Nkomazi Municipal District Tourism

Things to See & Do
Authentic Wildlife Safari and Rich Cultural Heritage

The Nkomazi Local Municipality is located in the eastern part of the Ehlanzeni District Municipality of the Mpumalanga Province. The municipality is strategically placed between Swaziland (North of Swaziland) and Mozambique (east of Mozambique). It is linked with Swaziland by two provincial roads and with Mozambique by a railway line and the main national road (N4), which forms the Maputo Corridor.

The Malalane and Crocodile Bridge entrance to the Kruger National Park are found in this area. The Nkomazi valley is a narrow, green wedge of land that borders two countries and is considered to be one of the most fertile regions in the whole of South Africa. It’s also unique in that you could conceivably have breakfast in South Africa, lunch in Swaziland and dinner in Mozambique, all while leisurely taking in the numerous tourism attractions that the area has to offer.

Having two gates entrance gates into The Kruger National Park allows access to the Big Five and plenty of other animals in the world-renowned wildlife sanctuary. Various guesthouses,  lodges and B&B’s operate within the area ensuring that tourists still get the African experience even outside the gates of the Park.

Malalane means “small lala palms” and was officially established on 6 July 1949. The Sugar Industry, which was established in 1965, had a great impact on the economy of Malalane. It was still a village with 320 people and a primary school for 105 scholars. There were only 23 buildings or structures in and around the town, including a hotel, two banks, two filling stations, two shops and four churches. The erection of the sugar mill, between 1965 and 1967, meant that TSB (Transvaal Suiker Beperk) had to provide housing for their workers. There were no houses in Malalane to buy or to rent and TSB had to undertake the building of 70 homes in the town. Facilities for sport and recreation had to be made available. The factory’s personnel were housed close to the mill in its own little town known as Mhlathi Kop.

Malalane (formerly Malelane) is a farming town in Mpumalanga, South Africa situated on the N4 national highway. The farms in the region produce sugarcane, subtropical fruit and winter vegetables. The town was proclaimed in 1949 after which it was named. The origin of the name is disputed but was corrupted from the Swazi. Either the expression “eMlalani” which means place of the palms, or the expression “lala” which means to sleep are accepted origins of the name. The town started as the first rest-stop between Lourenço Marques and Pretoria.

SAMORA MACHEL MONUMENT
The Tupolev Tu-134 carrying President Samora Machel of Mozambique and his companions crashed at Mbuzini in the Lebombo Mountains on Sunday 19th October 1986, whilst returning to Mozambique from a meeting in Zambia. President Samora Machel and 34 others perished in the crash. The cause of the crash is as yet unresolved. Also on board the plane were members of Machel’s staff and prominent politicians. Among those who died were four Soviet crew members, two Cuban doctors and the Zambian and Zairean ambassadors to Mozambique. Only nine people survived the crash. The monument was designed by Mozambican architect, Joes Foraz. It consists of 35 steel tubes symbolizing the number of lives lost in the crash. The pillars cast long shadows over the base and the wind causes permanent whisperings through incisions in the pillars. It was unveiled by President Nelson Mandela on the 19th January 1999. As a tribute by the South African Government to an outstanding African Leader the memorial site was upgraded in 2006. Among other facilities erected are an exhibition area and an amphitheatre. Directions: from the N4 east of Malelane take the R570 (Jeppes reef road) or the R571 Komatipoort and follow the information signs. Turn left from the R571 and follow the road over the mountain to Mbuzini, a distance of about 30km.
Matsamo

The area of what is now The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly and still commonly known in English as Eswatini) has been inhabited by various different ethnic groups of people for a very long time. In eastern Eswatini human remains dating back 100,000 years belonging to the oldest homo sapiens have been discovered. The Bushman as is evident from the large number of San (Bushman) cave paintings were among the first inhabitants of this region. The liSwati’s themselves arrived relatively late in history. The  have their origins in East Africa around the great lakes, speaking siSwati having its origin predominantly in the Nguni group of Languages. In the late 15th century as part of the general southward expansion of the Nguni the liSwati’s crossed the Limpopo River to settle in southern Tongaland (now part of Mozambique). They remained here under their Chief (Dlamini I) for about 200 years until they moved into the fertile Pongola valley which is now part of South Africa. Economic pressure and land shortages soon resulted in a number of skirmishes and battles with the neighbouring Ndwandwe clan, which ultimately resulted in a further migration of the liSwati’s into what is now central Eswatini. From here the liSwati’s by way of absorption and conquest of Sotho and baPedi people built up a large Kingdom. Ngwane III established his headquarters in Zombodze. His grandson Sobhuza further expanded the Kingdom of Eswatini by absorbing Sotho, Tsonga and Nguni chiefdoms. His rule was marked by the “Mfecane” when the Zulu under Shaka threatened the entire sub region. Sobhuza met Shaka’s advances with diplomacy, giving two of his daughters to the Zulu King. He outlived Shaka and brought peace and prosperity to all his subjects. The liSwati under Sobhuza went on to defeat the Zulus under Dingane at Hlatikulu. Sobhuza I is regarded as the founder of pre-colonial Eswatini. He is also credited with bringing maize (now the staple food for southern Africa) from the Portuguese to the subcontinent. At the death of Sobhuza I, the mother of Sobhuza’s son Mswati II became Queen Regent until Mswati became of age. His influence and power gradually grew to envelope the area from the Limpopo in the north the Pongola River in the south and the Crocodile River in the west covering an area of about three times the size of modern Eswatini and, today forming part of South Africa including the area where Matsamo is situated. Hence, more liSwati’s live in these areas in South Africa as South African citizens, than those living in the Kingdom of Eswatini itself. The liSwati were the dominant power in the region for a period of 15 years. In 1865 when Mswati died he left a strong nation ruled by a cohesive ruling class. King Mswati was to be the last truly independent ruler of Eswatini for the next 100 years. A period of peace followed under the Queen regent prior to the reign of Mbanzeni. At this time the relationship between the LiSwati People and the arriving white settlers was friendly and co-operative. liSwati’s treated both British and Boers as allies. However both groups of whites had their own agenda. The Boers were looking for both arable land and a route to the sea where they could establish a port of their own, thereby avoiding the hated British. The British in return was reluctant to lose the trade provided by the Boers. To aggravate matters gold was found in Eswatini in 1882, leading to hundreds of European settlers rushing to The Kingdom. Although Mbanzeni frequently asserted the sovereignty of the liSwati, he had no control over the whites and he was coerced into granting land concessions and prospecting rights. These often clashed with the rights of customary land usage. In the 1881 Pretoria Convention, Eswatini was guaranteed its independence but its borders were defined. This independence meant that Eswatini lost large parts of its territory including the Matsamo area. King Mbanzeni died in 1889 and was succeeded by King Ngwane V also known as King Bhunu. Without consulting the LiSwati, in 1894, the two white powers concluded a convention whereby the Boer Republic of Transvaal was granted control over Eswatini and it ceased to be an Independent State. After the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) Britain made Eswatini a protectorate and the Transvaal became part of the Union of South Africa, taking with it two-thirds of Eswatini. At the death of King Ngwane in 1899 the wife of King Mswati II Labotsibeni Mdluli took over the reign. In this troubled time when the LiSwati came to grips with the loss of sovereignty, the queen Mother fought to get the land and independence back, petitions were sent to Britain, delegations of the liSwati went to lobby in Britain. Most legal arguments were lost on technicalities. Labotsibeni organised a campaign to buy back the lost land from the British and Boers, to this effect many LiSwati went to work in the mines in South Africa. Gradually land was returned to the LiSwati, until in 1968 about two thirds of the land had reverted back to the LiSwati Nation. Labotsibeni recognized the changing times and the need to introduce western style education to her people, she therefore started the Eswatini National School, and Sobhuza became one of its first students. Sobhuza went on to study at Lovedale college in South Africa where he came into contact with many future leaders of Africa. Sobhuza became a founding member of the ANC. In 1922 King Sobhuza II was installed as Paramount chief of Eswatini and King to the LiSwati nation. He took over from his grandmother Gwamile, who had been Queen Regent whilst he was underage. King Sobhuza died in 1982 after 60 years on the throne; he died as the longest reigning monarch. King Mswati III ascended the throne in 1986 at the age of 18. He is the youngest reigning monarch in the world. Matsamo Cultural Park is named after Chief Matsamo, a prominent Shongwe Chief and contemporary of King Mswati II, who was the first LiSwati Chief who resided permanently in the area and established 13 rural villages between 1840 and 1925. Today this area is under control of the Matsamo Tribal Authority. Although the residents of these thirteen villages are today still predominantly LiSwati in custom and traditions, they are part of the diverse South African Nation.

Matsamo Customs & Tradition Centre

Day Tours to the Village:

Tourists visiting the park participate in a guided tour for one and a half hours through the village and are treated to folk dancing, other cultural performing arts, food and drinks. Day tours of the area and the local rural communities are arranged on request. Guides are well informed members from the community with extensive experience in hosting guests assuring that the time spent at Matsamo will both be interesting and entertaining. Combo packages which include a tour, show and breakfast, lunch or dinner are also available. The tour consists of exploring a traditional African village, organised around family relationships and household activity areas and places for special occasions such as religious ceremonies. Traditions of farming communities are central to social life, settlement patterns, animal husbandry, agriculture, technology and trade. Guests may wander through the village with its many huts and seclusions, each allocated for a specific social function and interact with the villagers as they go about their daily activities. Traditional African crops are cultivated, the Nguni cattle herd can be seen, traditional food is prepared and ancient crafts are being practised. Old customs are recalled and one can marvel at the harmony which exists between man and nature in Africa.  For a moment in time guests will be part of the family and remembered long after they have gone. The highlight is certainly the song and dance performed by the villagers, which usually results in keen participation by guests. The alfresco restaurant “African Theatre”, set in true African aesthetics is nestled in a peaceful setting with cobbling water and a panoramic view. It has two covered wings, each seating 65 people and an open-air terrace seating 70 people. For functions 300 people can be accommodated. The restaurant “Edladleni” can seat 60 people and is available for private groups. A buffet breakfast is served 7 days a week from 7h00 until 11h00 and a buffet lunch blended with a taste of Africa from 12h00 to 15h30.

MAHUSHE SHONGWE GAME RESERVE

Mahushe Shongwe Game Reserve is located in the lowveld in Malelane in the far eastern sector of the  Mpumalanga province. The reserve was established on community lands, where residents benefit in many practical ways through conservation programmes initiated by the Mpumalanga Parks Board. The reserve is small but highly concentrated with various species of acacias alongside Russet, Bushwillow and Tamboti. The seasonal Mzinti River is lined with Jackalberry and Sycamore Fig Trees. The reserve is home to the rare Impala lily, which is under severe threat through increasing loss of habitat. There are many species of herbivores that have been re-introduced to the Mahushe Shongwe Game Reserve such as Kudu, Waterbuck, Impala and Burchell’s Zebra (these are most commonly seen). Other wildlife that can be seen at Mahushe Shongwe Game Reserve are Nyala, Warthog and Vervet Monkeys. There are also small carnivores that can be seen at Mahushe Shongwe Game Reserve such as the African Civet, Blackjacked Jackel, Banded Mongoose and Large spotted Genet. Mahushe Shongwe Game Reserve is a birdwatchers’ paradise - birds that can be seen include the Pinkthroated Twinspot, Yellowspotted Nicator, Purplecrested Lourie, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Woodland Kingfisher, Scops owl, Pearlspotted owl, Whitefaced owl, Barn owl, Giant Eagle Owl, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Lizzard Eagle and Little Sparrowhawk.

DRIEKOPPIES DAM

The dam, along with Maguga in Swaziland forms part of the Komati Basin Water Authority project, part of Driekoppies extends into Swaziland. The dam lies in the lowveld with year round warm weather, is close to the Kruger National Park, Malelane Gate, so you can combine your fishing trip with some Big 5 game viewing. Best of all though Driekoppies is populated by some very big largemouth bass. Fish in the 3 to 4 kg range are being caught in the abundant structure that is a feature of the dam. By all accounts big creature baits dropped into the standing trees in 10 metres of water will often elicit a strike. It goes without saying that big fish and loads of drowned trees call for heavy tackle and line. Facilities are very scarce at this stage, no accommodation, slipway or ablutions are available so be prepared to rough it but the fishing is worth it.

SELATI SUGAR MILL

Transvaal Sugar Limited was founded in 1965, in the Onderberg region of the South Eastern Transvaal Lowveld, now Mpumalanga, the place of the rising sun, this area is legendary for the early mining potential, as a hunting ground and for the beautiful unspoilt natural environment.

In this pristine valley where nature is largely undisturbed, the hot sunny climate and the fertile soils lend themselves to the highest quality sugar cane in the country growing alongside other healthy and exotic subtropical fruits like litchis, mangos, bananas and citrus. Along with the traditional commercial farmers are a substantial number of small growers including new projects currently being developed at Hoyi, Mabuna, Madadeni and Spoons, all of whom supply 3,5 million tons of excellent sugar cane reaped from 34 000 hectares. RCL Foods Sugar and Milling (Pty) Ltd state of the art mills and refinery at Komati and Malelane are able to produce 600 000 tons of sugar annually which is marketed under the mystical SELATI “in the footsteps of my father”.. brand with its renowned red sun icon and original Selati “weave” decoration. With the gradual deregulation of the South African sugar industry it has become necessary for RCL Foods Sugar and Milling (Pty) Ltd to broaden their strategic vision to include, in addition to low cost production, for closer focus on consumer and trade needs in terms of new products, packs and distribution channels.

Since the commissioning of the company’s first sugar mill in Malelane in 1967 RCL Foods Sugar and Milling (Pty) Ltd has experienced tremendous growth, and in 1994 a second sugar mill was established south of Komatipoort and a third acquired in 2009 in Pongola.

Malelane Gate

Malelane Gate is on the Crocodile River, about 50km upstream from Crocodile Bridge. Be warned, it is one of Kruger’s busiest gates and there are often long queues of cars waiting to get into the Park at weekends and during school holidays. The Malelane area has long been an area of human habitation. Just south of the entrance gate is the ancient ochre mining site of Dumaneni. Kruger historians JJ Kloppers and Hans Bornman believe that over 100 000 tons of red ochre were mined at Dumaneni between 46 000 and 28 000 years ago. The San appeared to have been the first miners, using ochre for artistic and medicinal purposes. Iron-Age smelters found at Dumaneni indicate that the mine was operative during the Iron Age, which began in southern Africa approximately 2 000 years ago. Red ochre has long been associated with power.

Malelane Gate Explorer Options

  • Matjulu Loop (S110); 23km back to main road; (1,5 hours) tar and dust road into the heart of the southern biome, mixed woodlands and mountains with reputation for good sightings;
  • Crocodile River Road (S114, S25) to Crocodile Bridge; 141km, 5,5 hours; dust road; thorn thickets and riverine bush; good for cheetah;
  • Main Road to Skukuza (H3); 64km; 2,5 hours; beautiful drive through rolling hills of mixed woodlands, interesting sightings around Afsaal;
  • Afsaal to Pretoriuskop (H2-2); 34km; 1,5 hours; historic drive along the old transport riders’ route past Ship Mountain into the south-western foothills; often good for rhino, eland and hyaena.
Hectorspruit

Hectorspruit’s fame lies in the role it played during the South African (Anglo Boer) War. Despite being at the very reaches of South Africa’s eastern borders, or perhaps because of this, General Louis Botha and other leaders began a guerrilla campaign from here that kept them in the playing field for an extra 18 months. Today the town is a fair sized agricultural centre that serves the myriad surrounding farms that specialise in sugarcane, subtropical fruits (obviously, given the weather) and vegetables.

Whilst the origin of a town’s name is usually superfluous, in Hectorspruit’s case it is fairly interesting, considering that the name once belonged to a dog. This particular dog was owned by the chief surveyor of the Pretoria - Delagoa Bay railway line, so he possibly had an important role to play. Certainly he was well enough loved to provide a town and its stream with his name. Situated due east of the Rest Camp in the southern reaches of the Hectorspruit rests on the popular N4 that connects it with to the east and to the west. This narrow corridor is called the Maputo-Nelspruit development corridor because it is a narrow slip of land that links Swaziland with the Kruger. Many visitors pass through Hectorspruit because of its position in the Maputo Nelspruit development corridor. In the surrounding hills and valleys you can find San rock engravings, whilst the banks of the Crocodile River are atmospheric.

Komatipoort

The word Komati comes from the Swazi word, “Nkhomati”, which means “river of cows”. Komatipoort is situated near the Kruger National Park, on the Western slopes of the Lebombo Mountains. The Lebombo mountains form a natural barrier between South Africa and Mozambique. Today, Komatipoort is a quiet, sedate town. Malaria is under control, but it remains one of the hottest places in South Africa, with summer temperatures averaging about 33 degrees celcius, and balmy winter temperatures of around 26 degrees celcius. Komatipoort is a railway and customs centre as well as producing agricultural products like vegetables and subtropical fruits. The Crocodile River reaches the end of its course when it becomes a tributary of the Komati River. At the confluence of the Komati and Crocodile Rivers is the town of Komatipoort. This quaint town is only 8km from Crocodile Bridge Gate and 50km from Malalane Gate, two of the well known gates of the Kruger Park. The town is only 3km from the Lebombo Border Post. Komatipoort, in the 1890’s was hot and feverous and Malaria was endemic.The Komatipoort of those days was a wild and uproarious construction camp for the railway being built from Lourenco Marques (now called Maputo). During the Anglo/Boer War, the town was used as a base by Lieutenant-Colonel Steinaecker and his “Forty Thieves”. This group was later enlarged to become “Steinaecker’s Horse”. They were a bunch of mercenaries and bushwackers and were recruited by the British in order to fight Boer guerillas in the bushveld. With one of the most perfect winter climates the country has to offer, Komatipoort lies at the point at which the Komati and Crocodile rivers meet on the western slopes of the Lebombo Mountains, which form a natural barrier between South Africa and Mozambique. Marketed as “more than just a stopover“, Komatipoort is essentially a quaint, border post town just three kilometres from the Lebombo border post into Mozambique. 

Komatipoort is situated in the Kruger Lowveld region of Mpumalanga in South Africa, sitting in the confluence of the Crocodile and Komati Rivers. The town is approximately 8km from the Crocodile Bridge Gate leading to the Kruger National Park and only 5km from the border to Mozambique. Komatipoort is the main rail and road link between South Africa and both Swaziland and Mozambique. The town is small and peaceful with the perfect winter climate of early 20°C, however it is also one of the hottest towns in South Africa in summer, with temperatures reaching upper 40°C. The towns name is derived from the Komati River and the word ‘poort’ meaning mountain pass referring to the natural barrier of the Lebombo mountain range between South Africa and Mozambique. Mozambique’s former President Samora Machel died in a plane crash near Komatipoort, in the Lebombo mountain range. Marking the accident site is the Samora Machel Monument. Many tourists opt to stay in Komatipoort for ease of access into the Kruger National Park. The tranquil tree-lined streets and friendly locals make the town inviting to those that seek solace from a hectic city life. Whilst this may make it sound like a quiet little town on the way to nowhere, nothing could be further from the truth. Komatipoort lies just 8 kilometres from the Crocodile Bridge gate into the Kruger National Park, 5 kilometres from the Mozambique border and only 65 kilometres from the Swazi border, making day trips to each of these places incredibly
easy.

Routes from Crocodile Bridge Gate:

  • The main tar road north to Lower Sabie (H4-2)
  • Towards the Lebombo area (S28) in an easterly direction
  • Going in a western direction on the Crocodile River Road into Biyamati (S25)
  • On a northerly route with the H4-1 going to Skukuza, via the Randspruit Road (H5)
  • Crocodile Bridge Gate is the most eastern entrance to Kruger National Park. Crocodile Bridge Gate can be entered in from the N4 road. The N4 travels along Nelspruit and Malelane into Komatipoort. It is one of the hottest areas, going over 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) in summer. It’s also in close proximity to the border gate between South Africa and Mozambique. Crocodile Bridge Gate is named after the Crocodile River. For those who are heading into the south-eastern section of the Park, Crocodile Bridge is the most direct way of doing so. With Crocodile Bridge having a high concentration of game, wildlife viewing opportunities are high and exciting. A short distance from the gate, you will find Crocodile Bridge Camp - equipped with a petrol (gas) station, essentials and food. Please note that this camp usually floods during heavy rainfall.
Marloth Park

Marloth Park is both a town and a nature conservancy, which means that it is close to perfect for nature lovers or those that really want to experience the wild beauty of this continent unhindered by development, urbanisation, or even fences. Marloth Park is situated on the border of the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Marloth Park has a host of accommodation to choose from; Award winning lodges, guest houses and many self-catering  houses are available for rental.

The town and its people are particularly committed to the fauna and flora that makes this part of Mpumalanga so special. Therefore, they adhere to strict regulations regarding the hindering of the animals’ natural movement, and allow many of these species to cross this border freely and with no threat. In so doing, Marloth Park retains its biodiversity and is loyal to the variety and natural prosperity of South Africa. Animals can be seen grazing, wondering the veld gracefully, or drinking from the mighty Crocodile River; just metres away from the homes of Marloth Park. In fact, almost half of the town’s land area is parkland, which caters to the plants and animals of the southern part of Kruger, which have chosen this as their natural habitat. Visitors to Marloth Park can look forward to seeing four of the Big Five; namely lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino.

Elephants are only seen within Kruger itself, though, and can often be spotted quenching their thirst on the banks of the Crocodile River. There are more than 350 recorded avian species here. These include the fish eagle, bat hawk, sanderling, grey-headed gull, Damara tern, hawk eagle, plum-coloured starling, brown-headed parrot, black-headed oriole, lilac-breasted roller, black stork, Bateleur eagle, crested barbet, Marabou stork, Scops owl (or white-faced owl), colourful kingfisher species, spoonbill, eagle owl and martial eagle. Other wildlife to keep an eye out for includes various antelope species, giraffe, zebra and ostrich.

Nkomazi Game Reserve

Information will be avilable soon . . . .