Anyone who knows me will tell you I am always first in line at the sight of any adventure travel venture, no matter the stakes. However, I must admit I at first had my doubts about my recent visit to Mpumalanga.
Having received an invitation from the province and tourism department, I packed a backpack full of apprehension, so to speak, thinking: “What happens over there anyway?”
Being just three hours outside Johannesburg, Mpumalanga starts beckoning with luminence.
I was briefed that I am about to enter one of the most adventure-filled destinations there are.
The luscious, green, scenic views stretch all the way to the horizon, while the golden rays of the sun embue Mpumalanga’s hidden gems.
These include two of the country’s best mountain climbing and abseiling tracks – with toboggan mountain rides and breathtaking waterfall sights at your disposal.
If anything, a week of fun in the sun was what the doctor had ordered. Our first destination was a small town in the heart of the province called Dullstroom, under the Emakhazeni municipality.
This intimate destination offers peace and serenity, rich with tradition and heritage.
After we came to terms with having no Wi-Fi at the four-star guesthouse by a lake, we did what anyone would: we set out for some breathtaking views.
The morning brought with it fun adventures just an hour away from a town called Emgwenya, near the famous mountains of Waterval Boven.
Our hosts for the day were a pair of passionate abseilers from Roc ’n Rope Adventures. Having had to hike up the mountain, the biggest challenge was properly checking the knots of the harness, and cross-checking in preparation for the abseil.
I, being the most adventurous of the bunch there, chose to go last, which allowed me the chance to attempt the mission three times before finally achieving my end goal.
With each foot raised and every rock gripped, I was convinced this would be the last thing I did in my life.
But the other half of me played the Mission Impossible soundtrack in my head as a form of encouragement.
With my adrenaline levels permanently abuzz, it was finally time to call it a day. I headed out for the shade of Misty Mountain Lodge, a tantalising dinner and an evening of playing pool and table tennis. Dawn came with a golden glaze.
Having given into my anxieties on what the coming day would have in store, the laughter and sounds of nostalgia lingered at the breakfast tables.
Soon after that it was time for the Long Tom toboggan ride, which exhilarated only a few. Some went for the ride twice, and even managed to capture the thrilling ride on camera.
As the day drew to an end, the bus made a pit stop at a local beer brewery, before we headed for the waterfall in Ehlanzeni.
From a distance the falls’ echo greets one, and you are lured to a majestic sight which to my mind embodied the very existence of God himself.
Surrounded by firm, towering trees, the Lone Creek Falls plummet about 70m to a creek below. Before eventullay leaving for home – because all good things come to an end – we had a celebratory dinner at the Casambo Exclusive Guest Lodge, in Nelspruit.
This is just 45 minutes away from the Swaziland border and an hour and a half from the Maputo border. Our generous hosts, Carol and Lloyde Sambo, opened their hearts and their four-star lodge.
This was our last stop and our last dinner together. The spacious cosmopolitan interior rooms give off a modern city hotel feel and contrasts in a striking way with the exotic greenery which surrounds the lodge.
The night was given to poetry and song, and the morning came with it usual sunny skies. I was filled with satisfaction and mellow emotions.
But yet again, the end was not yet. Our awesome tour guides from Simeliza Tours had planned a lunch just outside the Swaziland border at the Matsamo Cultural Village.
There we we were taught about the Swazi culture and traditions and treated to tribal song and dance. Not for nothing is Mpumalanga called the province of the rising sun. Rise up and go there.