, including the elusive loerie, on the boardwalk to the viewpoint.

  • Sights in Blyde River Canyon

    Lisbon Falls

    This waterfall is a highlight of the Blyde River Canyon area, especially in summer (October to March), when the water flows hardest.

  • Sights in Blyde River Canyon

    Pinnacle

    A striking skyscraper-like rock formation.

  • Sights in Barberton

    Songimvelo Game Reserve

    This beautiful 560-sq-km reserve sits in lowveld country south of Barberton, with high-altitude grassland areas on its eastern edge along the mountainous Swaziland border. There are no lions, but there are numerous other introduced species, including leopards, zebras, giraffes and various antelopes, and both guided wildlife drives and walks are available. Note that walking is limited to certain areas, and walkers must be accompanied by a guide.

  • Sights in Hazyview

    Shangana Cultural Village

    This touristy recreation of a traditional Shangaan community features – depending on the time of day – a market, farming activity and house building. There are also displays of masocho (warriors) uniforms and weaponry, the relating of customs and history by a sangoma (traditional healer), cooking, dancing and the imbibing of byala (traditional beer). The Marula Crafts Market is also located here.

  • Sights in Sabie

    Komatiland Forestry Museum

    This museum has displays on local forests and the history of the South African timber industry. There's a historical examination of the use of timber and the introduction of plantations to protect indigenous forests that were disappearing fast. The museum has wheelchair access and information on day and overnight forest hiking trails.