Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga is famous for being one of South Africa’s best rock climbing destinations due to the majestic crags that surround the area. I’m no climber, so I set out to see what else the area has to offer.
I was hosted by the folk at the lovely Malaga Hotel & Spa, a peaceful country retreat near Waterval Boven, perfect for a weekend away from the city. It’s just a 3 hour drive from Joburg, and also a great stopover if you’re heading to Mozambique.
Waterval Boven a.k.a Emgwenya
Waterval Boven (meaning ‘above the waterval’) is located on the edge of the escarpment on the banks of the gorgeous Elands River. The town is now known as Emgwenya (Zulu for ‘place of the crocodile’).
The waterfall refers to the the 75m Elands Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Mpumalanga. From my base at the Malaga Hotel I explored the village of Kaapsehoop. We then drove through back to Joburg via the Panorama Route with a stop-opver at Graskop and the Blyde River Canyon.
Malaga Hotel & Spa
The hotel is set on a lush green property on the banks of the Elands River. At check-in we were met by the General Manager manager, Werner Kasdorf, who gave us the history of the property.
Originally conceptualised as a halfway stop for people travelling from Maputo, the 52 room hotel, named after the Andalucian city of Malaga, was designed with a Spanish theme.
The hotel is under new management by The Boulevard Group, who recently completed a big refurbishment to give the hotel a more modern look and feel.
My room – a luxury suite – was spacious and bright with a large balcony overlooking the manicured gardens. The room was definitely one of the biggest I’ve stayed in at a 3 star hotel. The only thing missing for me was a bar fridge.
In the afternoon, my friend and I had a booking at the hotel spa for a full body massage. As soon as we entered the therapy room, it started to rain outside. The sound of the raindrops on the roof were a soothing soundtrack to our massage. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep on the massage bed 🙂 What a great way to start to our weekend break!
After a much needed post-massage nap, we headed to the dining room where we were spoilt with a delicious buffet. The fresh country air, relaxing massage and a super comfortable king sized bed were all I needed for slumber heaven.
Kaapsehoop – place of wild horses
The next morning we indulged in a massive buffet breakfast on the poolside terrace before our short drive to our Kaapsehoop daytrip. Kaapsehoop is a picturesque little village that is famous for its feral horses that roam freely. Driving into Kaapsehoop is an adventure in itself. Being so high up, the village is often shrouded in a blanket of mist! It was eerie but beautiful.
On our way into Kaapsehoop we spotted a small herd of wild horses grazing in the forest! Technically speaking they are feral horses and there area an estimated 150 – 180 of them n the area. The feral horses are remnants of the gold mining days, the Boer wars and the early cattle farmers. The herds vary between 8 – 12 with the mature stallion and matriarch mare.
The folks at Kaapsehoop Horse Trails treated us to a trail ride through the pine forest, grasslands and breathtaking escarpment views of the De Kaap Valley below. Kaapsehoop Trails has a herd of free-roaming cross-bred horses that it uses for trail rides. The horses were well-trained and well groomed, even my slightly nervous friend felt at ease.
My friend was a beginner so we took an easy, slow ride, even though I wanted to pick up the pace.Leon and Mariska made us feel really comfortable on the horses, and were full of interesting information on the area.
I love horse-riding. I feel so happy when I’m on horseback, I really should do it more often! I would love to go back for their 3 day Wilderness trail.
Werner, the hotel GM, was nice enough to pack us a picnic basket to go. The plan was to head to the nearby Berlin Falls for a picnic, but sadly the weather didn’t play along. Suddenly there was a cloud of mist and drizzle. With no rain gear, even our plans for a little walk to the escarpment viewpoint were thwarted.
Instead we ambled through the quaint Kaapsehoop village browsing antique stores. It was also rather chilly, so we warmed to a up with hot gluwein from at the Bohemian Groove Cafe, where we were treated to some live music.
Sunday is a really good day to visit Kaapsehoop as the village is buzzing with daytrippers and there’s a little Sunday market. We ended up taking our lovely picnic back to Malaga hotel, where we enjoyed it from our balcony.
Blyde River Canyon
On our way back to Joburg, we decided to take the scenic route back via the Panorama Route. We left Waterval Boven and headed to Graskop for a pancake lunch. Post lunch we hit up the Blyde River Canyon and the Three Ronadawels viewpoint. I have been here heaps of times but never get tired of this view!
It was so beautifiul I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt so blessed to call this incredible country home.
Thanks to Malaga Hotel for a wonderful weekend away. The staff and management at the hotel really went out of their way to make us feel at home. I was super impressed with the service and attention to detail. It really was a perfect little weekend trip from Jozi. If I had more time I would gave loved to do some hiking in the area.
The Malaga Hotel makes a great base for exploring the Panorama Route or a stopover to Kruger or Maputo. With large gardens, a games room, volleyball and a play facilites the hotel is well suited for families. With its close proximity to Nelspruit and conference facilities, the hotel is also geared up for the business tourist.
Malaga Hotel – www.malaga.co.za Ph: 013 257 5300