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Tourist Attractions in the Eastern Transvaal

Updated on October 3, 2014
Tashaonthetown profile image

Natasha Pelati has published three books of poetry and writes on real-life experiences with the help of psychology.


Kruger National Park

This is a must see if you want to spot the "Big 5" and you need to prepare to spend the entire day here. Animals are easily sighted if you have patience and good eyesight. You can drive in with your own car but just remember that you are not allowed to get out of your car or open your windows as you are entering a place with wild animals and lions, leopards, elephants, rhino are not tame!

Directions from Johannesburg:

It takes 6 hours and 44 minutes. 551.9km

Follow the N4 to Nelspruit and look out for the signage to take you there.

Directions from Durban:

It is 922km. About 9 hours and 30 minutes.

From Durban take the highway to Pongola and from there you go to Nelspruit, Komatiepoort and then to Malelane.

This is the best route for good roads and make certain that you have a map handy!

A good idea would be to go to the Malelane Gate and either stay in a guest house or you can stay in a camp in the actual park but for a cheaper option Selati is a good place to stay and it's 2km from the Malelane Gate of the Kruger Park.

Entrance Fee: If you are a South African with an identity document it is R50 per adult over 12 years and R25 per child. You have to fill out a form and if you plan to go again then ask about the Wild card which gives you discounted rates on entry.

There is a place to eat and buy souveniers once you are inside the park. The prices of the food is reasonably cheap and it is a good experience but make sure you have water in your car because getting lost can be easy here.

The gate opens at 6am and closes at 17h30. It takes about 3hours to drive from one side to the other so ensure that you have enough time to drive back to the gate before it closes.

It is so beautiful and incredible to see all these animals and if you look carefully you will definitely get to see the "Big 5". You can also go on a game drive with a ranger who will take you off road to spot all the animals and should you choose to go by car just be reminded to stay in your vehicle and if you do not have an off road car then stay off the sand roads.

To see the giraffe go off the road when the sign shows you rinosterpad and it will take you 2km down to a waterhole where the giraffe is waiting to pose for you! Always keep your eyes open because while you are looking at a rhino or elephant on side there could be a group of them wanting to charge your car on the other. Be aware of the fact that these animals feel threatened with you there and they will defend their young.

The first car was bought for the bank manager's wife just after the sinking of the Titanic.
The first car was bought for the bank manager's wife just after the sinking of the Titanic.
Petrol Station
Petrol Station
Victorian Cottage - The Royal Hotel
Victorian Cottage - The Royal Hotel
Mining in Pilgrim's Rest
Mining in Pilgrim's Rest
Gold Museum
Gold Museum
sluice - box
sluice - box

Pilgrim's Rest

The Eastern Transvaal is really beautiful and there is so much to see and do here but a very interesting place to stop is at Pilgrim's Rest.

The first gold rush in South Africa took place in 1873 when gold was discovered near the town of Sabie on the Mpumalanga escarpment. President Burger named the camp "MacMac." One of the diggers Alec "Wheelbarrow" Patterson left the area and found rich gold deposits in the Pilgrim's Creek.

Pilgrim'd Rest was declared a gold field in 1873. The gold commissioner moved his office and by the end of the year there were 1500 diggers working 4000 claims in and around the area.

Gold was recovered by sluice-boxes and cradles and an estimated R2million worth of gold was mined within the first seven years.

Pilgrim's Rest was the social and commercial centre of the diggings and by 1896 many of the tents were replaced by more permanent buildings but by 1972 the last mine ceased operations due to periodic floods and unstable ground.

The town is still there today and has become a National monument and a living museum.

All the buildings are exactly the way that they were in the 1800's and you can stay at the Royal Hotel and go digging for gold too.

The Royal Hotel

Situated in the heart of Pilgrim's Rest and every room is exactly the way it was in the 1800's except it now has hot water and electricity. The public house is still there and that is where you can have your breakfast but don't expect it to be 5 star. There is a pub there too and it is a tradition to have a beer there when you get to Pilgrim's Rest. Castle Lager is the brand of choice.

The rooms are R385 per person and children under 12 are half price, including breakfast.

If there is no availability in the main hotel you get to spend the night in an old Victorian house that the hotel has annexed and it has two bedrooms, bathroom, toilet and some even have a lounge. The bath is old and the floors are wooden with the four post beds that creek at night.

This is definitely a must see and there is an information centre that will show you what tours to do. You can even go on the ghost tour!

Pilgrim's Rest is a peaceful town and it feels as if you are stuck in the 1800's. You can have a photo taken where you get to dress up in the olden day clothing.

Take a look at the diggers museum, the old print house, war memorial, historic cemetery and the many little quaint general dealers. The old car's are also on display and you can even go for a donkey cart ride.

Pilgrims rest, Mpumalanga:
Pilgrims Rest, South Africa

get directions

God's Window - Grasskop

This is on the Long Tom pass or Panorama Route and it is so beautiful. It is situated on the Drakensberg escarpment in Mpumalanga. The view from the top is amazing but be prepared to walk uphill. There is a rainforest that you walk through and on a clear day you can see eveything from up here. There is a fee of R10 per person to get in but once you are up there you will understand why it is called God's Window.

Accommodation in the area ranges from about R300 to R800 per person but you can find cheap accommodation.

24° 55' 55.8876" S Graskop Hotel
30° 50' 26.8764" E

The majestic cliffs plunge down over 700 metres to the lowveld and game reserves.  On a clear day you can see Mozambique
The majestic cliffs plunge down over 700 metres to the lowveld and game reserves. On a clear day you can see Mozambique
Berlin Falls
Berlin Falls
Lisbon Falls
Lisbon Falls
Mac Mac Pools
Mac Mac Pools

Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls and Mac Mac Pools

These locations are all a part of the Long Tom Pass and the Panoramic Route in Mpumalanga. Berlin Falls costs R5 per car, Lisbon Falls R5 per car and Mac Mac Pools cost R10 per person.

There is an amazing view from the falls and a very steap drop where you can stand at the edge to take photo's but be careful of the wind because it might blow you off the cliff!

The Mac Mac Pools are very cold but you can swim there and it is fresh fountain water but don't drink it because it is not filtered yet!

mac mac pools:
Mac Mac Pools, Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, South Africa

get directions

Lisbon Falls mpumalanga:
Lisbon Falls, South Africa

get directions

Berlin falls mpumalanga:
Berlin Falls, South Africa

get directions

Bourkes Luck Potholes
Bourkes Luck Potholes
View from the metal bridge
View from the metal bridge

Bourkes Luck Potholes

This is also situated in Mpumalanga and it costs R25 per person to get in. It closes at 17h00 and there is a bit of a walk to get there but it is worth it.

The potholes are a result of decades eddies of swirling water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River which has caused extensive water erosion over time. The result is cylindrical rock sculptures in various colours and it is named Bourkes Luck because a gold digger Tom Burke, staked a claim nearby.

There is a series of metal bridges that take you directly to the potholes and you can stand over them.

Bourkes luck potholes mpumalanga:
Bourke's Luck Potholes, Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, South Africa

get directions

3 Rondawels
3 Rondawels
Blyde River Canyon View from the top
Blyde River Canyon View from the top

Blyde River Canyon and 3 Rondawels

The Blyde River Canyon extends along the Blyde River's winding path with impressive views and sheer drops of 800m into the river bed.

The panoramic views are over the Klein Drakensberg escarpment. From here you can view the 3 rondawels or (3 sisters) which are three huge spirals of dolomite rock rising out of the far wall of the canyon. It is absolutely breathtaking and there is also an entrance fee per car for this but the gate closes at 17h00. The drop can be frightening and there is no railing to keep you safe in certain parts but the view cannot be explained by photos or in text. This you have to experience for yourself as the unimaginable beauty and the feling you get from standing at the top is out of this world.

blyde river canyon:
Blyde River Canyon, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, So

get directions

Inside the Cave
Inside the Cave

Sudwala Caves

Situated 35km before Nelspruit on the N4 turn off on the R539 (Sabie)

The caves were used as a shelter by prehistoric man and in the 19th Century was used by the Somquba, the brother of the Swazi heir apparent, as a fortress. It is also said that Paul Kruger hid his gold coins in these caves but they have never been found.

To get up to the Sudwala caves you have to drive 2 km and then walk up very steep steps to get to the caves.

The entrance fee is R80 per adult and R40 per child. It closes at 17hoo and you can do one of two tours with a guide.

The first tour is about an hour long and a guide will show you the rock formations and allows you to take pictures with a historic tour of what the caves were used for and what the rocks are and how they are formed. It is 17degrees in the cave and in some parts a little slippery but safe to do.

The other tour is the crystal tour and you have to be fit but if you are clausterphobic in any way than avoid this one as you have to crawl through tunnels in the dark. This tour is approximately 3 hours long and not for the faint hearted.

It is fascinating to see that the rocks are still forming in the cave and an occasional bat can also be seen too.

Some of the rock formations grow two centimetres every hundred years and there are some really big ones in the cave.

Next door to the caves is a dinosaur park which is also a must see.

sudwala caves:
Sudwala Caves and Dinosaur Park, Nelspruit 1201, South Africa

get directions

Accomodation in Eastern Transvaal

Crystal Springs - situated above Pilgrim's Rest. Self Catering thatched lodges. Sleeps 2,4,6 or 8 people.

Settlers Village - Grasskop.

Sabie River Sun - For a relaxed and family orientated hotel experience. R1780 per room

© 2013 Natasha Pelati


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    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      Wow that's fantastic! I am sure you will enjoy it and have fun!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Beautiful place indeed i can't wait to explore it this weekend!!!!!


    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Hi! Yes it's a beautiful country and there have been many, many changes!

      Thanks for reading!

    • shofarcall profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello fellow South Africans,

      Long time since I have been to that part of the country too. I knew it well in the 70's - have heard there have been changes. Of course there have - that was 40 years ago!! Great hub! Great pictures.

    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      You must definitely do it! It is so beautiful, peaceful and what an experience!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Oh, beautiful Eastern Transvaal! I hope to go there before the end of the year. I haven't seen that beautiful part of our country in decades.

      Great hub, voted up and shared!


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