Magical Mpumalanga Shotleft
I love travel and I can not lie ! So when the team from Shotleft asked me to join their #GimmeSummerShotleft campaign to Mpumalanga I said YES ! Having never visited this province I was keen to explore but also to be on the road again.I made a promise to myself to explore all nine provinces in South Africa and visiting Mpumalanga would defo be a tick.
My journey started with an early morning flight to Johanessburg on Airlink and then a flight to Kruger National Park.The 2nd flight was only 40minutes but on a much smaller plan.Before I knew it had arrived at the rather small airport which looked like a big house with a thatched roof.I was kind of worried about my luggage arriving as I had booked it direct to my destination.Once I saw my pink suitcase a huge sigh of relief ,we headed off to meet Mbombela Experiences who were our tour operators for the next few days.I was really not prepared for the heat and let me tell you I drank probably 20litres of water in those four days all bottled.
From the airport we headed to Nut Grove Manor ,the Boutique Hotel that we were staying overnight at.The property is quaint surrounded by several garden areas,a play area ,outdoor eating area and pool area.Check in was very efficient with the well organised staff especially as we were a large group.Our luggage was tagged and taken to our rooms.When I say room it is was more like a standalone house/suite.Each unit has a large kingsize bed with fans and aircons.There is a living room area with a couch and a large screen TV ,on the patio is a garden set should you wish to read outside.We literally had an hour to freshen up before our activities started.
We headed off to Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre ,now I was not really sure why we were going to a shopping centre and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.Housed in the centre is a Motor Museum which houses a large selection of cars and bikes from years gone by in immaculate condition.Now this was rather impressive and a nice little surprise.The centre has a variety of craft shops ,a craft museum ,places to eat and a Gin Shop.Lunch was at Magnolia’s large portions of fuss free food with a delicious range of cocktails and mocktails.And by this time we were all hungry and thirsty.After lunch we walked through the centre to find the cutest Gin shop ever.
Gin & Co is a great spot to sample locally distelled gin and even get to see behind the scenes.The stores looks like it belongs in the middle of the English Country side.Besides Gin you will find a variety of Gin associated products for you to buy.The store is well known for it’s Gin Cocktails but for me the Gin Slushies were the winner.I mean imagine like proper slushies but Gin flavoured with fresh Orange juice now this is the perfect cooler for South African summers.
We then headed off for a sunset experience through the very scenic Hazyview to the Shabalala Cultural Centre.Here we were warmly welcomed by the locals and asked to adorn ourselves in traditional attire before entering the village.We were helped to drape the fabrics around us and cover up our hair.One of the main things when travelling is to respect the culture of the local people.A large group of local youth entertained us with song and dance from the various tribes in South Africa ,their skills and energy was next level.As is customary in every African village a meal is served to guests which included local specialities which included pap ,spinach ,kudu stew and sausages and several more dishes.I was still so full from lunch so not to offend my guests I dished a very small portion.
The drive back to our hotel was so fab as we had car karoke and we sang along to the Spotify list of classic SA music from days gone by.Totally shattered considering I was on the road from 4:30am that morning all I craved was a hot shower ,an ice cold bottle of water and my bed.And before I knew it ,it was time to get up ,pack up ,create some content ,have breakfast and get started with Day 2 in Magical Mpumalanga.
Day 2 was all about taking in the Magic of Mother Nature in Mpumalanga.The province is well known as a Nature Lover’s Paradise and rightfully so as it has so many natural attractions that leave you mindblow.Commonly nicknamed the Panaromic Route ,Mpumalanga is home to several waterfalls ,Blyde River Canyon ,Three Rondavels ,Mac Mac Falls, Bourkes Luck Potholes and God’s Window.When exploring these places ensure you are wearing proper walking shoes ,carry a hat and stay hydrated.This places can get rather busy with tourists both local and international so be mindful of others.
Next stop of the day was to Graskop Gorge Lift.Now this spot is for the adrenalin lovers but there is an alternative for people like me.The three activities on offer include ziplining ,the Big Swing and a lift that takes you 50m into a forest trail.Let me tell you the forest trail was so magical and calming felt like I was in the Amazon jungle listening to animal sounds the waterfall.It was such a relaxing experience and there are several trails to explore each sign posted and yes there is even a suspension bridge to cross.There is also a local arts and craft market on the site with loads of really cute African themed items.
Lunch at Graskop has two cafes on site Lift and Swing Cafe each has a unique menu.We ate lunch at Lift Cafe.The menu is fairly varied with something for everyone.I opted for Lamb Chops and they were delish like literally braaied to perfection with the charred bits.Everyone enjoyed the meals and yes there are plug points for charging.There is are indoor and outdoor eating areas.
Tummies full we headed off to Kruger National Park which would be our home for the next two nights.Now this made me super happy as I instantly knew it would not be an early morning like the last two days.We had to enter the park before 6:30pm before the gates closed for the night so it was a rush against the clock.Besides exploring Mpumalanga I got to meet some really incredible media folk and we all just bonded so it felt like we were travelling like a family.
I was rather excited about Kruger National Park as it was my first time here.We were staying at Mdluli Safari Lodge and let me tell you it was amazing.The lodge is 4 star and situated within the Kruger National park.Accomodation is no ordinary room but a Luxury Tented Suite this is glamping on another level.Each unit is raised above ground on a wooden platform ,it has an aircon ,fan ,two showers ( indoor and outdoor ),hot and cold water,a bar fridge, a desk ,a lounge area and an outdoor seating area.This was literally an African dream ,the one every tourist speaks about.
The next day was more relaxed with breakfast at leisure followed by a massage.This was much needed and the therapists are so well trained.Treatments are done in your room or should I say your tent.Our afternoon activity included a sunset game drive followed by a Bush Braai.The Kruger National Park is slightly larger in size than Qatar ,Fiji ,Kuwait and Cyprus imagine that a game park that is so huge and overlaps in the next province.Our game driver was very well learned about the park ,flora and fauna.We spotted giraffes ,elephants ,some species of bucks and more elephants.As the park is so huge you would need several hours to spot the Big 5.It was incredible to be out in the bush again and I just loved every moment.
We headed off to toast the African Sunset at a private spot owned by Mdluli Lodge which overlooked a lake which had a few hippos casually lazying about.The team from Mdluli set up a gorgeous dinner experience for us which included a long dinner table ,a bar , a fire place ,a buffet table.Chef was on hand to braai us lamb chops ,sausages,sosasties all cooked to perfection and so tasty.Along side our braaied meat we had pap ,chakalaka ,beetroot salad ,steamed bread,corn on the cob,chakalaka and jacket potatoes such an amazing end to my Mpumalanga experience.
Mpumalanga is a beautiful province with incredible people ,delicious food and so much to do.You can fly in with Airlink or self drive into the province which is roughly five hours away from Johannesburg.Make sure you pack mosquito repellant,sunblock ,sensible walking shoes ,sunhat and a light jacket.This holiday become a local traveller explore your province and put it on your to do list to visit all nine provinces.It is time to take a Shotleft.