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Mpumalanga
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Small town charm

TThe Highveld Heritage Route will take you on a fascinating journey packed with culture, history, wildlife, mystery and relaxation. 

The 14 towns along the route all played an important part in South Africa’s history and are an integral part of its heritage. The towns also showcase the province’s landscapes and natural attractions, from the Bakoni settlement ruins, geological rock formations and San rock art to South African War (also known as the Second Anglo-Boer War) battle fields and farmlands. At the centre of the route is the little town of Ermelo in southeast Mpumalanga.  

In the Batwa Valley, its giant mushroom rock, early tools, soot-blackened cave walls and rock art speak poignantly of a San people called the Tlou E'Tie who once lived here before the assegais of the warring Nguni tribes drove them out. 

Fast forward to the South African War and the 1901 Battle of Chrissiesmeer, where Boers and Brits fought and fell. Boers who didn't support the cause were known as 'joiners' or 'henshoppers', and when you visit the town cemetery you'll find them buried side by side with their fellow countrymen. With one big difference – their graves (along with the British graves) – face the opposite direction. 

Enjoy the little town of Chrissiesmeer and its beautiful old sandstone houses before taking in some of the other attractions of the Highveld Heritage Route. Take a township tour to Wesselton where you'll get a warm welcome from the vibrant community before slaking your thirst at a local shebeen. 

Then pop into Ebutseni, a traditional Swazi village at Oshoek, close to the South African-Swaziland border. Or go wild in the Nkomazi Game Reserve and Songimvelo Nature Reserve.  You might fancy a dip in the hot mineral springs at Badplaas or choose the tranquillity of the Matotoland lake district where 270 lakes shimmer like jewels among lush grass and wetlands. Birding is superb here. 

Finally, add some mystery to your Highveld heritage tour by visiting the ghost village of Bonnefoi with its deserted mansion, silent post office and derelict hotel. Or marvel at the hand-built stone circles, estimated to have been built thousands of years ago. But built by whom? Nobody yet knows the answer. 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & planning  info 

Who to contact 

Highveld Visitor Centre 
Tel: +27 (0)17 819 4707/9 

How to get here  

The Highveld Heritage Route starts in Ermelo, situated in southeast Mpumalanga where the N2 meets the N17 and N11, 154km from Mbombela (Nelspruit). 

Best time to visit  

September is a lovely month to visit as the spring flowers are in full bloom. 

Things to do 

Visit the mineral springs of Badplaas, as well as the wetland of the Matotoland Lake District, consisting of two large freshwater lakes and 230 pans. 

What to pack  

Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, binoculars, camera and a sense of wonder. 

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