Mpumalanga’s Highlands Meander is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting South Africa’s premier fly-fishing Mecca, some of the sub-continent’s rarest birds, best rock climbing, and most spectacular wild flower displays — all just two-hours drive from the metropolitan centres of Gauteng and Mozambique.
It is also home to Africa’s only breeding community of wild Black Leopard, who haunt the wild mountain ravines and streams that characterise the Highland Meander. The region’s diversity and string of quaint historic towns have made it a popular weekend hideaway for well-heeled city slickers, who flock to hamlets such as Dullstroom for South Africa’s best trout and fly fishing. The town’s stone lodges nestle along cool trout dams and streams, where bright yellow arum lilies and 120 other species of indigenous wild flower carpet the region in a kaleidoscope of colour every spring.
The picturesque village of Dullstroom wasn’t, however, always such a haven. It was the scene of bloody battles during the Anglo Boer War 100 years ago, and was torched by invading British forces. The ruined forts, trenches and artillery placements are still visible around the village, as are the graves of Boer fighters and Imperial troopers. Those interested in more peaceful pursuits should not miss the Verloren Valei Nature Reserve, which boasts the only habitat where all three of the world’s endangered cranes are found. The Blue Crane, which is South Africa’s national bird, can be spotted along with the Wattled Crane and Crowned Crane at the reserve, which has been declared an international RAMSAR wetlands site. Nearby Machadodorp Dullstroom, and Waterval Boven are also rich with Boer War history.