Travel Dreams – The Panorama Route of South Africa and All Its Beauty
Growing up in Cape Town, I was blessed with a beautiful environment. Table Mountain is exquisite and the great stretches of wine farms could make any person envious. I spent holidays travelling up the West Coast to places like Langebaan and Paternoster or down the Garden Route.
Wilderness is one of my favourite places in the world because it has trees and ocean for days. I love trees! Forests and woodlands are my ideas of peace.
Recently I was in Tzaneen, a town in Limpopo filled with life. It is home to our best farms, rich in space. They grow bananas, mangos, litchis, avocados and so much more there. Living in the North of Johannesburg, Limpopo isn’t too far but the N1 getting there is one of the more dangerous roads to travel so my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a trip home via the Panorama Route.
We travelled from Tzaneen to Mpumalanga and stopped at a few of the sights along the way. The road towards the Panorama Route is very busy in terms of animals wandering the roads. We saw cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys along the way. This donkey was in the middle of the road as we drove up towards the Abel Erasmus Pass on the R36. We slowed down and he moved over to the side of the road and gave us an annoyed stare.
The terrain had gone from luscious green to dry grassland in a matter of minutes. We then crossed through the Pass and started heading upwards. We made a quick stop at the Big Shoe near Echo Caves before taking the R532 towards Mpumalanga.
As soon as you cross the border from Limpopo to Mpumalanga, you arrive at the first of many stops along the way…
Blyde River Canyon & The Three Rondavels.
This is the very first stop along the Panorama Route. It is one of the most photographed areas along the route. So here is a little fun fact, you need to have cash on you to stop at all these places. We made the mistake of not drawing money before leaving Tzaneen and so had a rude awakening driving to the gate.
It costs R30.00 per person to enter and let me tell you, the nearest ATM is in Graskop (about 2 hours drive away). Thankfully, the guy on duty gave us a freebie and waved us through. He saved the whole trip, to be honest.
Many people have asked me about the hike to get to the viewpoint and really, it is the easiest stop. The parking is right by the pathway and you just walk along it right to the edge.
The first sight to see is the Three Rondavels. We happened to go on a very overcast day so it was a little tough to get crisp images as you see everywhere.
There is a second path that veers off to the left and this is will lead you to the Blyde River Canyon. Once again it is an easy path to walk.
It was fairly busy so getting a perfect picture without having another person in it takes some patience but thankfully, everyone was mindful of this and once you got your snap, you moved out the way and along the path.
The next stop on the map is the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Sadly, as we didn’t have any cash, so we had to skip this one. It was R63.00 per person and the lady at the gate was not as helpful as the previous gentleman.
At this point, we decided to drive into Graskop for some lunch and cash and then head back to the sights.
Graskop is a small little town, we didn’t venture too far in. I was getting a little grumpy because I was hungry so we stopped at the Canimambo Restaurant. It is a little Portuguesegese/Mozambiquan place and let me just tell you, the food was phenomenal.
I ordered two starters, a Kale Soup with spicy Chorizo and a Beef Trinchado. They were flavour packed and well worth a stop. After lunch, we drew some cash and set back up the road to God’s Window.
The sun started making an appearance as we head back up towards God’s Window. I was a little unprepared for this stop. You need to be wearing sensible shoes, not strappy sandals like I was. It cost R17.00 per person to enter the area and requires a fair bit of strenuous walking… for the unfit, that is.
I am disastrously unfit, to be honest, so had to be dragged up to the top. Sadly, most of the vegetation on the mountaintop was burnt to a crisp as there had been a fire recently. With all the foliage gone, you could see all the litter scattered between the bushes. Glass bottles and beer cans were all that remained. Heartbreaking to witness!
To get to God’s Window, you need to walk through a small forest, over a few slipery rocks (hence the sensible shoes comment) and then all of a sudden it breaks open to this small rock outpost that looks over a valley as far as the eye can see. It is a tight squeeze up there and somewhat unnerving being so close to such a sharp drop.
I tried to get a few pictures but my anxiety kicked in with all those people around me. Coupled with my fear of heights, I got off the rocks and back into the safety of the forest.
Back in the parking lot, there are a number of curio stands so we took some time browsing them and I bought a beautiful wooden board to serve things on. I expect to share it here sometime soon.
Once our shopping was over, we jumped back in the car and set off to our hotel at Pilgrim’s rest. I will save that for another post as it is far too much information to share here. That post will also have information about our stop at Mac-Mac Falls so stay tuned.
So in summary, take cash, wear sensible shoes and have a little patience. It is something so spectacular and while we managed to get most of it done in a day, I would advise doing the sightseeing over a longer period, taking more time at each site. We will be going back because it didn’t feel like we really got to soak it all in.
With My Love,