Mpumalanga’s 10 unique wildlife areas

Mpumalanga is perhaps best known as the home of the Kruger National Park, but here is the Sunrise Province’s list of its top ten unexpected discoveries.

waterfall, mpumalanga

Image: Teagan Cunniffe

1. Jane Goodall Chimp Eden Sanctuary

Visit this famous and encouragingly-responsible sanctuary to watch the healthy, happy rescue chimps roam, swing, scavenge, squabble and scrap in their spacious, forested enclosures.

 

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2. Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom and nearby Chrissiesmeer offer the largest populations of endangered bird species in the country. In addition to many water birds – yes, including startlingly pink flamingos – the keen twitcher might be able to tick some tricky boxes, such as Rudd’s Lark, Botha’s Lark and the Blue Korhaan.

 

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Driebandstrandkiewiet(Three banded Plover)# wildlifephotography #southafri canbirds#wakkerstroom

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3. Secunda

More than 100 servals roam free in the vicinity of the vast Sasol fuel plant, making this the highest-density serval population in the world. These glorious creatures feed on the prolific local rodent population and are surprisingly habituated, although far from tame.

 

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4. Blyde River Canyon

Cruise the Blyderivierspoort dam from Swadini and check out the tufa (calcium carbonate) falls. You might even get to see rare samango monkeys, but hippos and crocs abound. Birdlife includes the African Crowned and African Fish Eagle, African Finfoot and White-backed Night Heron.

 

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5. White River Nature Reserve

Aloe simii is endemic to this 21-hectare haven, where marsh mongoose, porcupine and spotted genet also live in peaceful coexistence, right next to this attractive little country town.

 

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6. Manyeleti Game Reserve

Affordable, unexpected exclusivity! Over 23,000 hectares unfenced from the Greater Kruger area with all the same Big Five wildlife, but the freedom to do your own thing, or join a guide and camp, caravan or even self-cater. Manyeleti means ‘place of stars’.

 

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7. Peddlars Bush and Saddleback Pass

Again, for the birders, Peddlars Bush offers uncommon species such as Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon and Bush Blackcap. En route lies Saddleback Pass, a tiny patch of indigenous forest wedged between vast timber plantations, where amongst the rock-strewn, protea-rich hillsides, specials such as Cape Rock Thrush and Jackal Buzzard may be seen.

 

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Treetop pondering #peddlarsbush

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8. Loskop Dam

The extensive Loskop Dam is a massive 30 km long and boasts a wide range of fish species including carp, bream, yellowfish and catfish, as well as some rare mammals for the province including eland, blesbok and white rhino as well as wildebeest, zebra and giraffe.

 

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9. Kaapschehoop

Wild horses should drag you here, and so should the lovely nature walks, wild mushrooms in the pine forests. In winter, the rocky escarpment brightens up with thousands of flowering aloes attracting the endemic Gurney’s Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird. Sadly, the Blue Swallow, for which the area was renowned, no longer nests there, but birdwatchers will find numerous other unusual species.

 

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Roaming free🍃🌾🍁 ° ° ° #kaapschehoop #wildhorses #roaming #Southafrica

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10. Kruger National Park

To leave this one out would be quite unusual. The expansive and dynamic Kruger habitat is home, among other thrills, to over 1,000 leopards, 1,500 lions, 17,000 elephants and 170,000 impala among the 148 mammal species to be seen in the park’s two million hectares. Not to mention 505 bird species, 25 amphibians and 118 different types of reptile… It is, of course, one of the world’s finest and best-managed conservation areas.

 

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Featured image: Teagan Cunniffe

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