6 Must Do Experiences in Mpumalanga, South Africa (+Photos)

When tourists visit South Africa, they are quick to flock to what they think is the country’s capital, Cape Town. Don’t get me wrong, Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world, but South Africa is a bona fide hotbed of spectacular scenes and it is an injustice to only stick to the southern shores.

Mpumalanga, the “place where the sun rises” is one such region in the northeast of the country. It is best known as the home of the Kruger National Park but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this outrageously beautiful province.

From cascading waterfalls hidden within verdant forests to dramatic canyons carved by the hands of time, Mpumalanga offers a sensory feast for the intrepid traveler. With each passing kilometer, the landscape unfolds anew, revealing panoramas that stir the soul and ignite the imagination.

So, join me as I take you on a journey through one of my favorite places on Earth, showing you the best things to do in Mpumalanga and offering some insider tips to make your stay extra special.

How to Get to Mpumalanga

Getting to Mpumalanga

The biggest mistake you could make is to fly into the Skukuza airport, spend a day or two in the Kruger Park, and rush back to the sandy shores of the Cape.

You can reach Mpumalanga in less than 2 hours from Johannesburg and drive through several different landscapes along the way. You can also fly into Kruger Mpumalanga Airport on a domestic flight; the airport is 20 km outside of the provincial capital, Mbombela.

Most of these attractions are along the Panorama Route, one of the most beautiful roads in the country. You can drive along the road in one day but to fully appreciate all the wonders, you should at least plan two or three days in the area.

Go on Safari in the Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

I can dedicate hours of writing to waxing lyrical about how much I love this place, but I will spare you the effort and cut to the chase: IT IS AMAZING. Spanning over 19,000 square kilometers, it is 30% larger than the Serengeti and much of its wonder is due to the fact that you can easily drive around by yourself.

Driving in Kruger

You can (and should) take a guided safari too, but nothing beats driving around at the crack of dawn, waking up with the bushveld noises, and watching the sun rise over the savannah.

The Kruger Park has 23 camps and there are dozens of private reserves on the fringes of the park too. In recent years they have added luxury, unfenced camps inside the park, allowing you to get closer to nature than ever before.


This is the only place in Africa where they maintain healthy breeding populations of all of the Big 5 but there are hundreds of species of animals that make the park so beloved. The park also offers bush walks and night drives that serve as your backstage pass to nature’s masterpiece.

PRO TIP: One of the greatest pleasures is packing a picnic and enjoying it at a secluded lookout point or one of the many picnic spots. There are plenty of restaurants and shops inside the park but cooking in an unfenced space in the park is a unique experience. Just watch out for the monkeys!

Feel Small in The Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

Imagine if you planted a bunch of trees in the Grand Canyon. Well, imagine no more. The Blyde River Canyon is the largest green canyon in the world and the third largest canyon, behind the Grand Canyon and the Fish River Canyon.

The sheer magnitude of the Blyde River Canyon is not easily captured on film and it must be seen to be fully appreciated. My favorite way to experience the canyon is by visiting the Three Rondavels Viewpoint. From here you can see the namesake rock formations, three round peaks resembling traditional round houses, or rondavels.

You can also make your way into the belly of the canyon and take a river cruise, admiring the towering canyon walls from below. For the more adventurous souls, hot air balloon rides provide a unique perspective, allowing you to soak in the splendor of the canyon from above.

PRO TIP: Don’t visit too early in the morning as misty conditions can hinder your view. You will need at least an hour or two for your visit as you will have a hard time pulling yourself away from the view.

Sink to the Belly of The Graskop Gorge

Graskop Gorge

Located near the town of Graskop, the Graskop Gorge offers an exhilarating blend of natural beauty and adrenaline-pumping activities. Daredevils can experience the ultimate thrill on the Big Swing, a heart-pounding free-fall experience that sends you soaring over the lush gorge below.

For those seeking a milder adventure, try the zipline across the gorge, a personal favorite, allowing you to soar across the gorge while firmly secured in a harness. If that is still too extreme, you can also walk across the suspension bridge for a safer view.

Graskop Gorge

The Graskop Gorge Lift is a modern addition to the gorge that seamlessly blends in with nature and doesn’t spoil the view. You will glide down to the floor of the canyon where you can follow the wooden elevated walkway to see the indigenous forest floor up close. Along the way you will be captivated by the installations, presenting information about the biome in colorful and captivating ways.

PRO TIP: Don’t skip the town of Graskop. It is small but overflowing with charm. Pay a visit to Harry’s Pancakes to try a national treasure and hop across the road to play dress up and take old-timey photos at the souvenir store.

See the Power of Water at Burke’s Luck Potholes

Burke's Luck Potholes

Although South Africa has more than enough potholes on the roads, these natural potholes have been there well before the first roads were built. At the confluence of the Treur and Blyde rivers, pebbles and sand have been swirling for millions of years, carving caverns in the bright orange rock.

You can stroll around a series of walkways, meandering past waterfalls and over the potholes. These cylindrical potholes are a testament to the power of water and you will be hypnotized when standing above the rushing whirlpools below.

PRO TIP: Don’t just rush to the potholes. There are beautiful waterfalls and rocky outcrops to walk around. Be on the lookout for tiny critters bathing in the sun too!

Go Fishing in Dullstroom


The small towns of Mpumalanga add to the province’s charm but are sadly often overlooked as they don’t lie along the main N4 highway to Mbombela. But it is more than worth taking the time to explore the small towns like Graskop, Sabie, and Dullstroom.

The latter is nestled amidst the rolling hills of Mpumalanga and sits at a much higher altitude than the rest of the province, creating a cool climate perfect for fly fishing.

Anglers flock to its pristine rivers and dams in search of the elusive catch, with misty mornings mimicking that of the Scottish Highlands (but here, the sun eventually comes out!). The town is laden with cozy cafes, boutique shops, and welcoming locals.

Rose Cottage B&B

Take your time strolling down the main road, enjoying wine and beer tastings, browsing quaint candy stores, and soaking in the simpler life. There is also a lovely weekend market in the park where local artisans and craftsmen sell their wares.

Around town, you can also enjoy plenty of adventure activities like horseback riding in the mountains, ATV adventures, or even just a leisurely hike. Dullstroom provides the perfect retreat for those seeking a peaceful getaway in the heart of nature.

PRO TIP: Try the trout! The town is famous for its rainbow trout and you can try it at many restaurants in the area. Mrs Simpson’s Restaurant, named after Wallace Simpson, is a firm favorite with its country kitchen aesthetic and world-class food.

Peek Through God’s Window

God's Window

The Drakensberg is synonymous with its enormous presence in the Kwa Zulu Natal province but this mammoth range stretches as far as Mpumalanga, serving nothing but views all the way. On the far northern reaches of the escarpment, you will find God’s Window; a more perfect name for a landmark has never existed.

Climb the 300 stairs to the viewpoint and gaze out over the expansive Lowveld, marveling at its lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and distant mountain ranges. On clear days, the view stretches as far as Mozambique, providing a truly awe-inspiring experience. God’s Window is not just a lookout point; it is a place where you start to recharge your spirit with every breathtaking step to the top.

PRO TIP: God’s Window is as fickle as they come with misty conditions often completely spoiling the view. It’s best to visit it closer to noon and try to wait for a sunny day to increase your chances of clear skies.

Go Chasing Waterfalls

Mpumalanga Waterfalls

Mpumalanga is blessed with an abundance of majestic waterfalls, each more captivating than the last. From the thundering cascades of Lisbon Falls to the serene beauty of Lone Creek Falls, these natural wonders never fail to astonish. My tip is if you see a sign that says “Waterfall, this way”, take the detour.

Many of these waterfalls are free or very cheap to enter and you can almost see them from the parking lot, so add a few minutes to your driving time and soak in the cascades. You can also take a short walk to the Bridal Veil Falls or the Horseshoe Falls if you are looking for something a little more immersed in the forest.

Mac-Mac waterfallMac-Mac waterfall

An activity I have been threatening to do again is a canyoning adventure to the base of the Mac-Mac waterfall. This 4-hour hike takes you along and through the river, jumping off cliffs and swimming through cracks in the gorge, ending at the base of the 65m tall falls.

If you are after a more relaxing, family-friendly outing, you can also take a dip in the shallow yet cooling Mac-Mac pools near the top of the falls.

PRO TIP: The waterfalls are at their peak during the summer (November to March), when the Lowveld experiences its rainy season.

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