Mpumalanga(name changed from Eastern Transvaal on 24 August 1995), is a province of South Africa. The name means east or literally "the place where the sun rises" in Swazi, Xhosa, Ndebele and Zulu. Mpumalanga lies in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. It constitutes 6.5% of South Africa's land area. In the north it borders on Limpopo, to the west Gauteng, to the southwest the Free State and to the south KwaZulu-Natal. The capital is Nelspruit (recently renamed to Mbombela). Prior to 1994, Mpumalanga was part of Transvaal Province.
The Drakensberg Escarpment divides Mpumalanga into a westerly half consisting mainly of high-altitude grassland called the Highveld and an eastern half situated in low altitude subtropical Lowveld/Bushveld, mostly savanna habitat. The southern half of the Kruger National Park is situated in the latter region. The Drakensberg exceeds heights of 2000m in most places with this central region of Mpumalanga being very mountainous. These regions have alpine grasslands and small pockets of Afromontane Forest. The Lowveld is relatively flat with interspersed rocky outcrops. The Lebombo Mountains form a low range in the far east forming the border with Mozambique.
Some of the oldest rocks on earth are to be found in the Barberton area and these ancient greenstones and metamorphosed granites form the Crocodile River Mountains in the south-east of the province. The Lowveld is underlaid by African Cratonic Basement rocks of ages in excess of 2 billion years. The Highveld is mostly Karoo Sequence sedimentary rocks of a younger, Carboniferous to Permian age.
- Gaza Province, Mozambique – northeast
- Maputo Province, Mozambique – east
- Lubombo District, Swaziland – east, southwest of Maputo Province
- Hhohho District, Swaziland – east, northwest of Lubombo
- Manzini District, Swaziland – east, south of Hhohho
Mpumalanga is the only province of South Africa to border two provinces of Mozambique or to border all four districts of Swaziland.
The Lowveld is subtropical, due to its proximity to the warm Indian Ocean and latitude. The Highveld is comparatively much cooler, due to its altitude of 2300m to 1700m above sea level. The Drakensberg Escarpment receives the most precipitation, with all other areas being moderately well-watered by mostly summer thunderstorms. The Highveld often experiences severe frost, whilst the Lowveld is mostly frost-free. Winter rainfall is rare, except for some drizzle on the escarpment. The differences in climate are demonstrated below by the capital, Nelspruit, which is in the Lowveld, located just an hour from Belfast on the Highveld.
- Nelspruit averages: January maximum: 29 °C (min: 19 °C), July maximum: 23 °C (min: 6 °C), annual precipitation: 767 mm
- Belfast averages: January maximum: 23 °C (min: 12 °C), June maximum: 15 °C (min: 1 °C), annual precipitation: 878 mm
The diverse and special flora and fauna of the province enjoys protection in a range of nature reserves, including:
Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, previously known as Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park. This international game park brings together some of the best and most established wildlife areas in southern Africa. The park is managed as an integrated unit across an unprecedented three international boundaries which includes the Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe).
Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve
Sabi-Sand Game Reserve, which is built up of numerous private reserves: Idube Safari Lodge, Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge, Djuma Game Reserve, Exeter Game Lodge, Inyati Private Game Reserve, Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, Londolozi Game Reserve, Mala Mala Game Reserve, Savanna Private Game Reserve and Ulusaba Game Lodge.
Mpumalanga Travel Guide / Formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal, Mpumalanga is one of South Africa's top tourist destinations. 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.
Aptly know as "Paradise Country", few regions in the world can match the extraordinary beauty of the Mpumalanga Lowveld and escarpment. 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. Among them, the Kruger National Park is world renowned, as are several of the luxurious private reserves on its western boundary. 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. Barberton and Pilgrim's Rest are among the most famous. A special, additional dimension occurs in the Middleveld region which is inhabited by Ndebele people, notable for their traditional costumes and attractively decorated houses.
Just beyond Sabie, the Mac Mac Falls are worth stopping for; and you can treat yourself to a swim in the crystal-clear pools. A small detour leads to Pilgrim's Rest; a fascinating historic town, well worth exploring before continuing to Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve. In the reserve, you can feast your eyes on the Blyde River Canyon and the rich bird life. At the southern tip of the reserve, the view from God's Window stretches to eternity across the Lowveld. From there, it's a short and easy drive to some of the finest private game reserves in the country and Orpen Gate to the Kruger National Park.