A Guide to South Africa's Panorama Route
Road Trip Travel
The Panorama Route lies within South Africa's Lowveld region. There is an abundance to do in this area, from hiking and waterfall-watching to safaris. It truly has it all. This route is best enjoyed as a road trip or as a self-driven holiday. The scenic Panorama Route in South Africa's Mpumalanga Province includes numerous cultural, historical and natural points of interest. The route is centered around the world's third-largest and greenest canyon, The Blyde River Canyon, and is located in South Africa's largest forested area.
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Where to stay in South Africa
A quirky boutique art hotel in a perfect location for sightseeing, recreation, dining and exploring town.
Kruger Gate Hotel
Lodge-style resort with comfortable, upscale rooms located just outside Kruger National Park.
Restored Victorian-style hotel located in the historic, gold mining village of Pilgrim's Rest.
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Things to do in South Africa
Things to do per each town on the route:
Things to do in Lydenburg
The starting point of the Panorama Route is right outside of Lydenburg, at the foot of the Long Tom Pass. This mountain pass / parkway is a scenic road between Lydenburg and Sabie, with lots of switchbacks and stunning scenes of the mountain landscape. This pass was named after the Long Tom French-made cannon at which you'll be able to stop to have a look when you've reached the pass' peak.
On your way to the top of the mountain (where the cannon is) make sure to stop at Hops Hollow Brewery, Africa's highest brewery. Another great and fun stop on the way is the Long Tom Toboggan, which happens to be Africa's longest toboggan run. Pro-tip: they do not take bookings, so you can just arrive and ride.
Things to do in Sabie
As much as Sabie is a tourist town, it is very much known for forestry and mountain biking.
The Panorama Route is peppered with waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, Lone Creek Falls, Sabie Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Pro-tip: make sure to carry some cash with you, as some of these waterfalls charge an entry fee.
Komatiland Forestry Museum: A museum that has been around in Sabie for ages. It displays ecotourism practices on local forests, as well as the history of the South African timber and lumber industries.
Kestell Adventures: A recreation centre with all sorts of activities on offer, including tubing, canyoning, abseiling, caving, forest cruising and white-water kayaking.
Hikes: A few day hikes to consider are the Loerie Trail, Forest Falls Walk, Secretary Bird Walk and the Misty Mountain Trail.
Backpacking: Check out the Fanie Botha Trail, a five-day backpacking trip that doesn't require any camping, as you hike to overnight huts. Pro-tip: this is one of South Africa's most popular trails, so make sure to book ahead of time.
Things to do in Graskop
Just like its neighbor, Sabie, Graskop is a tourist hot spot since it is right on the way to the famous Kruger National Park, but it is primarily known for forestry, too. The town's history dates to the late 1830s. Graskop is closely located to an abundance of natural landmarks, such as God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, The Three Rondavels and the Blyde River Canyon. Graskop is always growing and expanding, and with each visit, there is more and more to do.
The Big Swing: A bungee jump swing and one of the world’s highest cable gorge swings, which launches off the top of a waterfall.
Graskop Gorge Lift Co.: This impressive tourist attraction has tons to do, including The Lift, which is a viewing elevator that goes down into the gorge and is situated right across from the Big Swing. It is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Once you get to the bottom, you enter a forest with waterfalls and rivers and suspension bridges. It is a must-see and a wonderland in it's own right. Other things to do here include the zip line and shopping for local South African arts and crafts.
Delago Arts & Crafts: A lovely shop right on the main street of Graskop.
Waterfall watching in the area: Lisbon falls, Mac Mac Falls, Mac Mac Pools, Forest Falls and Berlin Falls.
Scenic drives & viewpoints in the area: Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels, Bourkes Luck Potholes, The Pinnacle Rock (lots of action movies have shots here, and it has also been featured on "The Bachelor" TV series), Wonder View and God's Window.
Africa Silks Farm: A silk farm and showroom where you can learn how to weave silk and see the silk-making process.
Hikes: The Jock of the Bushveld Trail.
Things to do in Pilgrim's Rest
Pilgrim's Rest is a restored gold mining town with the quaintest little streets and historic Victorian buildings. This town has so much history; the whole town has been designated a national monument. Pilgrim's Rest had street lamps before England ever did. It is also famous for the yearly National Gold Panning Championships.
Alanglade House Museum & Ghost Tour: If haunted houses and history excite you, then this one's for you! Alanglade was a wealthy miner's house built in the early 1900s, and is still furnished with items from that era. If you go at the right time, you might see the cradle rock in the baby room.
Gold Panning Tours: Pilgrim's Rest is well-known for it's gold panning. There are guided tours to go do it yourself, just like the early prospectors used to do. And you can keep what you find!
Hiking & backpacking: There are tons of overnight hikes in this area. A favorite is the Prospector's Hiking Trail.
Pilgrim's Rest Golf Course & Country Club: One of South Africa's most scenic courses, with a beautiful country club.
Things to do in Ohrigstad
Ohrigstad is a small town that was established by Voortrekkers (pioneers) in the mid-1800s, and is named after a trader from Amsterdam who wanted to develop trade between the Netherlands and South Africa. Ohrigstad is now home to game farms, game reserves and commercial agriculture. This area is well known for the Echo Caves, situated about 30 minutes north of town. These caves were discovered in the early 1900s, when a farmer saw that his cattle were disappearing into the cave, as they were attracted to the fresh water found inside.
Echo Caves: South Africa's longest cave, with an underground wonderland to explore. It is considered one of the oldest in the world.
Alwyn Farm Stall: The word alwyn means aloe in Afrikaans, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. The farm stall offers homemade preserves and jams as well as delicious chillies to buy. They also make pancakes, jaffles, vetkoek and koeksisters (all South African delicacies).
The Big Shoe: A man-made, life-size shoe building with quirky things inside. The Shoe also has a small museum that showcases the Ohrigstad Valley's history.
Things to do in Hazyview
Hazyview is an agricultural town with a sub-tropical climate and is well known for its large banana and macadamia nut farms. They produce about 20-40% of South Africa's bananas and macadamias; the rest gets exported.
Hazyview might be better known as the gateway to the famous Kruger National Park. Hazyview not only has good restaurants but also a ton of outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Elephant Whisperer: A wildlife encounter like no other. Elephant Whisperer offers amazing encounters and interactions with elephants.
Skyway Trails: One of South Africa's longest zip line / aerial cable trails.
Induna Adventures: They have paintball, archery, rafting and numerous other activities. A favorite activity is geckoing, basically a combination of white-water tubing and kloofing (jumping off high rock cliffs into water pools).
Kruger National Park Day Tours: Hazyview have no shortage of companies that take you on a guided safari to the Kruger.
Summerfiels Rose Retreat & Spa: A luxury five-star retreat and spa right on the Sabi River. This is the perfect stop after an exciting safari or a busy day filled with adventure and adrenaline. Not only do they have an incredible spa, they also have amazing accommodations.
Perry's Bridge Trading Post & Tourism Centre: A lovely spot to shop, eat, keep kids entertained and relax. There are over 25 shops and restaurants to choose from. There is even a reptile park, spa and boutique hotel.
A note from Fora
Everything in this guide can be done as a day trip. Just pick and choose what you would like to do and see, and off you go!
Places to eat & drink in South Africa
Places to eat & drink in Lydenburg
Café Crust: Local and casual dining with a big menu and lots of variety. All the baked goods are homemade and made fresh daily. The crowd-pleasers are the quiches and the cakes.
Places to eat & drink in Sabie
The Wild Fig Tree: Has been around for 26 years. Their quality and service never disappoint. Their baked goods are to die for, and they have the prettiest outdoor seating under a beautiful Jacaranda tree, making for the perfect afternoon tea and cake spot. They have a variety of South African classics as well as interesting options like crocodile, for the adventurous eaters.
Smokey Train Diner: Another local spot that has been around for years. There are seating options within the train carriages as well as a covered deck with a putt-putt course outside for the kids to enjoy. The are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Sabie Brewing Company: Located in one of the town's heritage buildings with exposed original wooden beams from the 1920s. They have delicious burgers and pizza, but what you are really here for is the beer. The Safari Gold is a solid choice. Opt for a beer tour and tasting to really get a good sampling of all the great beers.
Places to eat & drink in Graskop
Harrie's Pancakes: A trip to Graskop is not complete without visiting the world-famous Harrie's Pancakes (which by the way is also now open in Dubai). You won't taste a better pancake in South Africa. Some recommendations: Cinnamon Sugar & Milk Tart Custard, Bobotie with Chutney Vinaigrette, Chicken Livers with Pepper Cream Sauce, Smoked Trout Fillet with Horseradish Cream. They have incredible coffee and milkshakes, too.
Bruno's Barn Pub & Grill: A super neat bar filled with antiques the owners have collected over the years. They have great outdoor seating, and all the bar snacks are prepared over the braai (BBQ). This is the place to meet all the locals, as it is the local watering hole. If you are lucky, you will get to meet the precious doggo this place was named after, Bruno the Staffie.
Places to eat & drink in Pilgrim's Rest
The Vine Restaurant & Johnny's Pub: Run by the Reinders family. This is the coolest place in all of PR. It is located in the downtown area in an old Victorian building. Some menu favorites: the prego roll, the chicken schnity & ostrich neck potjie and their homemade tomato sauce / ketchup.
The Old Church Bar at The Royal Hotel: Located in uptown PR. Old wooden floors, church benches and a lovely wooden bar top make this place a must-see. Make sure you ask them for the Melktertjie shot.
Places to eat & drink in Hazyview
Pioneer's Grill: Where you want to go for a good steak and glass of red. They have been awarded the best wine list in this area a few times now, and serve the best steaks in town.
Shiloh Coffee Estate: For all the coffee lovers. It is situated right on a scenic lake and is best enjoyed when getting a cuppa with some yummy cake.
The River Café at Summerfields: A cozy restaurant set inside a massive greenhouse. All of their food is farm-to-table and comes from their veggie garden. The River Café has been a winner in the World Luxury Restaurant Awards.
Need to Know
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