Mpumalanga Wildlife Areas, South Africa.

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Mpumalanga is known as the home of the Kruger National Park, but here is the Sunrise Province’s list of its Top Ten Unexpected Discoveries.

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

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, but far from tame.

Blyde River Canyon – cruise the Blyderivierspoort dam from Swadini and check out the tufa waterfalls. 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.

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

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’. You get the picture?

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.

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.

The extensive Loskop Dam is a massive thirty kilometres 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.

Kaapschehoop – wild horses should drag you here, and so should the lovely nature walks, wild mushrooms and 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 birders will find numerous other unusual species.

Kruger National Park – to leave it out would be wrong, wouldn’t it? This huge and dynamic habitat is home to over 1000 leopards, 1500 lions, 17000 elephants and 170000 impalas, among the 148 mammal species to be seen in the 2-million-hectare expanse. 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.

The Kruger Lowveld region is located in the north eastern corner of South Africa predominantly in Mpumalanga Province. The region borders the countries of Mozambique and Swaziland and includes the southern half of the Kruger National Park. It is situated about 400km (250 miles) from Johannesburg and Pretoria; and 1800km (1120 miles) from Cape Town.

** Details supplied by Kruger Lowveld who have an amazing site with endless useful information on the area.

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