In the minds of many, Mpumalanga is synonymous with game parks and the big five. But in reality a road trip through this province of wide horizons and dramatic scenery is about so much more than a trip to the Kruger. If you love the great outdoors, crisp mountain air and views to forever take the R540 off the N4 at Belfast and start you trip by heading into the trout triangle at the foot of the Steenkampsberg.
The quaint town of Dullstroom has much to offer both the fly-fisherman and the country traveller – a snippet of the life-style of yesteryear where the pace is slow, the pubs are numerous and the fish are jumping’. Using Dullstroom as a base for accommodation one can plan a day trip leaving the next morning and heading north to see the spectacular scenery for which this area is famed. As one winds over the Vermont Pass down to Lydenburg the scenery is picture perfect and in Lydenburg a stop at the well-kept museum tantalises the imagination with the unusual iron-age Lydenburg Heads – 7 earthenware masks whose origins could be African, Indian or even Mayan.
Winding through the Long Tom Pass one feels on top of the world – literally! A replica of the Long Tom cannon used in the Boer War rests at the apex of the Pass and forested mountain slopes and waterfalls abound all the way down to Sabi. Heading north on the R532 there is much to see. Numerous waterfalls such as Mac Mac Falls, Forest Falls and Lisbon Falls line the route and a short detour takes the visitor to Pilgrim’s Rest, a mining town frozen in time. There are spectacular views from The Pinnacle, Gods Window and Wonderview. Bourke’s Luck Potholes are an amazing phenomenon and in the area of the Blyde River Canyon the majesty of the Three Rondavels presides over all.
If one wants to head for Hoedspruit and on to the Orpen Gate into the Kruger Park one would continue north on the R36,taking in breathtaking mountain scenery and going through the Strydom Tunnel. Hawkers sell their curio wares and local fruit and veg from stalls perched on the edge of cliffs and are worth a stop for a purchase – the dramatic views come free of charge! For those doing a day trip from Dullstroom the R36 heading south to Lydenburg winds through mountains and valleys, passing through the small town of Orighstad before reaching Lydenburg where the R540 takes one on to Dullstroom.