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LOCAL TIME: 08:23 pm | Sunday, 28 November
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Highveld and Cosmos Region of Mpumalanga

Cosmos are the pretty pink and white flowers that inundate the Highveld grasslands in spring. The Highveld and Cosmos Region is named after these little flowers, but a more apt name might be the Coal Mining Heart of South Africa.

Coal mines, refineries, cooling towers and power stations abound, dominating the landscape around many towns, but if you are prepared to do a little exploring, you will find a few treasures, and when the smog blows away, the clear skies of the Highveld are a particular shade of pale blue a little unlike anywhere else.

You will pass though the Highveld and Cosmos Region if driving from Johannesburg to the Highlands region of Mpumalanga, or the northern section of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Coast, Swaziland or Mozambique. Most of the towns you will go through are small to large mining towns, but in the area around Middelburg and Witbank there is some pretty scenery and a few attractions that make good destinations in themselves.

The towns of Balfour, Bethal, Blinkpan, Delmas, Greylingstad, Hendrina, Kinross, Morgenzon, Standerton and Trichardt are all farming, coal or gold mining towns, some tiny, some fairly sizeable, with settlement infrastructure and amenities, and although the surrounding rural areas may have country guest houses, private game farms and/or hunting lodges, there is little directed to tourism in the towns themselves.

‘Scottish’ and British names like ‘Kinross’ are hail back to the 1800’s and 1900’s when the towns were laid out in the’ gold rush’ heydeys. Marble Hall’s intriguing name is an adaptation of Marble Hole, in reference to a lime pit.

The Olifants River Gorge offers hiking trails and other outdoors activities and there are a few nature reserves and private game reserves, including the excellent Loskop Dam Nature Reserve near Middelburg.

This region has a significant cultural heritage and the northern part is often referred to as the Cultural Heartland of Mpumalanga. This is best experienced at the Botshabelo Mission Station and Cultural Village near Middelburg, though you will see the unmistable Ndebele culture dotted about the region.