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Region Overview
 
 

Grass & Wetlands

 
The Grass and Wetlands are the best place for those who would like to go stargazing and for those who are in search of rare birdlife. This tranquil region is filled with spectacular mountains, lakes and ancient rock formations. When you visit the region you can also learn about the battle of Chrissiesmeer, see the Bushmen rock paintings and see the evidence of the ancient Legoya nation.
 

Towns

Amersfoort

Amersfoort

The small farming town of Amersfoort, which is named after a city in central Holland, welcomes curious Dutch tourists travelling around South Africa who are eager to learn about the town's beginnings as a Dutch Reformed parish. The Cape Dutch house in the centre of town, with its characteristic gables, has been granted national monument status as has the 1896 sandstone Paul Kruger Bridge that arches over the Vaal River. The surrounding open spaces are predominantly used for farming and make for ideal terrain for an off-road driving and biking training site.
 
The town, which is located along the banks of the Schulpspruit River in the Vaal River basin, is deeply embedded in tales of the hidden Kruger Millions and the Afrikaans heroine Racheltjie de Beer, who gave her life to protect her younger brother from the harsh cold. So you see, Amersfoort is just what you're looking for, if you're after a bit of history and peaceful solitude.
 

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Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Travellers are often astounded when they discover there's a town called Amsterdam in South Africa's Mpumalanga Province, yet the town has closer links to Scottish rather than Dutch history. In 1882, Scotsman Alexander McCorkindale's named the capital of what was to be his new republic Amsterdam in gratitude of Holland's support for the Boers during the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881). Yet the region’s history stretches back much further than the 19th century. The town is home to the country's largest private collection of stone age rock tools that can be viewed by appointment, and a short drive away is Goliath’s Footprint, a 6-foot-high geological feature shaped like a human footprint. Some call it God’s Footprint, others refer to it as Adam’s Footprint, while still others believe it's a remnant from times when giants roamed the earth. Jericho Dam, on the Mpama River, is a fishing and camping destination known for boating and water sports. Don't forget to pack a picnic basket, swimming costume and mountain bike or hiking shoes.

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Badplaas

Badplaas

eManazana, meaning 'healing waters' in siSwati, is best known for its hot mineral baths that are set in the bowl of the Dhlumudhlumu Mountains. Formerly known as Badplaas, the region attracts local and international tourists all year round. There's much to do at Forever Resorts besides water-related activities, such as go-karting, putt putt golf, paint ball and a zip line. 
 
The Cradle of Life close by is known for its predatory cats. Visitors are enthralled by the feeding and game drives, while adrenaline junkies find thrills in scuba diving at the Komati Springs dive site and adjoining cave system. A short drive away is Songimvelo Game Reserve, which is Mpumalanga's largest game reserve and the only place in the world where you may see the rare wolly cycad. The game reserve is popular for its horseback safaris that allow visitors to get up close to wildlife.
 

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Breyten

Breyten

The farming town of Breyten lies at the foot of Klipstapel, meaning 'rock pile' in Afrikaans, which in the late summer months is swathed in the pink and white of cosmos flowers. The Batwa Valley region surrounding Breyten is brimming with San history that is seldom told. These stories – like the San genocide by the Swazi people at Mushroom Rock – are narrated on a private tour through the geological features and historic sites of the valley, as you witness rock paintings in a cave within the valley.
 
Although the farming town of Breyten was a bustling railway stop between Johannesburg and Nelspruit in the early 20th century, today the only remnants of that history is the class 19 series (number 1369) steam locomotive and carriage that is painted in the South African flag and plinthed outside the old railway station. Breyten is also home to one of three leather tanneries left in South Africa. The owner will give you insight into the making of sheep leather slippers on a private tour.
 

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Carolina

Carolina

The Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve is located on Carolina’s doorstep. The region is characteristic of Mpumalanga’s highveld grassland biome, which makes it popular for birdwatching and game spotting. From hiking, rock climbing and horse riding to fishing, canoeing and mountain biking there’s so much to see and experience during a visit. The nearby 3420ha Nooitgedacht Nature Reserve protects the Moist Sandy Highveld grassland veldtype and attracts fishermen with its abundance of carp, bass and barbel in the 756ha dam. 
 
On a private tour of the area you will learn about the intriguing Bokoni civilisation – the lost tribe that inhabited the area for 500 years until the early 19th century. They built concentric stone-walled enclosures, roads and terraces that have made the area of particular interest to archaeologists and historians. Another lesser-known fact of the region is that the internationally-acclaimed Everard group of artists lived in the nearby hamlet of Bonnefoi, which is now a ghost town.
 
Hint: If you’re in search of unusual experiences, stay in the repurposed double decker bus along Van Riebeek Road in Carolina. 
 

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Chrissiesmeer

Chrissiesmeer

This peaceful, countryside retreat in Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region is an ideal family getaway and a birder's paradise. Chrissiesmeer has two large freshwater lakes and over 320 pans that are inhabited by 82 water bird species and more than 100 other bird species. The circular, 60km self-drive birding route winds its way along the wetlands. Chrissiesmeer is home to three crane species – Blue, Grey Crowned, and Wattled – as well as the lesser flamingo. Lake Chrissie, after which the town is named, is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa measuring 7km in length and 3km in width. Chrissiesmeer is also home to various frog and butterfly species and it hosts an annual Frog and Wild Flower Festival in December and January respectively. Due to its small size, it's an ideal place for stargazing and taking long exposure photographs of the Milky Way.

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Ermelo

Ermelo

The ruins of Nyebe settlement – the District Six of Mpumalanga Province – lies a few minutes south of Ermelo city centre. Today, all that remains of Nyebe are overgrown house foundations, dried up water wells and stairs that lead to nowhere. The ruins and aerial satellite images from Google Maps tell the story of forced removals that occurred across South Africa during apartheid. This non-white community of thousands of people was razed to the ground in the 1960s after it was reclassified a whites only area, according to the 1950 Group Area’s Act. The settlement was rumoured to shelter members of Umkhonto weSizwe – the ANC military wing – overnight, who were travelling from Johannesburg to Swaziland and Mozambique. 
 
Cenotaph Msukaligwa in Ermelo city centre honours liberation heroes from the Gert Sibande District Municipality, who fought for racial equality in the liberation struggle. But the region also has much to boast about in terms of cultural, natural and geographic attractions. Ermelo is often used as a base by those wanting to explore the surrounding region, such as the stone circle ruins of the Bakoni people near Machadodorp, Bonnefoi ghost town that was home to the internationally-acclaimed Everard group of artists, and the bushman rock art of the Thiqwa Caves (also known as La Rochelle Caves).
 

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Hendrina

Hendrina

Hendrina is situated in cosmos country, where autumn brings with it blankets of cosmos flowers – it’s truly a sight to behold. While Hendrina is predominantly a mining and farming town its location midway between Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park has made it a favoured rest stop, but perhaps Antiek-Sjiek might have something to do with that too. This antique collector’s treasure trove is found in a house that dates back to the 1920s, soon after the town was established in 1914. Each room tells a different story and visitors can delve through crockery, silverware, musical instruments as well as Singer sewing machines and jewellery, while the restaurant serves Afrikaans farm-style food. The local municipality offices across the street display an extensive collection of historical artefacts that date back to the Anglo-Boer War, which is open to visitors during office hours. The lake on the outskirts of town has picnicking and playground facilities, otherwise do a horseback outride.

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Morgenzon

Morgenzon

Morgenzon, meaning ‘morning sun’ in Dutch, is a sleepy farming town situated along the banks of the Osspruit River, midway between Standerton and Ermelo. Morgenzon was laid out in 1912, although a few of the farms have been around since the 1880s and five generations down the line their descendants still till the soil to harvest maize and farm cattle and sheep.
 
The town was laid out around the sandstone Marnico Hotel, which was built  as an overnight wagon stopover between the two towns. To this day the Marnico Hotel remains the town’s oldest landmark and also houses a restaurant, pub and gift shop. Visit Morgenzon if you want to unwind from city life as there is little to do here besides admire the countryside on walks around the flat expanse of grassland, go fishing in the nearby dams or play golf a round of golf.
 

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Perdekop

Perdekop

When you’re in the region of Perdekop, which translates to 'horse hill' in English, you have to go for a horse ride in the nearby hills. Highly recommended is a visit to Oom Gert Van Der Westhuizen's private Roodedraai Museum, which is one of the largest collections of Anglo-Boer War memorabilia in the country. The old school building has been reconstructed into a historic village, complete with a general store, school house, post office and restaurant. His most prized possession is a letter penned by Sir Winston Churchill, which you can find on the shelves of his private museum where you will also find thousands of artefacts dating back to well before the Anglo-Boer War. Among his many relics you will can a stone where Dingaan’s impis sharpened their spears, medicine bottles and other curiosities dug up from the British concentration camps. It’s an educational trip that marvels both children and adults.

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Piet Retief

Piet Retief

The Mkhondo area has a rich Zulu, Afrikaner and British history and is brimming with historic sites, such as the Intombe Battle Fields where Zulu forces defeated British troops and the Voortrekker Monument with imprinted ox-wagon tracks from the Great Trek. The town’s most prominent landmark is the Dutch Reformed Church, which was designed in 1921 by famed architect Gerard Moerdyk.
 
Heyshope Dam, on the Assegaai River, is one of the biggest dams in the province and the country. Pack a picnic basket, your fishing rods, swimming costume and tents as you head off for a break along the water’s edge. With a shoreline of 120km, you’ll surely find a suitable spot to reel in fish, after all the dam has a reputation as the best place in the country to fish for largemouth bass, but you’ll also find carp and yellowfish in its waters. If you’re planning to travel further, the kingdom of Swaziland is just to the east and KwaZulu-Natal Province is a few kilometers to the south of Mkhondo.
 

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Volksrust

Volksrust

Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian human rights activist, featured prominently in South Africa's liberation struggle during the 20th century. He is best known for adopting a passive resistance campaign, called Satyagraha, and concerned himself with the plight of Indians in South Africa.
 
In November 1913, Gandhi mobilised more than two thousand peaceful protestors to march from Natal to Transvaal in protest against the Immigration Law that prohibited Indians from residing in the area. He was arrested, sent to Volksrust Correctional Services and released on £50 bail. One hundred and fifty five protestors were arrested in the days following his initial arrest and he was arrested two more times. 
 
In early 1914 the government agreed to all of Gandhi’s terms, they abolished the £3 tax and the Black Act, allowed Indians to move freely into the Transvaal and recognised Hindu-Muslim marriages. Today, Gandhi’s prison cell has been converted into a classroom where inmates are taught life skills to help them adjust to life after prison, however it is not accessible to the public. 
 

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Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom is set in a peaceful valley overlooked by Ossewakop Mountain. It's a world-renowned birding destination and home to three major bird habitat types, namely wetlands, grasslands and forests. Birders journey to Wakkerstroom with the hopes of spotting the rare Rudd's Lark and Botha's Lark from the four bird hides in the tranquil setting of the surrounding wetland reserve.
 
As the second oldest town in the province, Wakkerstroom is brimming with history that is only rivalled by its natural splendour. You'll appreciate the fresh country air on a leisurely hike up Ossewakop with its panoramic views, while mountain bikers may want to cycle to the top instead. No country retreat is complete without a fishing expedition, Zaaihoek and Martin's Dam offer just that. Wakkerstroom is less than three hours' drive from Johannesburg making it an exciting family Sho't Left getaway. Don't forget to pack your binoculars, camera and hiking shoes! 
 

 

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