When I got the email inviting me to Mpumalanga to stay at the newly refurbished Malaga Hotel, it took me about three seconds to reply “yes please”. Okay, make that two. I mean, I didn’t need that much time to figure out that I could do with a weekend away with gorgeous surrounds, and where I could be as busy or as idle as I wanted.
I’ve been to the Waterval Boven area a few times, and it’s a really pretty location. Malaga is about 20km from the town of Waterval Boven, on the banks of the Elands River, and about a three-hour drive from Joburg (useful tip: there’s a Vida Coffee shop and some great biltong at the Shell Garage on the way, in Middelberg).
Malaga can either be used as a stopover for trips to the Kruger Park or elsewhere in Mpumalanga, but with a resort-type feel and facilities, plus excursions and activities in the area, it’s a great destination on its own. You won’t find fancy frills and unaffordable rates here, and it’s a place that’s accessible, rather than aspirational.
Malaga is awesome for kids and parents. For starters, it’s in a malaria-free area, and there are spacious and comfortable family suites. The gardens are huge (amazing for hide and seek, and bird spotting), and there’s a pool, loungers, jungle gym and hammocks. Food is fresh, simple and tasty with lots of options for fussier eaters.
What did we get up to? Well, I read 3/4 of my new book, had an afternoon nap (newsworthy in itself), ran, ate and visited Ou Kaapsehoop. We also went on a rock climbing excursion, where my five-year-old son took to it like a mountain goat. He absolutely loved it, and I think this might be the start of more visits to the area.
As for me, while I didn’t soar a rockface, I’m still on a high from some country air, time with my little dude, and a place that begged for relaxation and being disconnected in the best way.
Cool things to do in the area:
– Visit the Elands River Falls
– See the wild horses or go for rides at Ou Kaapsehoop, or simply visit the lovely town
– Go mountain biking and trail running on set trails (the hotel has details of all of these)
– Go abseiling or rock climbing (we went on a climbing excursion with Roc n Rope)
– Visit the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre (around 43km away). While you’re there, you can also shop in the area, or stock up on trout and some of the best macadamia nuts I’ve ever eaten.
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