Did you know?
The Three Rondavels are at the beginning (or end) of the spectacular Blyde River Canyon drive.
Once known as the Three Sisters, the geological formations known today as The Three Rondavels, are one of the many natural highlights along Mpumalanga's Panorama Route.
South Africans know the rondavel as a traditional beehive-shaped hut built and used over centuries by indigenous people as their homes. If you've been or plan to go to the Kruger National Park, you'll know that some camp accommodation is in rondavels.
The Three Rondavels are spectacular peaks which look exactly like rondavels – round and fat, rising to a peaked top, but much, much higher than any traditional dwelling. In fact, when you stand on the viewpoint, 1 380m above sea level with the Blyde River Canyon below, you'll still be looking up at those three distinctive peaks which tower 700m above the surrounding countryside.
These three geological formations were also once known as 'The Chief and his Three Wives'. The flat-topped peak was named Mapjaneng ('the chief') after a legendary Bapedi chief, Maripi Mashile, who defeated invading Swazis in a great battle near here. The three peaks are named after his three wives (from left to right) – Magabolie, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto.
How were these magnificent mountains formed? Apparently erosion wore away the soft underlying stone, leaving exposed slate and quartzite that shape these dramatic rock formations.
Be surefooted at the viewpoint, especially as there's no rail, and then just drink in the dramatic view with the canyon and the Blyde River dam way below you. Expect spectacular African sunsets if you're there as the sun goes down.
Don’t miss other natural wonders on the Panorama Route such as Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window, aptly named for its spectacular views.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0) 13 759 5300/01
Fax: +27 (0) 13 755 3928
How to get here
Take the R532 from Graskop to the Blyde River Canyon that begins at Bourke’s Luck Potholes and ends at the Three Rondavels.
Best time to visit
Summer (October to March) is best because the dry conditions mean no clouds so you’ll get excellent views. But it's lovely to visit this area at any time of year.
Around the area
From Graskop, the Panorama Route takes in the Pinnacle, God's Window, Wonder View, Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Lowveld View and the Three Rondavels, before returning to Graskop.
It's best to drive yourself, as you can then decide how long you want to spend at each scenic point. You could also hire a guide or do a guided tour of the Panorama Route.
What will it cost
There is a small fee per car to enter the Three Rondawels lookout point.
Length of stay
An hour or so for the Three Rondavels, but if you want to drive the whole Panorama Route allow a full day for a leisurely drive along its 130km length.
What to pack
Binoculars, camera, sunscreen and a hat.
What to eat
This is an ideal place for a picnic. You'll need to pack your own, as you can't buy anything to eat at the lookout point. Bring your own water, too, as it can be hot in this area, even in winter.
There are many curio sellers along the Panorama Route. Be prepared to barter to reach your ideal price!