The Panorama Route is a very scenic road; adjacent to Kruger National Park; in the Mpumalanga province in South Africa. It is centered around the Blyde River Canyon which is the world’s third-largest canyon.
Starting at the foot of the Long Tom Pass and ending at the border of the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces; near Echo Caves. There are viewpoints all along the route offering excellent views of the Blyde River Canyon and the river below. The views are usually best (clearer) in the dry, wintertime (between May to September).
Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Where the Blyde River (River of Joy) and Treur River (River of sorrow) meet; grit and rocks have ground out the amazing Bourke’s Luck Potholes. These potholes are cylindrical rock formations that were shaped millions of years ago; with the strange swirl holes developing as the river carried away masses of sand and debris.
Just outside the town of Graskop is God’s Window, a fissure in the mountainside that reveals the rocky escarpment and the Lowveld, with views of Kruger National Park and Mozambique in the distance. Wonder View is the highest viewpoint on the Panorama Route and is 1.3 km north of God’s Window.
At the Three Rondavels viewpoint (also called The Three Sisters) is an unforgettable view of three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Rondavel is a South African word that refers to a round hut dwelling, usually with a thatched roof. The tops of the Three Rondavels resemble native huts.
The Lisbon Falls are the highest waterfall in the area at 92 meters. There are many other waterfalls such as Lone Creek Falls, Berlin Falls, Panorama Falls, and also Mac Mac Falls. Some of these have naturally formed pools where a refreshing swim after a hot day of sightseeing is a welcome respite.
Other well-known sites to see on the Panorama Route include Echo Caves, Sudwala Caves, Pinnacle Rock as well as Mac Mac Pools.
Towns along the Panorama Route worth visiting
Winding roads and mountain passes lead to the historic and unspoiled gold mining village of Pilgrims Rest. The town captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold. Pilgrims Rest is a picturesque and historic village that is now a National Monument. There are several museums in town. Gold panning tours are also available.
Graskop is a small forestry town that is perched on the edge of the Drakensberg* escarpment. It is a great base for exploring the Panorama Route because all the attractions are only a short distance away. The narrow, winding road between Graskop and Pilgrims Rest is incredibly scenic.
*The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) with the main peaks actually in the Kwa-Zulu Natal section.
There are lots of activities on offer such as white water rafting, kloofing, abseiling, wilderness trails, and fly fishing.