Found on the edge of the escarpment, Emgwenya or Waterval Boven is a fly-fishing and climbing destination. This world class, quality, climbing spot is suitable for any grade; there are even a few trad routes lurking between those sport climbs. It has a friendly and active local climbing community. Routes have been opened by well-known local and international climbers. It’s also becoming a highlight on the must-visit lists of international climbers such as Paige Claassen, Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Honnold’s. With over 850 climbs to choose from you are sure to find something to make you happy at what is also known as The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Crags.
‘The land of the rising sun’ is a place of game, adventure and rich history. It’s also geographically the most diverse in the country! Follow the Panorama Route for a brilliant way to explore this province - the route is scenic, steeped in South African history and centred around the world’s third largest canyon, the Blyde River Canyon.
The Blyde River Canyon is the only green canyon in the world and considered one of the natural wonders of Southern Africa. At 26 kilometres long and 762 metres deep, with a dammed wall of 72 metres high, this is the third largest canyon in the world! Of course, it’s pretty spectacular from the top, but when you get up close and personal, this river and canyon are just epic! Kloofing involves climbing cliffs, scrambling down water courses and jumping into crystal-clear pools. It’s incredible full on involvement and makes for the best memories and day out ever if you have good non-slip trail/water shoes that is, otherwise it makes bruises – a lot of bruises.
If jumping off cliffs isn’t really your thing then you can try the eight kilometres of Class Three to Four white water rapids on the upper Blyde River. Here you navigate steep drops and long rapids in two-man crocs while under the watchful eyes of qualified guides, when you aren’t navigating your croc take the time to look up at the Three Rondavels and make sure your kit is tied to yourself or the boat because once it’s overboard, it’s gone! If abseiling is your thing, then you have 72 metres to hum the 007 theme music too as you gracefully skip down the dam wall. Want something a touch more sedate? Try quad biking, hiking, hot air ballooning, a sunset cruise, mountain biking or take a microlight for a spin.
What you might not know is that Mashishing or Lydenburg has the earliest known forms of African sculpture in Southern Africa displayed in their local museum, they date back to between 500 and 800 AD. There are seven of these hollow terracotta sculptures, six are human and one is an animal replica, called the Lydenburg Heads. They were found in the Sterkspruit Valley in the ‘50s and are believed to be ceremonial and used during initiation rituals.
Some more historical fun while you’re grabbing lunch (all on the same block): The thatched house on the corner of Church and Kantoor Streets, typical of pioneer architecture dates back to 1845 and is probably the oldest school building in the old Transvaal. The old Voortrekker Church in Church Street erected between 1851 and 1853 is the oldest Dutch Reformed Church in the old Transvaal. The older Neo-Gothic style church was consecrated in 1894. The old red ZAR Post-Box in Kantoor Street was manufactured in 1893 and is one of the earliest examples of pillar post boxes that were ordered specially from the Netherlands.
Some of us were lucky enough to have treehouses when we were little, some of us wished we could live in treehouses when we grew up and then there are those people that actually get to live in treehouses (even if it’s just for the weekend).
Pezulu Tree House Lodge in Hoedspruit has eight beautifully built thatch and reed treehouses built right in the trees, in fact, the branches may even form part of your temporary home. Worthy of special mention are the Dream Treehouse which stretches across two stately marula trees, don’t forget the Jacuzzi and outdoor shower, and the Honeymoon Suite which will have you scampering off to renew your vows with its sunken bath, split level living, stunning Drakensberg Mountain backdrop and waterhole views.
Lion Sands Treehouses in Greater Kruger offer Chalkley’s Treehouse to honeymooners at the top of a giant jackalberry. This completely private wooden platform forms a lavish world under the stars, devoid of Wi-Fi but filled with the sounds of the bush and your significant other. You can also choose the Kingston Treehouse or the Tinyeleti Treehouse – in their own words, ‘the ultimate bush bedroom’.
Fun Facts of the Kruger Park
· The Kruger is two million hectares or the size of Israel.
· It has 21 rest camps, two private concession areas and 15 private lodges.
· Kruger has 517 birds, 336 trees, 147 mammals, 114 reptiles, 49 fish and 34 amphibian species for you to find.
· In 1950 a Zambezi shark was caught at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers, 150 kilometres from the sea.
· In the rainy season (October to March) the park turns into a lush paradise making the bush thicker and the animals harder to see.
· In the dry season (April to September) animals become concentrated around waterholes and rivers while vegetation becomes thinner, making your sightings better.
· There are almost 254 cultural heritage sites in Kruger, including nearly 130 recorded rock art sites.
· Evidence of prehistoric man, Stone Age and Iron Age settlements have also been found in Kruger.
· To explore Kruger, the choice is yours: wilderness trails, game drives, guided walks, 4x4 trails, mountain biking, backpacking trails, eco-trails, bush braais, as a wedding venue or try some golf with some crocodile water hazards.
Take to the Skies!
There are some days that you just need a new perspective on life, the kind of perspective that is gained from throwing yourself out of a plane, to freefall towards the ground for 40 seconds, with only a parachute strapped to your back. Luckily Witbank is only an hour from Joburg and Skydive Witbank offers static line courses every second Saturday. Don’t worry you get to practice on the ground first with your tandem instructor, before you jump out the plane at 220 kilometres per hour! Once you have static line skydiving mastered you can pump up your adrenalin levels with the Accelerated Freefall Programme. If you would like to skydive but like the idea of having a knowledgeable buddy pull your chute, then they offer tandem dives as well! Ideally, you should be 18 or older to jump out the plane, but 16-year-olds can jump with their parents signed permission.
The only commercial silk farm in Africa
Now, moms, we know you have done your time as silkworm parents but stick with us! Situated between Graskop and Bushbuckridge, Africa Silks farm offers daily tours that show the cycle from egg to silkworm to pupae and the final transformation, either back into egg or silk products. Having learnt about the multitude of different mulberries that can stain your clothes and how to unwind between 1.3 and 2.6 kilometres of silk from each cocoon as well as marvelling at the magic of the spinning process, you can relax at the tea garden. And then reward yourselves for those years of silkworm parenthood with beautiful silk duvets that are lighter than feathers and much warmer than down. Also check out the scarves, cushions, sheets and don’t forget to try out the amazing silk skincare products. They smell like heaven and work like a dream.