Best Scenic Drives in Mpumalanga
It doesn’t take much to get South Africans into their cars and off on a road trip adventure. The vast open spaces of our beautiful country really do lend themselves to self-drive getaways! We plan our trips to visit new and interesting places and sometimes we just leave the highway and head off on a branch road and let it deliver its own surprises.
One such road is the N4 from Johannesburg to Komatipoort through the picturesque province of Mpumalanga. Here are a few suggestions on the byways that deliver those hidden places that you miss on the fast-paced highways. Just before you reach Machadodorp you must choose your route via the panoramic Schoemanskloof or the Elands River Valley. Both are entertaining drives so do one up and one down. Via the latter route you can stop and view the old ZASM tunnel just before you reach Waterval Onder. This is the place where it is thought the fleeing President Kruger dumped the republic’s gold bullion in the river and many still search for this bounty.
Here are some suggestions for scenic drives in Mpumalanga.
For a quick getaway drive from Gauteng follow the signs to Dullstroom, a charming village with a grassy common in the center of town. It soon becomes evident that Dullstroom is all about tourism and filled with restaurants, craft shops and art galleries. Take along your fishing gear and drop a line in the municipal dams for a feisty trout.
Long Tom Pass
For a weekend away continue through Dullstroom after a lunch stop and head for Lydenburg and follow the signs to the Long Tom Pass, named after the cannon used during the Boer War. Take it nice and easy as the pass is precipitous and curving and the views into the Lowveld are magnificent. Sabie is charming but make Graskop your destination and see the amazing recently opened Graskop Gorge Lift. The lift takes you down to the gorge floor in a viewing elevator and then the fun starts. Venture across the gorge on the suspension bridge, take the plunge on the big swing or fly along on the exhilarating zip line - and much more.
Take a right from the N4 at Ngodwana to Kaapsehoop and find yourself in a time warp. This old mining town has just over 150 inhabitants and is famous for its wild horses which are descended from the British troops stationed here in the Boer War. Activities include walks to waterfalls in the forest, horse riding trails, carriage rides and of course quaint restaurants.
Take a left just after the Montrose Falls and you’re headed for the Sudwala Caves. These amazing 240 million year old caves are second only to the Cango Caves and no less spectacular. The walkway is dramatically lit and there are guided tours daily.
The Panorama Route Map starts in Sabie and winds its way to the Echo Caves and takes you on unforgettable journey along the escarpment with panoramic views at the aptly named God’s Window, cascading water through the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, dizzying views at the Blyde River Canyon and many waterfalls to cool you down. The well preserved mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest offers a look into the past with gold panning demos, an authentic saloon and hotel and delicious refreshments.
Just a ‘shot left’ from Nelspruit is the village of White River close to the placid Pine Lake and many accommodation options. Make this your base and explore the Kruger Park on day trips and chill out at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre with its cinema, car museum, art galleries and restaurants.
This is also a great base with excellent accommodation and easy access to the Panorama Route and also the Kruger National Park. There are also many places of interest as well as white water rafting, horse riding, quad bike adventures, birding, top drawer golf and also fishing.
This is just a taste of the scenic drives in Mpumalanga and there is so much more to explore. Call Thompsons and secure the best accommodation package for your road trip and have fun discovering this magnificent and diverse province.