Highlights of Mpumalanga

With just 48 hours to explore Mpumalanga we based ourselves just outside Sabie, a small town abundant in forests, nestled within the beautifully luscious, green province. Mpumalanga is opulent in South Africa’s most impressive areas of natural beauty including waterfalls, canyons and of course, the world renowned ‘Kruger National Park’. Given our limited time, Sabie was the perfect location, close to the Blyde River Canyon, Lisbon Falls and quaint country towns of Hazyview and Graskop.

Stepping into Tanamera Lodge was like entering a jungle oasis with just 7 thatched treehouse chalets overlooking the Sabie River Valley with private decks, plunge pools and loungers. Not only is Tanamera Lodge the perfect escape, an opportunity to slow-down away from frantic city life, you are welcomed as long lost friends and made to feel comfortable and cared for throughout your stay. I have a longing to return to Tanamera Lodge in the winter, simply to light the fireplace and sit with a book overlooking the valley.

Each luxury chalet is equipped with a king-size bed, mosquito net, stone bath and waterfall shower; a tranquil, unspoiled haven. The main lodge maintains that cosy, rustic atmosphere of the chalets, with a homely lounge and dining area, looking over the infinity pool.

The lodge is a short 20 minute drive from Sabie and given its relative remoteness, both breakfast and dinner are included in each booking. From hot breakfasts and fresh fruit salads to a three course dinner, after a long day of travelling, there was no greater feeling than returning to a delicious feast. My only regret? We didn’t stay longer.

Just 60km from Tanamera, Lisbon Falls stands 94 meter tall, one of the highest waterfalls in the province. Watch this magical creation in awe as water flow down the valley from an incredible vantage point just a short stroll from the car park.

Close-by other natural attractions include Berlin Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window and of course, The Blyde River Canyon. If you are short on time, I’d recommend driving straight to The Three Rondavels view point for the best overall view of the canyon. (*bear in mind the viewpoint has a R20 entrance fee, opening at sunrise and closing at sunset.*)

One of the largest green canyons in the world, the Blyde River Canyon has become an increasingly popular site amongst both local and international visitors. The Nature Reserve is home to all five of South Africa’s primates as well as Hippos and crocodile in the rivers and wetlands of Swadini Dam.

After exploring waterfalls and walking up canyons, there is only one thing left to do: Harries Pancakes, Graskop. Afrikaans for grassy hillock, Graskop might be the most touristic town in Mpumalanga but don’t let that put you off, Harries Pancakes is well worth it! Not only is it tradition when driving through the province to detour via your closest Harries, they serve delicious savoury and sweet pancakes. While I won’t advocate their coffee, no trip to Mpumalanga is complete without a Harries Pancake and cup of Rooibos tea!

The majority of our 48 hours were spent exploring the Panoramic route, which spans the breadth of the Blyde River Canyon from God’s window up to the Three Rondavels.  As a photographer, the most exciting thing about capturing the beauty of this province is its unpredictability. We drove for hours through thick fog and it was only when we were 10 meters from the Three Rondavels View Point did the clouds break and light streak through into the valley basin. We stood in awe. It was mesmerising and we had just seconds to grab our cameras and capture the moment before the the canyon was encompassed once again. That’s what it’s about: capturing these unpredictable landscapes in their truest form.

While Sabie, Hazyview and Graskop are somewhat similar, they all have their unique charms. Hazyview, popular amongst tourists on route to The Kruger National Park is well known for its banana and macadamia nuts. Sabie on the other hand, a malaria-tree holiday spot for adventurous travellers looking for hiking trails, mountain-biking routes and craft stores. There is nothing I love more than stopping in each of these little towns while exploring this beautiful diverse nation.

Leaving Mpumalanga was a bittersweet feeling. I was so happy with the content we had got but I couldn’t help but feel, there is so much left to explore. We only touched the surface…

Top Tips:

  • Bring cash for the viewpoints (approximately R20 per person)
  • If you are in a rush, head straight to The Three Rondavels View Point
  • Watch the time – the viewpoint gates close at sunset
  • Arrive at Harries Pancakes early to miss the queues
  • Give yourself a few days to see the Blyde River Canyon, in case of bad weather

Tanamera Lodge

Address: Sabie Road, Hazyview, Kiepersol, 1260, South Africa

Harries Pancakes

Address: Cnr Louis Trichardt & Church streets, Graskop, 1270, South Africa
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8am–6pm

All images by myself and Brandon Hinton.