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Mpumalanga Information


The Mpumalanga province of South Africa is a popular tourism destination for visitors throughout the world. South Africa's national game park, the Kruger National Park, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Mpumalanga. The park was established in 1898 for the protection of Lowveld wildlife and covers 20,000 square kilometres of unspoilt territory. Some of the popular tourist towns in Mpumalanga include Barberton, Nelspruit, White River, Sabie, Graskop. Hazyview, Malelane and Nkomazi.

Mpumalanga is divided by the Drakensberg mountains into a westerly half consisting mainly of high-altitude grassland called the Highveld and an eastern half situated in low altitude subtropical Lowveld, mostly comprised of savanna habitat. Some of the oldest rocks on earth are to be found in the Barberton area and the Lowveld is underlaid by African Cratonic Basement rocks of ages in excess of 2 billion years. The Highveld is mostly Karoo Sequence sedimentary rocks of a younger, Carboniferous to Permian age.

The Mpumalanga province of South Africa is generally divided into four regions namely; Highveld and Cosmos region, Escarpment region, Lowveld and Kruger National Park region, Grass and Wetlands region.

The lowveld region of the Mpumalanga province of South Africa has a subtropical climate. The highveld region of Mpumalanga is comparatively much cooler because of its higher altitude. The highest rainfall in the province occurs in the Drakensberg escarpment region while the rest of Mpumalanga is moderately well-watered by mostly summer thunderstorms with winter rainfall a rarity.

History of Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga Province is one of the nine provinces of the Republic of South Africa, established in terms of the Interim Constitution of 1993. Following the South Africa ’s first democratic elections in 1994, the Mpumalanga Province was established as the Eastern Transvaal Province.

Mpumalanga means 'Place where the sun rises', and is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland in the east, and Gauteng in the west. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the north-east it rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense and breathtaking escarpment. In places this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld.

Mpumalanga is located on the South of Northern Province, East of Gauteng, North West of KwaZulu Natal, West of Swaziland and Mozambique.

Mpumalanga falls mainly within the Grassland Biome. The Escarpment and the Lowveld form a transitional zone between this grassland area and the Savannah Biome. Long sweeps of undulating grasslands abruptly change to the thickly forested ravines and thun- dering waterfalls of the escarpment, only to change again to present the subtropical wildlife splendour of the Lowveld. The escarpment and the Lowveld have always been popular tourist attractions. Now that new borders have been drawn for this province, only the southern, albeit most popular, part of the Kruger National Park is within this province. The Kruger National Park will, however, remain an untouched unit, a province for wildlife on its own.

The area is crisscrossed by a network of excellent roads and railway connections, making it highly accessible to the tourist. Because of its popularity as a tourist heartland, Mpumalanga is also well served by a number of small airports.

Mbombela is the legislative capital of Mpumalanga. This town is the administrative and business centre of the Lowveld and provides a perfect base from which to explore the province. Witbank is the centre of the local coal-mining industry; Standerton, in the south, is renowned for its large dairy industry; Piet Retief in the south-east is a production area for tropical fruit and sugar; while a large sugar industry is also found at Malelane in the east. Ermelo is the district in South Africa which produces the most wool; Barberton is one of the oldest gold-mining towns in South Africa; and Sabie is situated in the forestry heartland of the country. The green gold of Sabie and Graskop provides a large part of the country's total requirement for forestry products.

These forestry plantations are also an ideal backdrop for ecotourism opportunities, with a variety of popular hiking trails, myriad water-falls, patches of indigenous forest and a variety of nature reserves. The biggest of these is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, where God's Window provides unforgettable vistas of the Lowveld. An oasis is provided by the mineral springs at Badplaas. Chrissiesmeer is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa. It is famous for its large variety of aquatic birds, especially flamingos. The Sudwala Caves, deep in the dolomite rocks of the surrounding mountains, is a worth- while tourist stop. This evergreen comer of the South Africa has enormous tourism potential.

Mpumalanga Geography


The Drakensberg Escarpment divides Mpumalanga into a westerly half consisting mainly of high-altitude grassland called the Highveld and an eastern half situated in low altitude subtropical Lowveld/Bushveld, mostly savanna habitat. The southern half of the Kruger National Park is situated in the latter region. The Drakensberg exceeds heights of 2000m in most places with this central region of Mpumalanga being very mountainous. These regions have alpine grasslands and small pockets of Afromontane Forest. The Lowveld is relatively flat with interspersed rocky outcrops. The Lebombo Mountains form a low range in the far east forming the border with Mozambique.

Some of the oldest rocks on earth are to be found in the Barberton area and these ancient greenstones and metamorphosed granites form the Crocodile River Mountains in the south-east of the province. The Lowveld is underlaid by African Cratonic Basement rocks of ages in excess of 2 billion years. The Highveld is mostly Karoo Sequence sedimentary rocks of a younger, Carboniferous to Permian age.

  • Gaza Province, Mozambique - northeast
  • Maputo Province, Mozambique - east
  • Lubombo District, Swaziland - east, southwest of Maputo Province
  • Hhohho District, Swaziland - east, northwest of Lubombo
  • Manzini District, Swaziland - east, south of Hhohho
  • Shiselweni District, Swaziland - southeast, south of Manzini

Mpumalanga is the only province of South Africa to border two provinces of Mozambique or to border all four districts of Swaziland

Mpumalanga Climate


The Lowveld is subtropical, due to its proximity to the warm Indian Ocean and latitude. The Highveld is comparatively much cooler, due to its altitude of 2300m to 1700m above sea level. The Drakensberg Escarpment receives the most precipitation, with all other areas being moderately well-watered by mostly summer thunderstorms. The Highveld often experiences severe frost, whilst the Lowveld is mostly frost-free. Winter rainfall is rare, except for some drizzle on the escarpment. The differences in climate are demonstrated below by the capital, Nelspruit, which is in the Lowveld, located just an hour from Belfast on the Highveld.

  • Nelspruit averages: January maximum: 29°C (min: 19°C), July maximum: 23°C (min: 6°C), annual precipitation: 767 mm
  • Belfast averages: January maximum: 23°C (min: 12°C), June maximum: 15°C (min: 1°C), annual precipitation: 878 mm

Gauteng Fauna & Flora


The diverse and special flora and fauna of the province enjoys protection in a range of nature reserves, including:

  • Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve
  • Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, previously known as Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park. This international game park brings together some of the best and most established wildlife areas in southern Africa. The park is managed as an integrated unit across an unprecedented three international boundaries which includes the Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe).
  • Sabi-Sand Game Reserve, which is built up of numerous private reserves: Idube Safari Lodge, Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge, Djuma Game Reserve, Exeter Game Lodge, Inyati Private Game Reserve, Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, Londolozi Game Reserve, Mala Mala Game Reserve, Savanna Private Game Reserve and Ulusaba Game Lodge

Gauteng Law & Government


The Mpumalanga Province's legislation is an amalgam of national and regional legislation promulgated prior to the establishment of the Province on 27 April 1994, and legislation which it has itself promulgated since it came into existence. Lists of and the original texts of this legislation are available through various South African governmental websites, and amended and updated versions of the legislation is available through commercial vendors on subscription and at a price.

Gauteng Economy



The climatic contrasts between the drier Highveld region, with its cold winters, and the hot, humid Lowveld allow for a variety of agricultural activities. More than 68% of Mpumalanga is utilised by agriculture. Crops include maize, wheat,sorghum, barley, sunflower seed, soybeans, groundnuts, sugar cane, vegetables, coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, citrus, subtropical and deciduous fruit. Forestry is extensive around Sabie in the far north of the province. Located near the forests, Ngodwana is the site of one of South Africa's largest paper mills (Sappi). Natural grazing covers approximately 14% of Mpumalanga. The main products are beef, mutton, wool, poultry and dairy.


Extensive mining is done and the minerals found include: Gold, Platinum group metals, Silica, Chromite, Vanadiferous Magnetite, Argentiferous Zinc, Antimony, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Tin, Coal, Andalusite, Chrysotile Asbestos, Kieselguhr, Limestone, Magnesite, Talc and Shale.

Gold was first discovered in Mpumalanga province in 1883 by Auguste Roberts in the mountains surrounding what is now Barberton. Gold is still mined in the Barberton area today.

Mpumalanga accounts for 83% of South Africa's coal production. 90% of South Africa's coal consumption is used for electricity generation and the synthetic fuel industry. Coal power stations are in proximity to the coal deposits. A coal liquefaction plant in Secunda (Secunda CTL) is the one of the country's two petroleum-from-coal extraction plants, which is operated by the synthetic fuel company Sasol.


Mpumalanga is also a popular tourism destination. Kruger National Park, established in 1898 for the protection of Lowveld wildlife, covering 20,000 square kilometres (7,800 square miles), is a popular destination. The other major tourist attractions include the Sudwala Caves and the Blyde River Canyon.

The various towns in the region have much to offer, like the African Silk farm near Graskop, The coffee farm nearby. Many activities including The big jump, mountain and quad biking, horse trails, river rafting and big game viewing are endemic to the region. This is Big 5 territory. The towns in the Lowveld, comprise of Barberton, Nelspruit, White River, Sabie, Graskop. Hazyview, Malelane, Pilgrim's Rest, Lydenburg and Nkomazi.

In 2008 a Haute Cuisine route was formed, trickling from Nelspruit down to Hazyview, the Lowveld Gourmet Route covers the four top fine dining restaurants the area has to offer. The restaurants include Summerfields Kitchen, Oliver’s Restaurant, Orange and Salt.

Highveld & Cosmos

Grass & Wetlands


Escarpment | Western Cape | Eastern Cape | Northern Cape | Kwazulu-Natal | Free State | Gauteng | Limpopo Province | North West Province | Mpumalanga | Sitemap

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