The Panorama Route, Mpumalanga

Enjoy South Africa's most dramatic scenery
The Blyde River Canyon. © GFDL
On the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, with its breathtaking vistas around every mountain corner, waterfalls plunging down faces of sheer rock, memories of the gold rush following you as you meander down an endless river canyon, and eagles hovering above your head – you can't help walking with your head in the clouds.

Did you know?

The Blyde River Canyon's lush subtropical foliage makes it the world's largest 'green canyon'.

One breathtaking view after another – that's South Africa's famous Panorama Route, where you'll experience mountains, sky, forests and the truly impressive Blyde River Canyon, one of the world's largest canyons.

The small town of Graskop is the gateway to the Panorama Route. It's a good place to set up base. Scenic landmarks with evocative names like God's Window, Wonder View, the Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels beckon. The awe-inspiring Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls and Mac Mac Falls are also just a short drive away. Adding some historical romance into the mix, half an hour's drive from Graskop, the goldrush town of Pilgrim's Rest gives you the chance to relive the 1873 goldrush in surroundings of unparalleled beauty. You can even try your hand at panning for gold.

From Graskop, head on to the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. Thread your way along the clifftops 800 metres above the Blyde River Canyon, and at God's Window, be sure to walk in the thick, indigenous mist forest that's often among the clouds.

The Bourke's Luck Potholes are also well worth a visit. These giant potholes have formed at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur rivers and mark the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon.

Although the visual element dominates on the Panorama Route, all your senses are enriched by the wealth of plant and animal life that the region supports. Mammals you might see along the Panorama Route include klipspringer, dassies, grey rhebuck, oribi, kudu, bushbuck, bushpig, monkeys, bushbabies, chacma baboons and black-backed jackals.

This area is also rich in birdlife including 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. Echo Caves extend for 40km into the rock, a limestone fairyland. At Ohrigstad Dam Reserve you can fish for yellowtail or carp on tranquil waters surrounded by mountains, an ideal refuge from the crowds in peak season.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mpumalanga Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300
Email: info@mtpa.co.za

How to get here

If you are driving from Johannesburg, join the N12 towards Witbank and head for Nelspruit, then come north. You can also come via the N4. The Panorama Route is also accessible by shuttle and long-distance bus.

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.