With access to 11 provincial nature reserves throughout the province of Mpumalanga it’s no surprise that annually, the month of September is met with much anticipation ahead of SANParks National Parks Week. An annual initiative since 2015, The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) opens some of its nature reserves to the public for free, as part of the SANParks National Parks Week, aimed at encouraging locals and domestic tourists to visit the respective reserves as well as promote a growing culture of travel and domestic tourism.
Hoping to increase the number of day visits across the 11 participating nature reserves, visitors are invited to take advantage of this exciting initiative and explore, appreciate and share in the diverse wildlife and natural heritage of the many different communities.
Having identified that most South Africans are without access to the national parks, SANparks introduced this initiative in the hopes to urge local South Africans to take pride of the environment and the various natural heritage sites. In doing so and as an indirect byproduct, the Mpumalanga Parks Week initiative builds local awareness of the growing importance to take care of the country’s natural resources while educating the community about conservation and local tourism.
Every September, for 1 week only, visitors gain access to selected nature reserves, free of charge for day visitors only. Applicable to groups of not more than 20 people at a time and the only requirement being the presentation of a South African identity document or a valid driver’s license, domestic visitors enjoy access to the following nature reserves:
Located along the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, the Manyeleti Nature Reserve is made up of open savanna’s and mixed Lowveld bushveld with dense riverine vegetation following the water courses. With all the major game species well represented in the reserve and over 300 bird species to be spotted, the Manyeleti Nature Reserve is a haven of biodiversity.
Songimvelo and Kromdraai Camp
Known as the largest provincial game reserve in South Africa, the Songimvelo Game Reserve has the highest known plant diversity in the Mpumalanga Province. With more than 1400 known species of fauna and flora, the Songimvelo and Komdraai landscapes are some of the most aesthetically attractive areas in the province of Mpumalanga.
Known as the longest dam in the Southern hemisphere, the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve is just 55km from Middelburg in Mpumalanga. Acting as a natural floodplain, this pristine nature reserve is home to the eland and other species of antelope, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest & white rhino.
Nestled between Pilgrim’s Rest and Mashishing, the Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve creates a critical water catchment eco-system for the area.
Mahushe Shongwe and Mthethomusha
Offering visitors idyllic walking and hiking trials, 4x4 tracks as well as a variety of wildlife and birding species to enjoy, the area is considered one of Mpumalanga’s prime conservation areas, with a growing number of visitors to both Mahushe Shongwe and Mthethomusha each year.
The S.S. Skosana Nature Reserve is located just 80km north of Bronkhorstspruit, home to an abundance of wildlife including wildebeest, zebra and kudu as well as exquisite hiking trails and walks throughout the park.
The Mdala Nature Reserve is one of the larger western Mpumalanga reserves, just one hour from the capital city of Tshwane. Offering the ideal conditions for self-drive trips, enjoy an abundance of zebra, impala, tsessebe, kudu, waterbuck, red hartebeest and if you are lucky, leopards and the blackback jackal.
Conserving an easterly Kalahari thornveld landscape, the Mkhombo Nature Reserve offers a variety of natural habitats across the 11 000ha reserve and home to some of the region’s most impressive angling in the area.
Blyde River Canyon
Known as the third largest canyon in the world and the largest green canyon in the world, the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve has lush subtropical foliage and a natural rain forest. With a number of well-visited attractions, don’t miss God's Window, Wonder View, the Pinnacle, the Three Rondavels and ‘Bourke’s Luck Potholes’.