The Panorama Route

The Panorama Route The Panorama Route is a geological extension of the Drakensberg

A popular add-on to Kruger safaris but also well worth exploring in its own right, the Panorama Route is a loose circuit of mostly natural attractions associated with the towering cliffs that divide the highveld around Sabie and Graskop from the lowveld of the Kruger Park and Mpumalanga’s provincial capital Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit). A scenic and ecologically-varied region, its defining feature is the Mpumalanga Escarpment, a geological extension of the Drakensberg that rises sharply from the coastal plain (below 500m) to several peaks that top the 2,000 m mark. Although much of the region is given over to exotic plantations, significant tracts of indigenous forest remain, especially on steep cliffs, as do several areas of grassland studded with proteas and red-hot pokers. The region is notable historically as the site of South Africa’s earliest gold rush, one that proved to be short lived, as far richer seams of gold were discovered soon after in the vicinity of Johannesburg.

Highlights

african finfoot bird tour south africa panorama route The African finfoot

Well worth a stop if you pass through Mbombela, the 169 ha Lowveld National Botanical Garden, set on the confluence of the Nels and Crocodile Rivers, is of equal interest to botanists and ornithologists. The rainforest section protects a vast collection of prehistoric cycads, while a bird checklist of 250 species includes Purple-crested turaco, Half-collared kingfisher and African finfoot.

Mac Mac Falls along the panorama route south africa Mac Mac Falls

This 65 m Mac-Mac Falls is named after a pair of Scottish prospectors who camped above it in the gold rush era. You can swim in the pool at the base of the falls, or continue by car for 2 km to the start of a 4 km day-trail to the little-visited Forest Falls. otherworldly potholes of bourkes luck Natural potholes at Bourke’s Luck

Situated at the confluence of the Blyde (Joy) and Treur (Sorrow) rivers, the bizarre riverine formation known as Bourke’s Luck comprise a series of deep cylindrical potholes created entirely by water erosion, and can be explored along a short network of paths and footbridges.

The Panorama Route_Blyde River Canyon Blyde River Canyon

The 25 km-long and 1.4 km-deep red sandstone Blyde River Canyon, protected within a 270 km2 nature reserve, is one of the largest and most spectacular features of its type on earth. It offers much to keen walkers and wildlife lovers, with the most rewarding of several day hikes being the Kadishi Trail, which leads through lush indigenous evergreen forest, inhabited by Vervet and Blue monkeys, to an impressive stalactite-like Tufa waterfall. Look out for localised and endemic birds such as Knysna turaco, Narina trogon, Southern bald ibis, Cape vulture and Gurney’s sugarbird.

One of the most scenic spots anywhere in South Africa, the Three Rondavels viewpoint gazes across the wide Blyde River Canyon – the river itself a blue ribbon hundreds of metres below – to a striking trio of outcrops that recall traditional thatched rondavels (round houses).

The dank, cool chambers of the Sudwala Caves support some wonderful limestone drip formations and can be explored on regular guided tours that lead about 500 m deep into the subterranean labyrinth.

pilgraims rest panorama route The Royal Hotel in Prilgrim’s Rest

Pilgrim’s Rest mushroomed into life in 1873 following the discovery of a large deposit of alluvial gold. The boomtown’s heyday was short lived, but it was later restored as a living museum evoking the gold rush era. Points of interest include the Anglican Church (built in 1884), the Methodist Church (1911), Catholic Church (1928), Old Police Station (1902), and the hilltop cemetery whose graves all point in the same direction, the one exception being an anonymous Robber’s Grave.

The Panorama Route_Gods Window God’s window offers heavenly views

The finest of several viewpoints offering views along the R532, God’s Window offers a splendid view over the edge of the escarpment to the expansive lowveld more than 1,000m below, though its impact depends on very clear weather.

The tallest single-drop waterfall in the region, the twin-stream Lisbon Falls plunges over a 90m stone amphitheater whose base is accessible via a steep footpath.

Travel tips

  • The main air gateway to Mpumalanga is Kruger-Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA), which stands about 25 km northeast of Mbombela off the R40 to White River. It is connected to Gauteng’s OR Tambo International Airport by several scheduled flights daily, there are also direct flights from Durban and Cape Town, and several car rental companies are represented there.

  • For couples or families, it may well be more affordable to rent a car out of Gauteng and drive, following the N4 east from Pretoria to Mbombela, or the N12 from Johannesburg/OR Tambo to connect with the N4 at eMalahleni (formerly Witbank). The drive takes 3-5 hours, depending on your ultimate destination.

  • Self-drivers could visit most sites along the Panorama Route in one day, but two would be better. A good variety of hotels and lodges are available in Mbombela as well as smaller towns such as Hazyview, Sabie and Graskop.


Our Recommended Itinerary

South African holiday adventure

day 1 to 4

Welcome to Cape Town

day 5 to 6

Explore the Cape Winelands

day 7 to 10

Track the Big Five in KwaZulu-Natal

day 11

Goodbye - for now!

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

South Africa in November

You can expect thundershows in the Kruger during November Johannesburg and the Highveld is hot by day, cool at night and receives regular rainfall often in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. Cape Town and the Western Cape is hot by day, cooler at night, and dry. The Kruger Park and surrounds is hot by day, warm at night, and dry. November is an ideal time for beach holidays…

Birding safari holidays in South Africa

The narina trogon in iSimangaliso Wetland Park South Africa is a superb bird watching destination. The national checklist comprises around 840 species, and includes the world’s largest bird (ostrich) and what is reputedly its bulkiest flying species (kori bustard) along with a dazzling variety of birds of prey, ranging from the largely terrestrial secretary-bird to the charismatic…

Medical requirements for South Africa

Malaria is absent from most parts of South Africa, and it is nowhere as prevalent as it is in much of equatorial Africa. Exceptions are the eastern lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, which is classified as a moderate-risk malarial area, and coastal KwaZulu-Natal north of Richard’s Bay, which is regarded to be low risk. Transmission is more-or-less confined to the rainy summer months.…

South Africa in March

The Golden oriole travels from Asia to South Africa in March Johannesburg and the highveld is warm and mild by day, cool at night and receives occasional rainfall often in the late afternoon. Cape Town and the Western Cape starts cooling down with regular windy spells, cooler evenings and crisp early mornings. The Kruger Park and surrounds is still hot during the day, cooling down at…

Value-for-money holiday in South Africa

A self-drive adventure helps to keep costs down An excellent option for those who want to travel in reasonable comfort whilst keeping down costs is to self-drive some or all of the time. Rental cars can be arranged in all major centres (as well as at all airports) and roads are generally up to international standards, though potholes are increasingly prevalent in smaller towns. The…

Big Five safari holidays in South Africa

The most elusive of the Big Five; the leopard will drag its prey high up into the trees to escape scavengers For many first time visitors to Africa, a top priority is ticking off the so-called Big Five: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. South Africa offers many excellent opportunities to do this, and it is the easiest place in Africa to see rhinos, since it supports more than…

Popular South Africa Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Mauritius and South Africa honeymoon safari

Mauritius and South Africa honeymoon safari

Start your trip in South Africa and finish in Mauritius. Experience the stunning beaches and the Big Five in the Phinda Private Game Reserve. ...

 | Cape Town, Winelands & Kruger Luxury Journey (SA 9 days)

Cape Town, Winelands and Kruger Park Journey

Experience Cape Town, the lush Cape Winelands and a safari in the Kruger National Park and you'll fall under South Africa's spell...

 | 5 Day Greater Kruger & Sabi Sands safari

5 Day Greater Kruger & Sabi Sands safari

Enjoy an authentic African safari. Game viewing possibilities are unparalleled and include the Big Five in the Sabi Sands and white lions in the Timbavati Nature Reserve....

 | Nature, Romance, Exclusivity and Luxury - A Complete African Honeymoon

Nature, Romance, Exclusivity and Luxury - A Complete African Honeymoon

This exclusive African honeymoon through East and Southern Africa is the perfect way to celebrate the start of your new journey together...

 | 15-day Kruger, Cape Town, Mauritius Bush and Beach safari

15-day Kruger, Cape Town, Mauritius Bush and Beach safari

Spend your days discovering the fine beaches of Cape Town, enjoying the remarkably untamed wilderness of the Kruger National Park and swimming the pristine beaches of Mauritius....

 | Two weeks in South Africa - a luxury rail safari

Two weeks in South Africa - a luxury rail safari

Experience the best that South Africa has to offer: it's white-sand beaches, lush green wine-lands and find the Big Five wildlife in the Kruger National Park. ...

 | Affordable Cape Town, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls Luxury Safari (10 days)

Affordable Cape Town, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls Luxury Safari (10 days)

Visit the most popular destinations in Southern Africa on this luxury tour for the budget-conscious...

 | Midlands meander in South Africa

Midlands meander in South Africa

Explore the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal...

 | Garden Route safari adventure

Garden Route safari adventure

Discover one of South Africa’s best kept secrets - the Garden Route...

 | Walking the Wild Coast of South Africa

Walking the Wild Coast of South Africa

Designed to offer a traditional hiking experience, but without the heavy bags, this "slackpacking" adventure is great for small groups or families. ...

Ready to start your adventure?

Your tailor-made African holiday starts here...

How can we get hold of you?

How many people will be travelling?

Details

Please tell us more about your travel plans?


Discover Africa Group needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy.

Submitting your inquiry

Thank you, your enquiry has been received

Thank you, your enquiry has been received

Reference:

 +27 21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    8AM - 5PM GMT+2