The province of Mpumalanga is located in the north eastern region of South Africa. It is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland. The climate and topography vary from cool highveld grasslands through the escarpment to the sub-tropical lowveld plains of the Kruger National Park.
Mpumalanga, means “the place of the rising sun” and includes the escaqrpment areas south of the Blyde River Canyon, the Lowveld areas south of the Olifants River in the Kruger National Park and the eastern Highveld and grassland areas of Wakkerstroom and Chrissiesmeer.
Most areas are easily accessible on your own, although it is highly recommended that you use a community bird guide when going to areas such as Wakkerstroom or Kaapsehoop. By using a community bird guide you will have access to a lot of local knowledge and the haunts of the more unusual birds, thus the chances of seeing specials in an area are certainly much higher.
Mpumalanga boasts a huge variety of threatened, endemic and highly sought after species from Blue Swallow, Rudd’s and Botha’s Lark, Wattled Crane and Southern Bald Ibis to Martial Eagle, Narina Trogon, Bush Blackcap and Orange Ground Thrush.
The Highveld Plateau is dominated by grasslands and is largely devoid of native trees except along some rivers and sheltered hillsides. Extends across eastern Mpumalanga at an altitude of between 1400m and 1800m ASL. In its natural state, this habitat is dominated by Themeda triandra, with many other grass species including Eragrostis, Heteropogon and Cymbopogon.
The Escarpment Foothills is a region of hills, valleys and boulder outcrops, with pockets of forest, thicket and broad-leaved woodlands. Fast flowing rivers and waterfalls are a feature during the wet season. Again, timber and agriculture (including sub-tropical fruit orchards) have transformed much of this landscape.
The Lowveld is a more or less flat savanna of mixed bushveld. Plant communities differ in relation to underlying soil types and average rainfall, with acacia woodland and broad-leaved woodland dominating in places. Sugarcane and citrus orchards occupy much of the area south of the Crocodile River, but most of this region is conserved within the Kruger National Park and adjacent private reserves.
The Kruger National Park covers 19,685km and is the tenth largest game reserve in the world. It has 3000km of road, 23 rest camps and a host of excellent picnic sites, walking trails, 4×4 routes, hides and massive dams. The big game viewing in Kruger rival that of any reserve in Africa with large elephant, buffalo and lion populations being relatively easily seen. Every year over a million visitors tally up in the region of 520 bird species.