Known as “the Place of Sunrise”, Mpumalanga is home to some of the most incredible wildlife, restaurants and resorts under the African sun and is filled with breathtaking sights and extraordinary activities for the whole family. Go on guided safari tours through the game and nature reserves, visit some of the country’s oldest heritage sites and, of course, enjoy a cocktail, while the children splash about in the pool. There’s plenty to see and do in Mpumalanga, so put on your sunscreen, grab your flip-flops and get ready for the ultimate summer vacation this December! Here are some of the top attractions to check out while in Mpumalanga.
1. Catch a glimpse of the Big Five at Kruger National Park
From mighty lions and leopards to diverse varieties of bird species, Kruger National Park is one of the biggest game reserves on the continent, with nearly two million hectares of breath-taking bushveld to explore. People from around the world flock to the Kruger Park all year-round in the hope of catching a glimpse of big game, and while the park tends to get quite busy this time of year, it’s well worth the visit, if for no other reason than to appreciate South Africa’s rich natural history up close. While the chances of contracting malaria at Kruger are relatively low in general, summer appears to be one of the riskier periods requiring special precautions, like taking malaria prophylactic medication, applying insect repellent regularly and wearing light, long-sleeved clothing, are well advised.
2. Visit the oldest known caves in the world
Situated within the majestic Drakensberg escarpment, the Sudwala Caves are among the oldest in the world, and rest in pre-Cambrian dolomite rock – the second-oldest known sedimentary rocks on earth. The caves span 30km in length with 600m accessible to visitors, and date back three billion years. Take a fascinating hour-long tour of the caves, where you can also experience the incredible acoustics and natural “air-conditioning” of the Sudwala amphitheatre provided by a constant source of air from outside, the source of which is unknown. You’ll definitely want to charge up the camera and maybe even get your hands on a spare memory card for this one!
3. Stop and smell the roses at Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club
After a full day of incredible sight-seeing and activities, wouldn’t it be lovely to return to a relaxing resort for a cool swim and a sundowner at the Augusta Club Lounge overlooking the Gary Player golf course? Graceland’s four-star Walmont hotel, located in the serene Secunda area, is particularly great for fun, relaxing family holidays, with a glittering pool, kiddies’ play areas, go-karting and a gaming arcade for the kids, as well as incredible restaurants, a casino, a world-class golf course and a relaxing spa for adults. Graceland also hosts regular events – from music concerts to stand-up comedy – and specialises in fun for the whole family. Keep an eye on graceland.co.za for upcoming shows and events, and be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
4. Tuck into a heavenly dinner at Madison’s Bistro
While you’re swanning around and enjoying a holiday at Graceland Hotel, be sure to make dinner reservations at Madison’s Bistro, a New York loft-style eatery with everything from Idaho crispy fried potato skins for starters to a sizzling selection of gourmet burgers and delicious pizzas on the menu. Madison’s Bistro is also a great lunch spot for those in search of light snacks, with American-style street foods like foot-long hotdogs, beer batter-fried hake and fresh, crunchy salads. The restaurant also features a range of child-friendly menu options that the little ones will love, including yummy pastas, mini-sliders and soda floats, all at very affordable prices. In short, go for the food and stay for the colourful and energetic vintage American atmosphere.
5. Go river rafting at Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Blyde River Canyon, which cuts through the escarpment and flows from Drakensberg to the Limpopo Lowveld, is the ideal spot for anyone looking to get their heart racing while on holiday this December. Tackle fast and furious rapids that range from grade three to five, followed by a more leisurely path lined with picturesque fauna and flora to calm your nerves. Along with rip-roaring white-water rafting and kayaking adventures, adrenaline-seekers can also book a tandem paragliding session to enjoy a birds-eye view of the canyon while free-falling through the African sky.
With so much to experience in beautiful, sunny Mpumalanga, there’s plenty of reason to escape to this incredible destination and experience all it has to offer the sun-seeking, adrenaline-loving holidaymaker!
– Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club