The Panorama Route

The Panorama Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa.

It leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg. Here, in the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld a thousand metres below.

This view is most reliable in the dry winter months. At other times the spectacle is often impaired, since the escarpment is a barrier for the clouds coming from the east, rising at this point and bringing a lot of rain.

The most spectacular stretch is the Blyde River Canyon which can be reached from Graskop via R532.

Just a few kilometres north a small loop road leads to “God’s Window”, from where you will enjoy a wonderful view on the Lowveld. The Canyon starts at “Bourke’s Luck Potholes” and ends at the “Three Rondavels”. From many well-positioned vantage points one has a view of the 33 km long gorge. The Potholes are very impressive rock formations that were shaped millions of years ago by erosion. The bizarre swirl holes developed when the once rapid river carried masses of sand and debris.

Panorama Route Beauty

In the area of the “Greater Panorama Route” between Lydenburg, Ohrigstad and Hazyview provide numerous scenic attractions and pretty historic towns like Pilgrim’s Rest and Sabie, which are well worth a visit.

you enjoy infinite vacation variety, then the Panorama Route is definitely the place to be:

The Panorama region is world famous for its scenic beauty, so start with a scenic drive. Climb the mountain passes onto the Escarpment and gaze down at the wonders of the Lowveld unfolding to infinity beneath you!

‘Must Visits’ are God’s Windows, The Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the awesome panorama of the Blyde River Canyon and the Three Rondawels.

Inhale the champagne fresh air at the highest point of the magnificent Long Tom Pass and watch waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet down gorges and valleys.

We have an eco-tourism route that includes the Prospectors Hiking Trail and the Fanie Botha Hiking Trail.

The Panorama region is renowned for pancakes: visit Harrie’s in Graskop or The Motlatse Community pancake project at the potholes. Enjoy traditional Greek fare at The Woodsman in Sabie or experience appetising Italian Country cooking at The Artists Café.

Lodges and Hotels in the area also offer a delicious selection of good wholesome food.

For a wonderful cultural experience visit Shangana Cultural Village in Hazyview. Shangana offers tours during the day, traditional lunches and a festival at night. Kids get free entry. Visit the Marula Market for a unique shopping experience.

Hot Air Ballooning is big in The Panorama. Spoil Someone Special with a romantic early morning champagne ride!

This is the most popular route to big-game country, with roads taking you past endless pine and gum forests, pockets of tangled indigenous jungle, plunging waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the subtropical plains

A 4-hour drive from Gauteng, it’s an easy escape for Johannesburg’s ever-harassed city dwellers, desperate to breathe fresh air and drive around with unlocked doors. Unfortunately, the air is not always that fresh; Mpumalanga’s industrial activities are responsible for one of the highest acid rainfalls in the world.

This is compounded during the dry winter months, when veld fires are rife, coloring the air with a hazy smog that obscures the views.

While this is one reason to consider traveling via the Letaba/Magoebaskloof area, which is generally a great deal greener in the winter, nothing matches the magnificent view of the lowveld plains from the aptly named God’s Window, or watching the Blyde River snake through Blyde River Canyon, thousands of meters below.

In addition, the region’s popularity makes for a plethora of great accommodations options; it’s worth noting that, with the exception of Pilgrim’s Rest, overnighting in any of the Escarpment towns (as opposed to the outlying areas) would be a mistake — the surroundings offer a lot more in the way of views and setting.

In short, the route is as follows:

After driving through Dullstroom, the highest town on the Escarpment, you drop down the eastern slopes via the scenic Long Tom Pass to the forestry towns of Sabie and Graskop. (Pilgrim’s Rest, a restored gold-mining village, lies another mountain pass away, and warrants a separate visit of at least a half day, excluding travel time.)

Graskop is the gateway to the Panorama Route, a drive that curls along the rim of the Escarpment, with lookout points along the way that provide relatively easy access to some of the most panoramic views in Africa.

Once past the canyon lookouts, the final descent to the lowveld follows the Abel Erasmus Pass to Hoedspruit, which offers easy access to Kruger via the centrally located Orpen Gate, or the private game reserves of Timbavati, Thornybush, and Manyeleti.

Or head south to Hazyview for access to the Paul Kruger Gate or Sabi Sands Reserve, or complete the loop to return to Sabie or Graskop.

Note: If you fly directly to Hoedspruit’s Eastgate airport, you can still tour the Panorama Route as a day trip — just exclude Dullstroom and Long Tom Pass from the itinerary.