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Mpumalanga is a province in South Africa, located in the central east of the country. Although most of the province is looked over by travellers, the east of the province is home to two major attractions: The Blyde River Canyon and the (southern portion of) Kruger National Park, attracting visitors from all over the world to see the Big 5.
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 in the latter region. The Drakensberg exceeds heights of 2000 metres 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 southeast 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.
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The Blyde River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 25 kilometres in length and is, on average, around 750 metres deep. The Blyderivierpoort Dam, when full, is at an altitude of 665 metres. The canyon consists mostly of red sandstone. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1,944 metres above sea level, whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 metres above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is 1,383 metres deep. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest 'green canyon' due to its lush subtropical foliage.
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This park is the largest of all of South Africa's game parks with around 19,000 square kilometers to explore. The park is located in the northeast of the country in both the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, at the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Recently the park has become part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace-park consisting of Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) and Limpopo National Park (Mozambique). It is the most visited of all national parks in South Africa and can become very busy during the South African holiday periods. Also, some of the roads are tarred, which makes this park one of the best to visit when you just have a small 2wd vehicle. More about Kruger NP or visit the official Kruger Park website.
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 1,700 to 2,300 metres 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.
Shosholoza Meyl has the following train:
For most tourist destinations in Mpumalanga, follow the N4 toll road from Pretoria. The road is in very good condition. Alternatively, follow the N12 from southern Johannesburg, it will join the N4 at Witbank.
If you are heading to the southern parts of Mpumalanga, follow the N17 from Johannesburg.
If you would like to travel around by car, there are numerous car rental companies available from the airports and downtown locations. Just make sure that you have sufficient insurance to cover you if the need arises. Some of them offer the possibility to reduce excess (the amount you pay when involved in an accident) for a daily fee. Car hire companies include Avis, Imperial, CABS, First Car Rental as well as many other international and local ones. Usually, the local ones are cheaper but don't have the same standard as the international ones, which have more branches throughout the country and therefore are able to help you more quickly if needed.
If travelling by car, be sure to plan your routes carefully to insure that there are sufficient places to fill the tank with petrol as some towns are located quite a distance apart with no filling stations in between. It's a good idea to fill up with fuel when you have about half a tank left if possible.
|Havana Nights||10 RICHARDSON ST Graskop||Guesthouse||-|
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