The Abel Erasmus Pass leads from Limpopo into Mpumalanga along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon, and is the gateway to the Panorama Route. From the Olifants River Valley, the Abel Erasmus Pass climbs up lichen-clad mountain slopes in a dizzying series of bends and curves.

Did you know?

The tufa waterfall that you see along the Abel Erasmus Pass is the second highest tufa waterfall in the world.

The Abel Erasmus Pass is a scenic mountain road that links the game reserves of Limpopo to Mpumalanga's spectacular Blyde River Canyon.

The pass is an extraordinary feat of engineering and takes you through the 133m JG Strijdom Tunnel. The tunnel was opened in 1959 but the actual route that the Abel Erasmus Pass follows was first used by gold rush pioneers in the late 1800’s.

If you look up the northern side of the tunnel you will see an unusual tufa waterfall that plunges down the rock face. Tufa waterfalls are formed when water running over dolomite rock absorbs calcium and deposits rock formations as layers of tufa on the surface of the waterfall – a process that occurs over millions of years. The waterfall continues to flow underneath a hard outer shell.

Known as the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall, this is the tallest tufa waterfall in Africa and is also known as 'the weeping face of nature' because it resembles a crying face.

There is parking lot at the Strijdom Tunnel where you can stop to browse through curios, arts and crafts, and take a photograph of the view of the Olifants River below as it cuts its way towards the Kruger National Park.

From here the R36 continues towards Mpumalanga, marking the start of the Panorama Route – a scenic drive that leads to Sabie, via either Graskop or Orighstad, along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon.

The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon on Earth, after the USA's Grand Canyon and Namibia's Fish River Canyon. It's also the largest green canyon in the world – the Blyde River Canyon is over 26km long and averages 800m deep.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Limpopo Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)15 293 3600
Email: info@golimpopo.com

Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300/01
E-mail: info@mtpa.co.za

How to get here

From the town of Hoedspruit, take the R36 signposted as Orighstad/Lydenberg toward the Abel Erasmus Pass.

Around the area

Check out the bushveld town of Hoedspruit in Limpopo, which is a gateway to the Kruger National Park and many game and wilderness areas. Also visit Graskop, in Mpumalanga, famed for its pancakes, mountain views and arts & crafts.

Length of stay

The Abel Erasmus Pass is an easy day trip between Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Where to stay

If you're in Limpopo province, head for the Hoedspruit area, which has many bushveld escapes, private game lodges and wilderness getaways. If you're in Mpumalanga, the closest town is Graskop, which has loads of guesthouses and B&Bs. The Graskop Hotel is a funky and affordable overnight stop.

What to eat

Harrie's Pancakes in Graskop is a popular spot, serving pancakes with savoury and sweet fillings. Also in Graskop, Kannimambo is a Mozambican restaurant, serving prawns, calamari and trinchado.

Best buys

In Hoedspruit, visit the the Kamagelo Tourism Centre, which has interesting craft shops, art galleries and places to buy curios.