One of the country's most scenic self-drives, the Panorama Route, explores the Mpumalanga highlands, or the north-eastern section of the Great Escarpment of the Drakensberg. In these rugged mountains the plateau comes to an abrupt and dramatic halt, falling steeply away into the Lowveld accompanied by incredible views out over the grasslands of Africa.
The most popular stretch of the route is the R532 that winds its way from the town of Sabie via a selection of graceful waterfalls - the Sabie Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Mac Mac Falls - to God's Window, the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the three Rondawels.
The oldest well-preserved sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks spanning the time period of 3.2 billion years ago. The trail has 11 marked points, including Lebombo view which is 25km out on the trail. This is a beautiful lookout showcasing fascinating rock formations and is perfect for a picnic. There are no toilets or cellular phone reception on the route, but travellers with passports can cross the border into Swaziland and visit the excellent mining museum just 2km from the border where there are toilet facilities and a restaurant.
Set on a 1000 hectare game reserve, JGI Chimpanzee Eden is a home to chimpanzees that have been misplaced from their natural habitat. The world renowned Jane Goodall Institute has made this tranquil venue their South African sanctuary and has committed itself to the rescue and care of chimpanzees in need of refuge.
Being the 1st and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa, this venue will be able to bring the world of chimpanzees closer through education, tourism and modern technology. Entering the reserve, a mere 15 km from the bustling city of Nelspruit, visitors can expect to be captivated by the beautiful bush surroundings with most of the natural game species roaming the reserve.
60min tours daily at 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00
Entrance fees are charged for the tours.
Photos - Chimp Eden
The Lowveld Botanical Garden is all about the two rivers that run through it; that fashion the garden with a unique quality of its own. The Crocodile River enters the garden with a tremendous rush, gushing through a narrow, pot-holed solid rock gorge, whilst its counterpart, the Nels River, cascades down a waterfall from the west and the two merge to form a gentle pool.
The Lowveld National Botanical Garden lies just outside of the town of Mbombela, a beautiful 159 hectare space dominated by rugged, rocky river scenery, and home to over 600 naturally occurring plant species, as well as a further 2,000 that have been introduced to the garden.
Gates open 08:00 - 17:00
A small entrance fee is charged at the gate.
The historic mining village of Kaapsehoop is situated about 25 kilometers from the town of Nelspruit. The Kaapsehoop area offers exceptionally beautiful landscapes, complete with gushing waterfalls, indigenous forests and rugged hillsides.
Up to 200 feral horses enjoy the freedom of the 17,000 hectares around Kaapsehoop and are loyally protected by locals. The breed of the horses seems to be predominantly Boerperd and herd sizes range from small bachelor herds of 3 or 4, to structured herds of more than 20 horses.
The Sudwala Caves are part of the Malmani Dolomite Ridge, in turn part of the Drakensberg escarpment, near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. They are solutional caves – that is to say they were formed by natural acid in groundwater seeping through faults and joins, and dissolving rock. This most often occurs when the rock is dolomite rock and/or limestone. The caves themselves formed about 240 million years ago. They are the oldest caves in the world.
There are a number of speleothem structures in the cave, known by names such as the "Lowveld Rocket", "Samson's Pillar", and the "Screaming Monster"; some have been dated to 200 million years old. There are also microbial fossils of a cyanobacterium known as collenia in the rock; these formed 2000 million years ago.
The Samora Machel Monument and Museum is situated in Mbuzini in the Lebombo Mountains approximately 800 metres toward the Mozambique border. The Monument was designed, erected, and named in honour and remembrance of the late President Samora Machel of Mozambique.
The Tupolev Tu-134 carrying President Machel and his entourage was en route back to Maputo following a meeting in Zambia when it crashed on Sunday, 19 October 1986 killing 35 on board, including President Machel and the Russian crew.
Photos - South African National Society