Did you know about the Graskop Gorge Lift in Mpumalanga? (Photo: Supplied)
If you're planning a trip through Mpumalanga, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the options of where to stay and what to do.
You can make your itinerary planning a little easier by taking a gander at the top tourism businesses honoured by the Lilizela Tourism Awards. The first provincial round concluded over the weekend in Mpumalanga, and lodges, hotels guesthouses, tour operators and more were honoured for their contribution to making South Africa the top tourist destination that it is.
The province is home to our biggest national park - Kruger - and is surrounded by more private game reserves, adventure activities and road trips like the Panorama Route that will make a visit one to remember.
These winners are worth an addition to your wild Mpumalanga holiday.
SEE: Lilizela Awards 2018: The 28 judges that will decide on SA's 'best of the best' in the tourism industry
Most Beautiful Site
The Graskop Gorge Lift is a new addition to the province's tourism offerings. This man-made marvel is built amid the immense natural beauty in the Graskop area of the Panorama Route. It gives visitors a chance to view the stunning landscape from a breathtaking height, as well as immerse themselves into the depths of the gorge to experience the walkways and waterfalls that hide at the mountains’ base.
Not only did Ngwenya Lodge win this category, it also won the 4-star category for best Self-Catering Shared Vacation. With six outdoor swimming pools, a mini golf course and viewing decks and hides that overlook the Crocodile River and Kruger Park, it's a great place stay and see game.
Top Tour Operator
Based in White River, Ntwanano Tours and Travel is a family-run business that can either take you on day tours to the Blyde River or the province's Geo Trail to discover the first traces of life on Earth, or you can organise a package tour through Kruger or taste wine on the Panorama route.
SEE: #FindYourEscape: Exploring the best of the Panorama Route
Self-catering Shared Vacation
Families and squads love self-catering accommodation, and if you're a big group doing your own thing, you'll want to check out either the 3-star winner Jackalberry Ridge for camping and glamping in the Greater Kruger, or the 1-star winner Graskop Holiday Resort, where you can get views of God's Window for budget prices.
These self-catering units more exclusive villas that can be wholly rented out, and with uber luxury. Valbonne Villa in Tomjachu Bush Retreat is the 5-star winner, Thaba Tsweni Lodge & Safaris in Blyde River Canyon is the 3-star winner and The Cycad Lodge and Chalets in Nelspruit is the 4-star winner.
Action and Adventure
If you want adrenaline, Lowveld Extreme Adventures raked in this win with their white water tubing, abseiling, paintball and other extreme activities in the Hazyview area.
Bed & Breakfast
When you want to wake up to a continental breakfast to fill up before your adventures, these Bed & Breakfast winners will get you started on the right foot. There's the 5-star winner Matumi Gold Lodge in Nelspruit, the 4-star Blue Jay Lodge in Hazyview and the 3-star La Picasso in Ermelo.
SEE: I went glamping and now I don’t want to camp any other way ever again
Caravan and Camping
Camping is a popular holiday in the nature of Mpumalanga, and if you're looking for a place to pitch your tent, these two campsites will set you up nicely. There's the Tented Adventures Pretoriuskop right in Kruger, and the Forever Badplaas Resort with their electricity camp sites and a spa.
Umsisi House is the ultimate luxury in the bush experience - set within the Jock of the Bushveld conservancy near the White River and Numbi Gate entrances of Kruger.
This category is for black-owned micro to medium-sized businesses in the tourism industry. The winner for Mpumalanga is Vomba Tours and Transfers based in Skukuza and will get you to where you want to go in the province.
WATCH: New gorge lift thrills thousands in Graskop + SA’s new attractions to check out
Tinstwalo raked in two wins for best game lodges - their Safari Lodge and Manor House in Manyeleti Game Reserve - and the other winner is Umlani Bush Camp in Timbavati Nature Reserve near Hoedspruit.
If you're looking for a smaller, more intimate accommodation experience, stay at one of these top guesthouses - Loerie's Call Guesthouse and La Roca Guesthouse in Nelspruit and the Selati 103 Guest Cottages in Malelane.
Hotels cater to your every need, and these hotels are Mpumalanga's best in their star rating categories:
- Akabeko Boutique Hotel (5 Star) in Lydenburg.
- Country Boutique Hotel (4 Star) in White River
- Fortis Hotel Malaga (3 star) in Elands River
- Town Lodge Mbombela (2 Star)
- Road Lodge Mbombela (1 star)
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