The Mpumalanga province is home to the world’s most famous game reserve, its third-deepest canyon, ancient caves, and a fascinating gold-rush history.

Mpumalanga means 'the place where the sun rises', and while it may be among South Africa's smallest provinces, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in spectacular natural diversity.

Not only is Mpumalanga home to the world's most famous game park, the world's third-deepest canyon and the world's oldest cave system, the region is also dotted with numerous game reserves teeming with flora and fauna.

Four billion years ago Antarctica and Madagascar separated from Mpumalanga's Blyde River Canyon, leaving behind a spectacular and beautiful landscape, which rises towards the north-eastern mountains, ending in a massive escarpment that drops steeply to the lowveld below.

Historical influence is evident in Mpumalanga, from the legendary King Solomon and Queen Sheba to the ancient floating villages of Chrissiesmeer.

Rock art by Africa's early peoples, the San and Khoisan, abound while evidence of the gold rush of the 1870s, captured for posterity in the historical town of Pilgrim's Rest, can be found everywhere.

The region's twisting mountain passes, steep valleys, rivers and pristine forests have given rise to alluring natural phenomena, including the 3 000-million-year-old Sudwala Caves, Bourke's Luck Potholes, God's Window, Wonder View and the Three Rondavels.

Fluff out your tail feathers with some magnificent bird watching, hiking, horse riding and trout fishing, or go wild with an elephant-back safari, white-water rafting trip or waterfall abseil.

Wildlife is on everyone's lips in Mpumalanga, with South Africa's flagship Kruger National Park one of the world's largest wildlife reserves boasting an impressive and unsurpassed array of indigenous species taking pride of place.

However, for the intimacy of a more private game experience, opt for one of countless upmarket game reserves, or combine a classic wildlife experience with a little pampering by trying a safari-and-spa option.

How to get there:

Mpumalanga has air and rail links to all of South Africa's main cities. It is also easily reached by road from neighbouring provinces. 

Hire a car or take an organised tour.

Best time to visit:

Summer is hot, winters mild to cold. For game viewing, winter is best, though spring brings colour and is the birthing season for most wildlife in the region.

Where to stay:

The region offers a full range of accomodation from backpackers and B&B's to hotels and guest houses.

What to eat:

Enjoy traditional South African cuisine.

What's happening:

Photographic opportunities second to none, including but not limited to: Bourke's Luck Potholes; God's Window; Three Rondavels and the Blyde River Canyon. 

A guided tour of the Sudwala Caves is a treat, as is a historical tour of the quaint gold rush town of Pilgrim's Rest.

Who to contact:

Mpumalanga Tourism Parks Agency Tel: +27 (0) 13 759 5300/01 Fax: +27 (0) 13 755 3928 Email: info@mtpa.co.za South African National Parks Central Reservations Tel: +27 (0) 12 428 9111

Mobile: +27 (0) 82 233 9111

Email: reservations@sanparks.org