Eyewitness: Maryke Wassermann of Papierazzi in Mpumalanga in South Africa

Maryke Wassermann lives in Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa. Living north of KwaZulu-Natal and close to Swaziland and Mozambique, she lives in an area of outstanding beauty. 

She is understandably happiest when she has the time to explore the area ….

THE TOURISTIN: Three words that characterize Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: It's more like three ideas than three words, but here goes: Culturally diverse, panoramic and wild.

THE TOURISTIN: How do you get around Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: Most roads are tarred and can be accessed by your Group A rental vehicle. At the moment we explore with a fairly standard Hyundai i10, but we are looking forward to the day in the near future when we can take our vintage beetle on his first Mpumalanga road trip. I say he, 'cause he has been named Willempie.

THE TOURISTIN: What is the best kept secret about Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: Most tourists flock to Kruger National Park from the airport before jetting off to the Winelands, but they miss so much of what makes Mpumalanga unique from the other parts of South Africa.

You can experience the Highlands in Dullstroom, Grasslands and Wetlands of Chrissiesmeer, explore the Heritage Route with a township tour of Wesselton or even a visit to a traditional Swazi village (Ebutseni) at Oshoek near the Swaziland border, then swing by the Genesis Route at Barberton before making your way back to Blyde River Canyon (greenest Canyon in the world). That all without leaving the Province of Mpumalanga.

THE TOURISTIN: What is your favourite borough/suburb/area in Mpumalanga and why?

Maryke Wassermann: I am a bit prejudiced towards outdoorsy areas and would have to pick Sabie if I was only allowed to pick one place. It is the town with the highest concentration of waterfalls in South Africa, a mountain biking haven with some of the most gruelling ascents, a birder's paradise and a historical gem (or should I say precious metal). It is centrally located, has great accommodation to choose from and still has the feel of a small hamlet (not one traffic light in sight).

THE TOURISTIN: The best place for a hot chocolate or café in Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: If you are looking for a touristy feel: The Farm Stall at The Halls Gateway. But if you are looking for true South African flavour: Local coffee growers - Sabie Valley Coffee - situated on the road between Sabie and Hazyview is the place to be.

THE TOURISTIN: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: For ambience and service: The Glasshouse in Graskop.

For food from farm to fork: Summerfields Rose Spa and Restaurant.

For great curries: Kadai in Mbombela (Nelspruit).

THE TOURISTIN: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Maryke Wassermann: On an expedition to discover new sunrise/sunset spots OR enjoying a hike/mountain bike trail with my husband and daughter.

THE TOURISTIN: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: My absolute favourite would have to be the Dimitrov Art Gallery in Dullstroom, and a close second would be the White River Gallery at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre. If you are into wildlife, then the Elephant Museum at Olifants Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park is a must, and also the Rhino Museum at Alzu Reststop on the N4 from Johannesburg to Mbombela. And while I really enjoy art galleries, I do prefer to stick my nose into the treasures of bygone eras only to be found in second hand shops.

THE TOURISTIN: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes in the area?

Maryke Wassermann: I can't wait for the opening of the new Food Lover’s Market in Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), as we mainly enjoy a vegetarian diet, they stock great produce. I'm a functional kind of girl. Give me a t-shirt, Jeans and TOMY tekkies and you've got me smiling. I do however like scarves... A lot! And some of the most exquisite examples can be found at Perry's Bridge in Hazyview.

THE TOURISTIN: What souvenir shall we bring back from Mpumalanga?

Maryke Wassermann: Africa Joy at Casterbridge Lifestyle Center stock some lovely beadwork and crafts, all made locally. And African Silks has locally made silk products, even their own skincare range.

THE TOURISTIN: Thank you so much for your time. See you hopefully soon in South Africa.

Would you like to see more from Maryke? Jump onto her blog Papierazzi or follow her Instagram account. 

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