On one side there is the soft natural beauty of the Highveld grassland, the colours and textures of the Ndebele people and the invigorating outdoor adventures this region provides. On the other, there are the industrial powerhouses, the bloody Anglo-Boer War history and manmade features that have all shaped this region and left their marks on this land.
All play an important role in making the Cultural Heartlands an intriguing treasure trove of tourism opportunities just waiting to be explored. Over the next month we will be exploring everything the Cultural Heartlands has 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 recognised. Their brightly painted homes covered in geometric murals, unmistakable traditional dress and beautiful beadwork is synonymous with the Cultural Heartlands and considered by many to be the jewel in this region’s crown.
Yet there is much more to the Cultural Heartlands that simply the Ndebele.
The regions mix of rolling Highveld grasslands, mixed bushveld and Drakensveld provide the perfect ecosystems for many rare & endemic species to flourish. Including the highly sort after Lanatus Cycad, rare bird species like the wattled crane and black eagle and a menagerie of lesser known species like the mole snakes, hedgehogs and bull frogs, along with a lengthy list of the usual suspects, iconic of Mpumalanga, including white rhino, leopard, buffalo and various antelope species.
The regions many dams provide the perfect playground for the adventurous and ideal conservation locations for many aquatic species. With Loskop Dam managing the fine balancing act of hosting both the thriving Forever Resorts that draws both local and international tourists and the Nature Reserve that undertakes 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. While the regions numerous temporary and permanent pans provide the region with wildlife spectacles like the arrival of hundreds of brightly coloured flamingo.
The Cultural Heartlands is also awash with history. Key moments in the Anglo-Boer War were played out in this region and remnants of this 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 regions many Heritage Sites will keep history buffs engrossed for hours. While historical tours bring to life events and places, which have shaped this nation.
For the adventurous the region is home to numerous hiking trails, 4x4 routes, mountain bike routes and trail runs. While 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 the Cultural Heartlands is 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: firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 (0)13 243 2253 or visit them by following the GPS coordinates: 25°46’ 39.36” & 29°26’54.43”