Mpumalanga, South Africa - Stein Travel
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Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga, meaning 'land of the rising sun', is a province rich in wildlife, African culture, pioneer history and natural beauty. Situated in the east of the country, north of KwaZulu-Natal, it borders Swaziland and Mozambique and encompasses the southern section of the world-renowned Kruger National Park.

Mpumalanga is 'Big Game Country', and the Lowveld is the setting for dozens of private game reserves and luxury lodges that abound in bird and animal life. Nelspruit is the capital and gateway to the province, situated two hundred miles (325km) east of Johannesburg, and is South Africa's fastest growing city with a vibrant Central Business District. Although not much of a tourist attraction in itself, Nelspruit is situated in the heart of a region rich in natural attractions, which makes it a favourite jumping off point for exploring the Lowveld area. The city's train station and airport welcome travellers several times a day, most of whom are en route to the Kruger National Park, whose southern Malelane Gate is about 40 miles (63km) from Nelspruit.

It is not only those interested in safaris that come to Mpumalanga, however. Besides wonderful opportunities for bird watching and game viewing, the area is also scenically beautiful with its mountains, valleys, waterfalls, canyons and panoramic passes. Mpumalanga's lack of development means more space for its natural finery, which is particularly evident along its scenic meander known as the Panorama Route that takes in spectacular sights along the eastern slopes of the escarpment such as the Blyde River Canyon and God's Window, as well as lesser-known vistas like Bourke's Luck Potholes, Wonder View and the Three Rondavels. The little town of Pilgrim's Rest is a popular attraction for those interested in the history of the 1870s gold rush, while streams that once held the promise of gold are now a haven for trout and fly-fishermen, particularly near the town of Dullstroom. The region is also home to the Ndebele people, famous for their beadwork and uniquely painted houses.

Information & Facts

Climate

Mpumalanga is a summer rainfall area and has a subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The highveld region to the west experiences more extreme temperatures and is hotter in summer, colder in winter and generally drier than the rest of the province. The lowveld, which includes Nelspruit the provincial capital, has hot summer days and warm nights, with warm, sunny days in winter and cold nights.

Language

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.

Money

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.

Time

Local time is GMT +2.

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