The Panorama Route in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is one of the countries most scenic driving routes. I grew up in this province, in a city called Nelspruit (Mbombela), and I have explored the Panorama Route several times which is why I thought I would share some of the top attractions this area has to offer.With so much to see along the Panorama Route, this area deserves at least two – three days in order to spend enough time at each attraction without rushing your experience.
These are the top attractions along the Panorama route:
1. Sudwala Caves
The Sudwala Caves are the oldest caves in the world and part of the Drakensburg escarpment, making this attraction well worth the visit. The caves themselves were formed about 240 million years ago. The stalagmites and stalactites grow 2.5cm every 100 years! The caves are dominated by a spectacular Amphitheater, which has over the years been a venue for musical entertainment. Imagine going to a music concert or having your wedding at the oldest caves in the world?! Entrance fee is R80 for pensioners, R100 for adults and R60 for children.
Directions to Sudwala Caves: Turn off the N4 onto the R539 and continue for about 10km until you see a Sudwala sign. Turn in, Cross over the bridge and follow the Signs. The caves are about 2km up a scenic winding road.
2. Graskop Gorge Lift
The Graskop Gorge Lift is centrally located on the Panorama Route and is an ideal stop over point, whether it be for the view, the forest, the various adventure activities, guided tours and hikes in the surrounding areas.
These are the 3 activities offered at the Graskop Gorge Lift Company:
The Gorge Lift
This is a fun experience that dips you down into the thick forest, where you can explore and be one with nature. Cost: R140 for children, R205 for adults, and R170 for pensioners.
The Big Swing
This activity offers an adrenaline rush like no other – and based on my other posts of my experiences in various countries, you should know that I live for adventure. I finally swung on on the world’s highest cable gorge swing! The initial free fall is only 3 seconds long but felt like a whole minute – I am very proud of myself for finally having the courage to do this activity alone. A few years ago I did it but together with a friend because I was too scared to swing alone. Cost: Single big swing is R450, and the tandem is R800 (for 2 people).
Please watch the video below of my Big Swing experience!
If you still want to get your heart racing but think the Big Swing is too extreme, you can fly across the Graskop Gorge on a 130m high-wire zip-line. This is an awesome way to take in the breathtaking views. Cost: R180pp.
3. God’s Window
God’s window is located 9.2km north of Graskop. This is one of the top attractions along athe Panorama Route and offers panoramic views of Lowveld. In the distance, you can even see as far as the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. Entrance fee is R20pp.
4. Bourke’s Luck Potholes
This natural water feature marks the beginning of The Blyde River Canyon. The potholes themselves are beautiful and you stand in awe of what nature can accomplish – definitely a must-visit along the Panorama Route.
5. Blyde River Canyon and The Three Rondavels
The 25km long Blyde River Canyon is the 3rd largest canyon in the world! It was formed by rivers cutting into the Drakensburg escarpment and eroding millions of tons of rock. The best views of the Blyde River Canyon can be seen form the view point, right next to the parking lot.
The Three Rondavels are right next to the Blyde River Canyon and can be seen from the same viewpoint. The word “Rondawel” is a South African word that refers to a round hut-like dwelling, usually with a thatched roof. These peaks are named after the 3 wives of Maripi Mashile. Entrance fee for both the Blyde River Canyon and The Three Rondavels is R35 for adults and R20 for children.
The Panorama Route also has the highest number of waterfalls in South Africa. These are the top waterfalls to visit while you are here:
1. Lone Creek Falls
The Lone Creek Falls are located in the small town of Sabie. A scenic short walk from the parking lot through the indigenous forest will lead you to this stunning 68m high waterfall. Entrance fee is R30pp. TIP: Because the road leading up to these waterfalls (from Sabie) is filled with potholes, I would suggest driving with a 4×4 vehicle.
2. Horseshoe Falls
These waterfalls are located on the old Lydenburg road, along the Sabie River. Although not very high, these unusual waterfalls are shaped like a horseshoe. Entrance fee is R10pp.
3. Lisbon Falls
These 94m high waterfalls are the highest and most dramatic in the Mpumalanga Province. Entrance fee is R15pp to the easily-accessible viewing deck at the top of the waterfall. In order to see the waterfall up-close, you need to pay an additional fee of R50pp and hike down a 2km trail (one way), with a guide.
4. Bridal Veil Falls
These falls are located just 6km outside of Sabie and resemble a bridal veil. They roar down from a spectacular height of 70m. Entrance fee is R15pp.
5. Berlin Falls
The Berlin falls are located close to the Lisbon Falls. These falls get their name from miners who ventured to South Africa from Europe during the gold rush. The Berlin falls drop 80m into a deep, dark pool. Entrance fee is R15pp.
6. Mac Mac Falls and Mac Mac Pools
This place offers a lovely spot for a picnic or a braai. You can swim in crystal clear, pure mountain spring water and enjoy the view of the 65m high Mac Mac Falls. Entrance fee is R30pp.
This post would not be complete without mentioning my favourite restaurant along the Panorama Route, Harries Pancakes which is in Graskop. Although, there are branches in other parts of South Africa like Dullstroom, Cullinan and Pretoria. This restaurant is like no other – whether you enjoy sweet or savoury pancakes, they definitely have the perfect one for you!
The menu at Harries Pancakes offers a variety of options – from banana in caramel sauce, dark chocolate mouse and milk tart custard, chicken livers, Dutch bacon, to mushroom with cashew nuts and more!
I hope this post has convinced you to visit the Panorama Route the next time you are in Mpumalanga, South Africa!
Thank you for reading,