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Mpumalanga Province

October 21, 2011 by CTGManager

MPUMALANGA – ‘THE PLACE WHERE THE SUN RISES!’ Formally known as Eastern Transvaal, Mpumalanga is considered to be one of the most geographically diverse and unbelievably beautiful places in South Africa.

Mpumalanga lies in the east of South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. In the northeast, the land rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense escarpment. In some places, this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld.

People are drawn to Mpumalanga by the magnificent scenery, by the fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870s gold rush era and a wealth of fascinating tribal legends. Mountains, panoramic passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and forests characterise the landscape. This is also Big Game Country, the setting for dozens of sanctuaries teeming with wildlife and birds. Visit the world’s most famous game reserve, climb the world’s third-highest canyon, explore the world’s oldest cave and spend the night in the world’s best private game lodges.

The entire Mpumalanga area offers exceptional opportunities for bird-watching, hiking, horse-riding and fishing. Streams once panned for gold have become the haunts of eager anglers and lazy trout. Steeped in the history of pioneers, hunters and fortune seekers, fascinating gold rush towns abound. Mpumalanga offers something for everyone.


Majuba Hill was the scene of the most important battle of the first Boer Wart, on 27 February 1881. It was a resounding victory for the Boers and, sdignificantly, led to the signing of a peace treaty and later the Pretoria Convention, between the British and the newly created South African Republic, ending the First Boer War.

Major-General Sir George Pomeroy Colley, leading 405 British soldiers of the 58th regiment and 92nd Highlanders, occupied the summit of the hill on the night of February 26-27, 1881. The Boers believed that he may have been attempting to outflank their positions at Laing’s Nek. General Colley had brought no artillery up to the summit, nor did he order his men to dig in, expecting that the Boers would retreat, That did not happen. Under Nicolas Smit, the Boers formed storming parties (estimated at 450 men) to attack the hill.

At daybreak, the 92nd Highlanders began to yell and shake their fists and the Boers,fearing an artillery attack, dispatched three storming groups of 100-200 men in a slow advance up the hill. The groups were led by Field Cornet Stephanus Roos, Commandant D.J.K. Malan and Commandant Joachim Ferreira. The Boers, being the better marksmen, kept their enemy on the slopes at bay while the groups crossed the open ground. Ferreira’s men opened up a tremendous fire on the exposed knoll and captured it. Over the next hour, the Boers poured over the top of the British line and engaged the enemy at long range, refusing hand-to-hand combat action and picking off the British one by one. The Boers were able to take advantage of the scrub and long grass which covered the hill, something that the British were not trained to do. Panicking British troops began to desert their posts, unable to see their opponents. When more Boers were seen encircling the mountain, the British line collapsed and the Boers were able to launch an attack which shattered the already crumbling British line.

In the confusion and rising casualties, Colley attempted a fighting retreat but was shot by Boer marksmen. The rest of the British force fled down the rear slopes of Majuba, straight into the fire of Boer marksmen. Two hundred and eighty Britons were killed, captured or wounded.

Although small in scope, the battle is historically significant and marked the beginning of the now-famous fire and movement (‘vuur en beweging’) tactics. It also confirmed, in the minds of the British, the strength of the Boers. ‘Remember Majuba’ became a rallying cry.

The Lisbon Falls are just three kilometers to the south of the Berlin Falls on the Lisbon River. The Lisbon River plunges down in a double stream, 90 meters high, over a semicircular rock face. There is a 100-meter footpath leading from the parking area to a vantage point, at the base of the falls for a really spectacular view. Nearby are some lovely picnic spots. Between Graskop and the Blyde River Canyon, you travel 2,2 km along a gravel road that leads west from the R532. The turn-off to the falls is about 800m south of the junction of the R532 and the R534.

Three Rondavels

At the northern end of the mighty Drakensberg Range, and standing sentry at one end of the Blyde River Canyon is the most famous – and pgotographed – attraction in the region, the Three Rondavels.
The harder rock layers on top eroded slower than the underlying softer layers of stone, which resulted in rock formations which resemble African rondavels.

Long Tom Pass | Lydenburg

Long Tom Pass is named after the cannons used during the Boer war – with an example to be seen at the crest of the Pass.

Originally used as the route for wagon drivers travelling between Mozambique and Lyndenburg, the Pass was treacherous, with steep hairpin bends and incredible descents – not to mention the malaria and sleeping sickness that bedevilled these trips – and wild animals thatpreyed on the oxen.

Today however, as you travel on the new tarred road, you will still see the old road twisting over its dangerous course but the danger is no longer present. This area is now rich in vegetation like eucalyptus and pine trees as far as the eye can see. The scene is dominated by the peaks of Mount Anderson and Mauchsberg making it quite a beautiful route to drive along.

Bulembu Pass | Barberton

The scenic Bulembu Pass takes visitors high into the mountains on the road to Swaziland from Barberton. Utmost caution must be observedas the road is steep and potholed.

Matsamo Cultural Park | Jeppes Reef

Our commitment to excellence in tourism resulted in our little village near the world famous Kruger National Park, being the overall winner in South Africa of the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Award as well as winner in the categories best Economic Impact, best Environmental management and best Social Involvement.

We strive to keep things African and authentic at Matsamo. To ensure that guests enjoy both real rural Africa as well as all modern comforts demanded sensitive innovation and artistic skills. We felt that the whole design should be representative of us and reflect our traditions and customs. To achieve this we designed and built the resort ourselves applying our own indigenous and artistic knowledge and skills. On technical matters we consulted wide to obtain the best professional advice available.

The buildings are all constructed in the time-honoured ‘hive’ style. Groups are hosted by tour guides who walk and talk visitors through Swazi culture and the significance of their traditions and customs. An arts and crafts shop where crafters from the area can market their products and an ‘African Theatre’ restaurant that has seating capacity for 300 people was added. The 50 seat restaurant Ekaya, doubles up as a conference room.

We receive guests from all over the world… and from every corner of South Africa. Visitors stay over and are entertained to African singing and dancing in a traditional Swazi village where traditional African cuisine is served.

Also our hospitality is true African. Although we maintain the highest level of professionalism, our service is rendered with African excellence from the heart, applying African protocol.

Spending time at Matsamo is to share quality time with South Africans in a real African environment enjoying the good things of life presented passionately with real South African excellence. The food, the folk music & dance, the atmosphere, all fuse together into a unique experience, African Quality at its best.

This is why our cultural village carries a 4 star grading from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.


The people residing in the various rural villages around Matsamo is predominantly Swazi in custom, tradition and language with a strong Sotho influence and has a well preserved and rich cultural heritage. They are part of the Shongwe clan, once a strong independent group with its own paramount King who in the time of King Mswati II swore allegiance to the Swazi King and helped defend the territory against intruders from the North. As part of the reward for his allegiance and loyalty, Chief Matsamo remained in control of the region as an important Swazi Royalty and absorbed the Sotho clans who lived in the area into his clan. ‘KA HHOHHO’ a folk song, today still frequently sung by the community during festivities, tells the story about the Sotho Clansmen protesting against this Swazi absorption.


Imagine planning to spend a night in a traditional African village. On arrival a friendly South African villager shows you the way to your hut nestled amongst the other huts in the village, only to discover once inside that your hut are very special! It has it all – an ensuite bathroom with separate toilet, hot and cold water and air-conditioning – all tastefully wrapped in real African aesthetics.

Matsamo Village has 14 of these ‘en suite guest hives’ and can accommodate an additional 60 guests in traditional hives using central ablutions.

Each ‘hive’ has it own seclusion where guests can have a private barbeque or just relax in the rural village setting.

Also our hospitality is true African. Although we maintain the highest level of professionalism, our service is rendered with African excellence from the heart, applying African protocol.

strong> Adventure

Whilst Mpumalanga is recognised as the iconic wildlife and bush destination, the wonderful climate and spectacular natural attributes of the province have created the perfect ingredients for adventure. And adventure is not new to Mpumalanga – borne testamony by the legends of wagon trails, battlefields that scar the region and wonderful sites and artifacts of ancient civilisations that dot the landscape. This is frontier country and home of some of the most amazing adventure opportunities you can experience.

Hiking trails criss-cross the mountains and valleys, with woderful, intimate and rustic huts providing accommodtion for weary hikers. And where there is hiking, there is always a trail for mountain biking, with Mpumalanga leading the pack when it comes to mountain bike destinations and events. The Mankele Mountain Bike Park has quickly established itself as one of the premier lifestyle and sporting destinations in South Africa – and worldwide. Want to view the terrain from a better vantage point? Then try a canopy tour over one of the last remaining natural forested valleys along the Sabie River. Or go underground in a unique caving excursion at the world-famous Sudwala Caves.

The plethora of rivers winding their way down to the Indian Ocean provide a variety of kayaking and whitewater opportunities and operators. Petrol-heads can enjoy safe and environmentally friendly quad biking through natural and cultivated forests in Mpumalanga. Mix game with adventure – try a walking safari, horseback safari, elephant back safari – even a mountain bike safari.

At a more sedate pace, the rarified highland of the Dullstroom and Lydenberg region are legend in fly fishing circles, and have become a popular weekend – and holiday – destination for Gautengers – and beyond. Or experience the once-in a lifetime experience of tasking off in a hot air balloon in the crisp-pre-dawn air, and survey the beauty of Mpumalanga – ‘the place where the sun rises’. And our own lake district – Chrissiesmeer – offers spectacular birdwatching for the twitchers.

And if sedate is not your cup of tea, then do we have something for you! Fling yourselves into space from aeroplanes – or from bridges and cliffs. Try a Gorge Swing or fly on a zipline. Or climb those cliffs, with Waterval Boven recognised as one of the top 10 climbing destinations in the world!

Whatever grabs your fancy, whether you are an adventurer, or just plain adventurous, we have got something that will grab your fancy.