Breathtaking views, plunging waterfalls, eagles flying above you and a rich history, quite literally, as it includes the gold rush years, are the kinds of things you better get used to when you visit the Panorama Route.
‘Guarded’ by the small town of Graskop, this famous route is home to mountains, forests and canyons, most notably, the Blyde River Canyon which is also world’s largest ‘green canyon’.
The awe-inspiring Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls and Mac Mac Falls are just a short drive away. As are scenic landmarks such as Wonder View, the Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Three Rondavels and God’s Widndow, where you can walk in the thick, indigenous mist forest that stands amongst the clouds some 800m above Blyde River Canyon.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes are an unusual geological formation and well worth the visit. These giant potholes formed at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur rivers and mark the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon.
While you’re there, why not add some historical romance to the mix? A short 30-minute drive from Graskop will take you to the gold rush town of Pilgrim’s Rest where you can relive the 1873 gold rush in surroundings of unparalleled beauty. You can even try your hand at panning for gold.
On top of the scenic beauty and historical learnings found on the Panorama Route, you will also experience a wealth of plant and animal life in the region, including Klipspringers, Dassies, Grey Rhebuck, Oribi, Kudu, bushbuck, bushpigs, monkeys, bushbabies, Chacma baboons, Black-Backed jackals and many specied of birdlife, including resident pairs of nesting eagles that might well look you in the eye.
Some of the Panorama Route’s lesser-known, but no less fascinating attractions, are clustered around Ohrigstad where the Echo Caves extend 40km into the limestone rock. At Ohrigstad Dam Reserve, you can fish for yellowtail or carp in tranquil waters surrounded by mountains, an ideal refuge from the crowds in peak season.
How to get here
If you are driving from Johannesburg, join the N12 towards eMalahleni (Witbank) and head for Mbombela (Nelspruit), then come north. You can also come via the N4. The Panorama Route is also accessible by shuttle and long-distance bus.
Best time to visit
Between May and August is the best time to visit for game-viewing because the vegetation is less dense, making sightings more frequent.
Around the area
While in this area, a visit to the nearby Kruger National Park is a must.
The best way to get around the Panorama Route is by car and, in selected areas, on foot.
Length of stay
A weekend will suffice for a quick look around but plan to stay at least a week to do justice to the region.
Where to stay
There is a wide range of accommodation options in this area from backpackers to campsites, caravan parks, self-catering, B&Bs, guest houses, lodges and hotels. Contact one of the local tourism offices (for example in Graskop, Sabie or Hazyview) for more information.