Water’s power to shape a landscape is spectacularly displayed at Bourke’s Luck Potholes in Mpumalanga, where centuries of river activity have carved out a dramatic and intricate series of natural rock formations and pools.

Did you know?

The Blyde River translates to 'River of Joy', while the Treur River translates to 'River of Sorrow'.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes in Mpumalanga province are a series of natural geological formations that seem nearer to art than nature. Formed by centuries of water flowing through the landscape, this natural attraction is made up of inter-connected pools, interlaced with sandstone outcrops.

The potholes occur where the Treur River joins the Blyde River at the start of the Blyde River Canyon. In a continuing and centuries-old spectacle, the force of the water in these two rivers, combined with the particles of sand and rock that the rivers' transport, wears cylindrical potholes into the sandstone bedrock.

Over time, some of these potholes merge and new ones form, creating an intricate landscape of deep depressions and outcrops of resistant rock.

Visitors can view the potholes from a number of vantage points and bridges that criss-cross some of the most beautiful formations. Not only are the shapes of the formations spectacular, but the sandstone is layered and coloured in shades of amber, taupe, ochre and brown, so depending on the soil content of the water, the river levels and the time of day, the landscape constantly changes.

These natural sculptures are named after a prospector, Tom Bourke, who hoped to find gold at this site. He was unsuccessful, but other prospectors had more luck in the area.

The Panorama Route, which encompasses Bourke's Luck Potholes as well as the dramatic vistas, waterfalls, hiking trails, historic sites and lush vegetation between the towns of Graskop and Ohrigstad, has many historic sites and natural attractions to explore.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency
Tel: +27 (0)13 753 3115
Email: info@mtpa.co.za

How to get here

The potholes are about 35km north of Graskop on the R532.

Around the area

Other iconic points along the Panorama Route include God's Window, Three Rondavels and the Blyde River Canyon itself.

Tours to do

You can visit Bourke's Luck Potholes as a stop on the Panorama Route, which stretches between the towns of Graskop and Ohrigstad. Once you arrive at the potholes, it's just a 700m walk down to the first viewing points.

What's happening

There is an informative visitors' centre at Bourke's Luck Potholes, which shares the area's interesting natural and socio-cultural history. There are also two short walking trails that start at the visitors' centre.

Best buys

There are a number of crafters who sell their handmade goods at the entrance to Bourke's Luck Potholes.