Surrounded by the stunning Drakensberg mountains and natural beauty, Martin’s Haven Guest Lodge is the ideal holiday destination among those who seek reprieve from their busy city lives.
Martin’s Haven Guest Lodge is located on the Montrose Pass in Schoemanskloof, on the Highlands Meander route. It’s perfect location allows guests to truly immerse themselves in all the beauty of the highveld by easily exploring neighbouring towns like Barberton, Nelspruit, White River, Pilgrim’s Rest and Hazyview - and not forgetting all the lovely small towns along the Highlands Meander!
The Highlands Meander
The Highlands Meander is a treasure chest of gems waiting to be explored. It’s a region designed for both nature and adventure lovers, for history buffs and those seeking culturally-enriching experiences. Here, you’ll find space, tranquility and fresh air.
The Highlands Meander route is an approximately 4,5 hour drive through the towns of eMakhazeni (still known to many as Belfast), Dullstroom, eNtokozweni (formerly Machadodorp), Emgwenya (formerly Waterval Boven), Waterval Onder and Schoemanskloof. For the little more adventurous, take a detour to the town of Tonteldoos.
More about the towns along the Highlands Meander:
Dullstroom, commonly referred to as ‘Scotland's Only Outpost in Africa’ is arguably one of the most visited and well-known towns along the Highlands Meander route. The town’s success and boom in tourism can be directly linked to trout fishing. It was with the release of trout in 1916 and the further stocking of dams in 1927 that Dullstroom started making a name for itself as a premier fishing destination in South Africa, which consequently attracted fishermen and their families from across South Africa.
For those interested in history, Dullstroom was a town proclaimed by Paul Kruger in 1892 and referred to as the ‘Place of Eternal Mist’ by the first Dutch settlers. Dullstroom has played a significant role in South African history - it was the site of a battle between the Boers and Brits during the South African War. The town was almost completely destroyed.
Known to many as Belfast despite the change in name, this town located on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment is an impressive 2000m above sea level, and is famed for being one of the coldest places in South Africa. Just like Dullstroom, Belfast is also popular as a trout-fishing destination and forms part of the Highlands Meander ‘Trout Triangle’. An interesting fact unknown to many South Africans is that Belfast is home to the world’s biggest grower and distributor of tulip bulbs, with over 6 million bulbs leaving the town each year. Belfast, or Emakhazeni as it is now known, is also where South Africa’s oldest blue gum plantation can be found.
Previously known as Waterval Boven, Emgwenya can be found at the top of the escarpment above the Elands River waterfall, as its original name suggests. The 75m Eland Falls is best appreciated from the viewing platform accessible from the Netherlands-South African Railway Company’s tunnel, just outside the town.
Established in 1895, Waterval Boven served as a supply town for the NZASM railway line that transported goods from Pretoria to Delagoa Bay in Mozambique. Due to the success of the railway, Waterval Boven grew into a flourishing town used for the refuelling and repair of locomotives. Unfortunately in the mid-60s, the locomotive industry slowed down and the town had to look to alternative sources for income. Today Emgwenya is one of the top climbing destinations in the country, with over 700 challenging routes suitable for novice and experienced climbers alike.
Waterval Boven/ Emgwenya is home to many National Monuments such as the sandstone 5-Arch Bridge and NZASM tunnel, leftovers from a bygone era. For some thought-provoking sightseeing, take a trip to the Stone Circle Museum and Bistro to witness possibly the oldest man-made monument known to mankind, Adam’s Calendar. Some believe that Adam’s Calendar is the proof needed to challenge both creationism and Darwinism in answer to the age-old debated question - where did we come from?
Entokozweni / Machadodorp
Machadodorp was named after the Portuguese Major Joachim Machado, a prominent engineer on the Pretoria to Delagoa Bay railway line. The town now bears a new name, eNtokozweni, which means ‘place of happiness’. Machadodorp is a postcard pretty town set on the Elands River enveloped in spectacular mountain scenery and tranquility - the perfect destination for those seeking some time outdoors, hiking or mountain climbing. Machadodorp has its own interesting history too. Scattered throughout the hills that surround the town are thousands of stone walls, buildings and terraces of the baKoni ruins.
Schoemanskloof highway is an unfairly underrated destination in Mpumalanga. It’s one of the country’s most spectacular routes that takes drivers along spectacular scenery - craggy gorges, cascading waterfalls, forests, rocky outcrops, and citrus, nut and avocado farms can be seen here. The change of scenery from Highveld to Lowveld is dramatic and wonderful, and is not to be missed by those who appreciate the beauty of nature.
In direct opposition to Waterval Boven located at the top of Eland Falls, Waterval Onder is located at the bottom. Unlike Waterval Boven, Waterval Onder never developed into a town and has retained its quaint village charm. Despite its small size, it is by no means unimportant historically. Waterval Onder was the last home of President Paul Kruger before his exile to the Netherlands. His home, Krugerhof, is now a museum and National Monument. The village is also home to one of South Africa’s biggest mysteries involving lost gold, resulting in one of the world’s greatest treasure hunts - “The Search for The Kruger Millions”.
A glance over activities and attractions in the area:
- Stone Circle Museum (Waterval Boven)
- Fly Fishing at Machado flyfishing club
- Wathaba Hiking Trails (Machadodorp)
- The Pendle Hill Dairy (Dullstroom).
- Adam’s Calendar (Waterval Boven)
- Lydenburg Museum
- Rocky Drift Nature Reserve (Waterval Boven)
- Sudwala Caves (Nelspruit)
- Sterkspruit Nature Reserve (Lydenburg)
- Elands River Falls (Waterval Boven)
- Matsamo Cultural Village (Jeppe’s Reef border with Swaziland)
Restaurants and pubs in the area:
- Wild About Whiskey (Dullstroom)
- Duck and Trout Restaurant and Pub (Dullstroom)
- Anvil Ale House (Dullstroom)
- The Rambling Rose Victorian Tea Garden (Lydenburg)
- Plat du Jour (Dullstroom)
- Hops Hollow Brewery (Lydenburg)
- The Seedlings Restaurant (Schoemanskloof)
Now that you know all the exciting towns that you could possibly discover on a holiday to Mpumalanga, why not book yourself a night for yourself and your partner at Martin’s Haven Guest Lodge? It’s the ideal base from where to explore the province’s cultural, historical and natural heritage and attractions.
C/O R539 and N4,
25 27'3 . 58 S
30 42'19 . 98 E