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AAlthough Mpumalanga's little farming town of Sabie owes its origins to the 1870s gold rush, today it derives its wealth from the forestry industry.
Sabie sits plumb in the middle of one of the world's largest man-made forests – over 4 million km² of eucalyptus and pine trees.
The huge timber plantations started in a small way with a far-sighted pioneer called Joseph Brook Shires. He saw the indigenous forests destroyed by the demands of the gold rush and in 1876 planted the first commercial trees.
Today the strong straight trunks of these tall trees make ideal pit props for the country's vast mining industry. Check out the Sabie Forestry Museum, which is packed with information about the timber and wood industry.
Sabie's market square is the hub of the surrounding farming community and the centre for the many activities offered in the region. Trips SA, just off the main square, will advise you about fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing, white water rafting, abseiling and bird watching. They will also make reservations for you.
Explore the famous Panorama Route and marvel at the aptly named viewpoint, God's Window, the surreal shapes of Bourke's Luck potholes, the awesome beauty of the Motlatse Canyon (also known as the Blyde River Canyon) and the cluster of lovely Sabie waterfalls.
Also in the market square you'll find the lovely little Anglican church of St Peter's designed by Sir Herbert Baker, who also designed India's government buildings in Delhi and the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Jock of the Bushveld, South Africa’s most famous pooch, is commemorated by a plaque in the square marking the arrival of Percy Fitzpatrick (later Sir Percy) and Jock in 1885.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Mpumalanga Tourism Information
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300/1
Tel: +27(0)13 764 1177
How to get here
Take the N4 north from Johannesburg to Mbombela (Nelspruit) and then follow the Sabie signs
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good, but school holiday months of July, August, December and early January are always crowded with visitors.
Things to do
Visit Pilgrim’s Rest, Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, the Sabie Waterfalls and Kruger National Park.
The MacMac Ultra Marathon, held annually in May, is one of South Africa’s most popular (and demanding) ultra marathons.
What to pack
Summers in Mpumalanga can be hot and humid, so pack your swimming costume, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. Insect repellent is also an essential as in certain areas mosquitoes may be rife due to the moisture levels.
Comfortable walking shoes suitable for climbing and walking.
An umbrella or very light raincoat for the summer rains.
Where to stay
Sabie is a very busy tourist destination, so whatever your choice of accommodation – from backpackers and B&Bs to game lodges and guest houses – be sure to book well in advance.
What to eat
Sabie has many restaurants, coffee shops, pancake bars and fast food outlets, so take your pick.
- Sabie Tourism
- Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
- South African National Parks (SANParks)
- Sabie Forestry Museum
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