Highveld & Cosmos
The Highveld and Cosmos region of Mpumalanga covers a wide area of flat open high-altitude grassland interspersed with low undulating hills. Farming in this region is widespread, the main produce being maize with some cattle. In the late summer and autumn fields and hedgerows are covered with masses of pink and white Cosmos, an attractive wild flower that is officially considered a weed in South Africa but planted in many gardens none-the-less.
The region is the home to vast coal deposits and much of Mpumalanga's economy is a result of, or allied to, these. Coal is mainly gathered by open-cast mining, and there are numerous coal powered power stations which produce electricity for most of South Africa's needs. The coal deposits along with the plentiful supply of electricity have, in turn, attracted major industry to this part of the province. This can be seen in Secunda where there is a major oil-from-coal production facility along with its allied chemical industries. There are steel mills situated at Witbank and a few kilometres to the East in Middleberg there is a stainless steel plant.
Just outside Middleberg on a private farm adjoining the Olifants River there are two hiking trails. The Baboon trail is 30kms long and the Cycad trail is 18kms. Each trail lasts two days with overnight accommodation in two huts with wooden bunk beds. Not far from Middleberg on a smallholding near to Loskop dam is the Loskop Cheetah Sanctuary. There are more than 30 cheetah at Loskop, some wild and some tame. The sanctuary is situated 2 kms from the Loskop reserve on the road to Middleberg.
The 15000 ha Loskop Dam Nature Reserve is probably the Highveld and Cosmos region's more beautiful reserves. The reserve surrounds the 24 km long Loskop Dam on the Olifants River, and many animal species have been re-introduced into the area. Most species can be seen here including the white rhino, though the other big five are not represented. There is a public resort at Loskop where log cabins sleeping 3 to 5 may be rented. The resort offers a large area for camping and caravans. Several species of eagle may be seen over the high cliffs near to the dam.
In the north of the Highveld and Cosmos region of Mpumalanga lies the town of Marble Hall, and just outside the town is based the Lowveld Fisheries Research Station. The station covers 50 ha and contains about 50 small fish dams and ponds. Researchers study the feeding and breeding habits of fish in order to tabulate results and give advice to fish farmers on the best ways of obtaining maximum yields. Visitors are welcome to visit the station, which is open daily.