Your bucket list of favourite destinations for holidaying in South Africa will no doubt include a trip to the Kruger National Park – the bush and its unique something coupled with the anticipation of seeing the Big Five is lure enough, but if White River is your entry point then you would be remiss not to include a few other awesome experiences in the area, to your travel agenda.
This beautiful, rural countryside of White River in Mpumalanga is peppered with scenic waterfalls, magnificent mountains, lush valleys and the many animals that call this home. It is a wonderful place to explore, and offers plenty of adventure. Mike Jameson, General Manager at Destiny Lodge White River by BON, shares his top things to do in White River, adding, “There is something for everyone and this makes for a great family destination.”
More than the Big 5
The self-drive Reptile Route sssssoundsss more horrifying than it actually is and whilst you can stop off at Perry’s Reptile Park, this short day trip slithers its way through the Mpumalanga lowveld offering plenty more to do and see – the views alone are spectacular. Animal lovers will enjoy the Dinosaur Park and Chimpanzee Eden which is set on a 1 000-hectare game reserve, and is home to chimpanzees that have been misplaced from their natural habitat, bringing the world of these extraordinary primates closer to people through education, tourism and modern technology.
And the adventure doesn’t stop there, as you move from above-ground to the underground at Sudwala Caves, which formed some 240 million years ago – hour-long tours of the caves are run throughout the day, and a monthly five-hour-long Crystal Tour takes visitors 2 000 metres into the cave. If you time it right, you could be lucky enough to take in a concert or play – in the main hall The Ampitheatre whose sheer size and natural air conditioning make it an ideal performing arts venue.
You auto do this
If it’s cars you are into, then a stop at the Antique Car Museum is a must – the museum is an impressive three-level complex with over 2 000m2 of floor space showcasing over 60 automobiles from as early as 1911, allowing you to get up close and personal with these grand dames of yesteryear.
Orange is the new grape
On your way back, Mike recommends orange wine tasting – yip, they use oranges instead of grapes – at Rottcher Orange Winery located on Casterbrige Farm. Using an age-old tradition of fermentation, they have created a range of unique drinks that incorporate natural zest and goodness. You may even get to meet the distiller himself, Frank Theron, whose innovation and passion for the industry is inspiring.
You’ll no doubt be hungry after driving around, taking in all the sights and sounds, and there are a variety of restaurants to satiate growling tummies, suggests Mike. “Do stop by Zamani, the in-house restaurant at Destiny Lodge White River by BON – they have just launched a delicious new menu,” he says. Or you can tuck into something delectable at Daloose Mongoose, Magnolia, Gumtreez and 64 Coolmore.
The outskirts of White River and further afield in Nelspruit, Sabie and Hazyview are also home to many more wonders and attractions from adventure sports to cultural tours, shopping malls, waterfalls and more.