( and before) the excitement at Backpackers we enjoyed the sheer
beauty of Mpumalanga (also known as the Lowveld) while driving to Kruger Park from Pretoria and
returning via the Panorama route afterwards.
For me, Mpumalanga - the place where the sun rises - is one of the scenically spectacular parts of South Africa that I always want share with my visitors. Of this 82,000 square kilometers (31,661 square miles) province nearly three quarters is occupied by plateau grasslands of the Highveld and Middleveld and the rest forms the Escarpment where the mountains rise 1 600 metres and more above sea level, spectacular in both their beauty and dimensions. The northern extension of the Drakensberg and runs from a point just beyond Nelspruit to end in the misty forests of the Magoebaskloof near Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province. Unfortunately we only had time to see a small part of this panorama but the beauty did not fail to delight me once more...and I am sure that my guests enjoyed it too...
route from Pretoria took us through the coal mining town of Witbank
the major coal-producing centre of South Africa. Of particular
interest is the fact that Winston Churchill, concealed in an empty
coal truck after he escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp traveled to
a siding near Witbank. Desperately in need of food and shelter he
fortunately knocked on the door of another Englishman and was hidden
first in the underground stables of the mine and then behind some
packing cases in the mine office. A reward of £27 for his capture
"dead or alive" was issued but he was stowed away in
a railway truck loaded with wool consigned to Lorenzo Marques (
Maputo). According to Bulpin "It was a tedious journey. On the
first night the train stopped at Waterval Boven; the next night it
stopped at Komatipoort. At last, late in the afternoon of 21
December, the train reached Lorenzo Marques. After some
argument with the British Consul, the grimy, escapee was identified
as Winston Churchill and a telegram was sent to the mine manager,
Howard, with the news: 'Goods arrived safely'
a token of his thanks Churchill presented inscribed gold watches to
the six men at Witbank who aided his escape."
route to the Lowveld also took us to
the twin villages of Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder (their names
referring to their location “above” and “below” the Elandsriver
We left the main Johannesburg - Maputo National road at Machadodorp
to go via Lydenburg and the Long Tom pass to Sabie.
first settlement of the Voortrekkers was Ohrigstadt, sited
in an unhealthy valley that they abandoned after malaria had taken its
toll and then moved to a kindlier area further to the south. They called
this town Lydenburg which means ”town of suffering”. However, in spite
of the grim reference, this town became the capital of their short-lived
the town is the centre of a prosperous forestry and mixed farming region
and is particularly popular for trout fishing.