t The park’s vast habitat, home to hundreds of animal species
EXPERIENCE Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kruger
Northeasterly Mpumalanga and Limpopo are the most ethnically diverse of South Africa’s non-urban provinces, supporting a mix of Swazi, Zulu, Tsonga, Ndebele, North Sotho, Venda and various smaller tribes. The northeast was the last part of South Africa to be settled by Europeans, and little is known about its prehistory, despite the presence in Limpopo of several mysterious ruined medieval cities. In the late 19th century, Mpumalanga assumed importance as part of a trade route between Pretoria and Maputo (Mozambique). The province’s oldest towns include Ohrigstad and Lydenberg, a pair of Voortrekker settlements established in the 1840s, and Pilgrim’s Rest and Barberton, respectively founded in 1873 and 1883 on the back of local gold rushes. The Sabi Game Reserve, gazetted by President Kruger in 1898, was later expanded to become the enormous 19,485-sq-km (7,525-sq-mile) Kruger National Park. Prior to 1994, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng all formed part of the Transvaal; the first two are relatively poorly developed, with limited employment opportunities and almost exclusively agricultural economies, but Mpumalanga boasts a significant tourist industry.