Bourke's Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

If you ever find yourself Mpumalanga, make a point at popping in at these spots.

The Sudwala Caves 

Set in Precambrian dolomite rock first laid down about 3.8 billion years ago, when Africa was still part of Gondwana, the caves formed about 240 million years ago. 

There are a number of speleothem structures in the cave, known by names such as the “Lowveld Rocket” and the “Screaming Monster”. 

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There are also microbial fossils of collenia, a cyanobacterium in the rock, formed 2 billion years ago. The caves were used for shelter in prehistoric times, probably due to a constant supply of fresh air from an unknown source in the caves. 

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

This geological feature is at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde Rivers.

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Sustained kolks in the Treur River’s plunge pools have eroded a number of cylindrical potholes or “giant’s kettles”. It was named after a local prospector, Tom Bourke, who predicted the presence of gold, though he found none himself. 

Pedestrian bridges connect the various overlooks of the potholes and the gorge downstream. 

The Three Rondavels

These three rondavel-like round, grass-covered mountain tops with somewhat pointed peaks have names commemorating a 19th century chief, Maripi, and three of his wives.

The flat-topped peak adjacent to the rondavels is Mapjaneng, “the chief”, remembered for opposing invading Swazis in a battle. 

The three rondavels are named for three of his more troublesome wives: Magabolle, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto. Behind the rondavels the distant high plateau of Mariepskop may be visible.

Beside the dam, Thabaneng hill is known as the “sundial” or “mountain with a shadow that moves”, allegedly indicating the time of day.