Exploring Mpumalanga Beyond The Panorama Route

Exploring the Panorama Route and the Kruger National Park are usually high on the bucket list for travellers visiting Mpumalanga province. While these two must-see destinations are amongst the best the province has to offer, there is so much more to experience beyond the Panorama Route.

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) recently launched its festive season campaign which will run until the end of January 2022. The aim of this drive, according to Mr Johannes Nobunga, MTPA CEO, is to affirm that Mpumalanga is a safe travel destination amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this launch, I was amongst a group of journalists invited to a three-day tour of Hazyview where we experienced some of the adventure activities the area has on offer.

Although I love travelling and the new experiences that I embrace, actively seeking out adventure has never been a priority. Basically, if I am to wear a helmet on holiday, it’s not happening. But, knowing what a beautiful place Hazyview is, I kept an open mind and made sure to pack comfortable shoes.

For the first night we checked into the stunning Sanibonani Resort that offers all the comforts you’d expect as well as an inviting swimming pool and lush gardens. This was followed by a trip to the Shabalala Cultural Interpretation Centre where we delved into a dramatic interpretation of authentic siSwati culture and indulged in umqombothi and traditional siSwati food cooked over an open fire.

Being in the Lowveld, Hazyview has some of the most pleasant weather conditions in the province. Spring is characterized by cool mornings which quickly roll into hot afternoons often accompanied by a gentle breeze that makes way for warm evenings.

The second day was jam-packed with thrilling activities which kicked off with a visit to Elephant Whispers for an intimate encounter with these gentle giants. The five elephants at the facility were rescued from culling due to overpopulation and now form part of an educational display that sheds light on the lives of elephants. Watching these animals shred large portions of food in a short space of time serves as a reminder of their strength and that it is in fact the elephant that has allowed us to be in its presence. The majesty and grace of these beasts effortlessly commands respect.

I’m not entirely sure whether I was excited or nervous about our visit to Lowveld Extreme Adventures but the friendly staff and the cosmopolitan energy of the place quickly quelled all my adventure anxiety.  This facility offers quad biking, river rafting, paintballing and a host of other activities that will enthral even the most reluctant adventurer.

The last night of our tour was spent at one of my favourite hotels in the Lowveld, the picturesque Hippo Hollow Country Estate which lies on the banks of the Sabie River. From the comfort of the restaurant or river chalets, guests at this hotel can often watch hippos and the elephants from Elephant Whispers come down to the river or frolic in the natural vegetation.

The night didn’t end before we took a trip to MK Car Wash in Mkhuhlu for shisanayama and an experience of the night life this part of Hazyview offers.

Thoroughly exhausted from all the activities, the last stop of our tour took us to Bushbuckridge for water tubing with Siyavaya Adventures. Unfortunately, the activity was eventually cancelled but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the small waves crashing on the banks of the Inyaka Dam.

Across the globe, the tourism industry has taken a violent beating from the effects of COVID-19 but this industry has also demonstrated its resilience and has through innovation, reinvented itself to cater to domestic markets.

With South Africans continuing to vaccinate against COVID-19, low travel restrictions, tempting travel specials and near perfect weather, now is the time to come out and explore destination Mpumalanga. Wotani. Sinlindzile.

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