Mpumulanga - Home to Kruger National Park
Mpumalanga, 'the land of the rising sun' to its Siswati- and Zulu- speaking inhabitants, extends east from Gauteng to Mozambique and Swaziland. To many visitors the province is synonymous with the Kruger National Park, the real draw of South Africa's east flank, and one of Africa's best game parks.
Kruger occupies most of Mpumalanga's and Northern Province's borders with Mozambique, and covers over 20,000 square kilometers - an area the size of Wales or Massachusetts. Unashamedly populist, Kruger is the easiest African game park to drive around in on your own; staying at one of it's many well-run rest camps. On its western border lie a number of private reserves, offering the chance to escape the Kruger crush at a price, with well-informed rangers conducting safaris in open vehicles.
Apart from the tempting magnet of big-game country, Mpumalanga also has some stunning scenery in the mountainous area known as the Escarpment, a couple of hours drive west of the Kruger and easily tacked onto a visit to the park. With the exception of Pilgrim's Rest, none of the Escarpment towns merits exploration, but they make good night stops to and from Kruger, and there are some legendary stunning views as you drive around, where the mountains drop to the Lowveld. The most famous viewpoints - God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Three Rondavels - are along the lip of the Escarpment, which can be seen on a one-day 156 km drive from Sabie.
The views of Blyde River Canyon are most famous of all and, while you can't drive into the canyon, there are some fabulous hiking and river-rafting opportunities in this area.