In 1849 a group of Voortrekkers led by Andries Hendrik Potgieter settled in the fertile valley situated at the foot of the Long Tom Pass beside the Sterkspruit/Dorps River tributary of the Olifants River. The settlement, located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa and surrounded by the magnificent Steenkampsberg and Mauchsberg mountain ranges, became known as Lydenburg.
The name of the town, derived from Dutch, means 'Town of Suffering'. This might sound like a strange name for such a scenic area but it was thus named because Potgieter and his followers were desperately trying to escape from a serious malaria outbreak that was ravaging their proud community in their previous settlement. These days, absolutely nothing in the lovely town and its spectacular surrounds evokes thoughts of suffering – in fact, it's quite the opposite! Lydenburg is a truly amazing and immensely pleasurable tourism experience enjoyed by tourists from South Africa and all around the world.
Lydenburg is heaven on earth for the nature lovers and outdoor junkies among us and an absolute must-see on any visit to Mpumalanga. Besides the Sterkspruit and Dorps River, the Doringbergspruit and the Klipgatspruit rivers also grace the area, making Lydenburg one of the top fly-fishing destinations in South Africa. There are challenging 4X4 routes and hiking trails aplenty to keep avid adventurers happy and its superb location, a mere 290km from Pretoria, makes it the ideal point from which to explore the province's many other wonderful tourist attractions, including the picturesque Panorama Route (boasting the unmatched beauty of the Blyde River Canyon and God's Window) and the world-famous Kruger National Park – South Africa's premier game-viewing experience.
An extremely popular attraction in the area is the breathtaking Lydenburg Waterfall. This spectacular 'waterfall' actually consists of three separate waterfalls – two waterfalls plunging into a pristine pool below them which feeds a third waterfall.
The Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve bordering Lydenburg is home to a wealth of fascinating wildlife and birdlife, and also to an extremely interesting historical attraction: An enjoyable 5km hike through the park leads to the site of some truly amazing Stone Age ruins, complete with living quarters and farming terraces – an insight into the lives of those who called this stunning landscape home before we did.
The earliest known form of African sculpture in southern Africa was found in the Lydenburg area, dating back to about 490 AD. Stunning Plaster of Paris replicas of these fascinating finds, the Lydenburg Heads, can be viewed at the Lydenburg Museum – yet another superb attraction not to be missed in Lydenburg.