The Cultural Heartlands welcome you!

05 July 2017 by Katy La Grange

Of all Mpumalanga’s regions, none capture the vibrancy and spirit of South Africa’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ quite like the Cultural Heartlands. It’s the mix of opposites that all seem to find their place in this region that give this South African gem and the Eastern province its unique appeal.

On one side, the soft natural beauty of the Highveld grassland lies alongside the colours and textures of the Ndebele people and the invigorating outdoor adventures provided by the region, on the other, there are industrial powerhouses, the bloody Anglo-Boer War history and manmade features that have all shaped this region and left their marks on its land. 


All of these elements play an important role in making the Cultural Heartlands an intriguing treasure trove of tourist opportunities waiting to be explored. Over the next month, we will discover everything the Cultural Heartlands have to offer!

The Cultural Heartlands at a glance

The Ndebele may be one of South Africa’s smallest ethnic groups, but they are also one of the most distinctive and globally recognized. Their brightly painted homes are covered in geometric murals, unmistakable traditional attire and beautiful beadwork that are synonymous with the Cultural Heartlands and considered by many to be the jewels in this region’s crown.

Yet there is much more to the Cultural Heartlands than only the Ndebele people. 

The region’s mix of rolling Highveld grasslands, mixed bushveld and Drakensveld provide the perfect ecosystems for many rare & endemic species to flourish. Some of these include the highly sought after Lanatus Cycad, rare bird species like the wattled crane and black eagle and a menagerie of lesser known species such as mole snakes, hedgehogs and bull frogs. This is accompanied by a lengthy list of the usual suspects iconic to Mpumalanga, including the white rhino, leopard, buffalo and various antelope species. 


The region’s many dams provide the perfect playground for the adventurous, as well as ideal conservation locations for many aquatic species. Loskop Dam manages the fine balancing act of hosting both the thriving Forever Resorts - that draws local and international tourists, the undertaking of some of the region’s most challenging conservation projects in 23,000 hectares of pristine bushveld. The lesser known Witbank Dam holds the title of being the largest municipal dam in the country and is a playground for fishermen and boaters alike. Numerous temporary and permanent pans provide the region with wildlife spectacles, such as the arrival of hundreds of brightly coloured flamingos.

The Cultural Heartlands are also awash with history. Key moments in the Anglo-Boer War were played out in this region, remnants of which can be found in almost every town and village. The Botshabelo Mission Station is not just a monument to the Ndebele; it is also where the first English bible was translated into an African language. The region’s many Heritage Sites will keep history buffs engrossed for hours, while historical tours bring to life events and places, which have shaped the nation.

For the adventurous, the region is home to numerous hiking trails, 4x4 routes, mountain bike routes and trail runs. Witbank is home to one of South Africa’s premier skydiving facilities and the province’s most popular casino, with Horse Riding Safari’s, 50m Abseiling challenges, sports fishing and more. The Cultural Heartland is a playground for thrill seekers and a retreat for the weary.

With a range of unusual attractions like the Middelburg Ghost Tour, the world’s largest coal-fired power station, the country’s first Prayer Oven and so much more, every taste is catered for. 

So whether its cultural encounters or ‘one of kind’ experiences you’re after, the Cultural Heartlands are a treasure trove of hidden gems just waiting to be explored!

To find out more about the Cultural Heartlands and the various attractions found in this region contact the Middelburg Tourist Information Office: reservations@middelburginfo.com | +27 (0)13 243 2253 or visit them by following the GPS coordinates: 25°46’ 39.36” & 29°26’54.43”