The Panorama Route Tours

The Panorama Route Tours in South Africa is a beautiful drive that passes by many historical and natural landmarks. This adventure route lies in Mpumalanga province, near the Blyde River Canyon, the third greatest canyon (and the largest green canyon) in the world. 

Among the many natural attractions found here are numerous waterfalls and one of the largest forested regions in South Africa. Depending on how you view it, the Panorama Route includes the following drives:

One route begins in Nelspruit, where the Lowveld Botanical Garden can be visited. It then travels to White River, where you can visit a motor museum. With activities like 4×4 trips and abseiling, Sabie provides plenty of adventure. Pilgrims Rest has a few spectacular pubs and restaurants that are a must-see if you want to experience the town’s culture.

With attractions such as God’s Window, Lisbon Waterfalls, Berlin Falls, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Graskop can be seen as the highlight of the Panorama Route.

This route concludes at the Blyde River Canyon with the Swadini Forever Resort, which offers a variety of activities ranging from boat rides to Microlight battles.

Alternatively, a route begins outside Lydenburg at the base of Long Tom Pass, winds its way down the Great Escarpment and into the Lowveld, and ends close to the provincial border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo, not far from the Echo Caves.

On the Panorama Route you will find:

Gods Window

At the famous Gods Window, the steep walls of a deep gorge frame the view of the escarpment forest. From this “window,” a paved path along the escarpment leads to Quartzkop and the Rain Forest, which has a natural garden under a tree canopy and brightly coloured aloes in the winter. 

All of this is separated by outcrops of sandstone that have been worn down into strange prehistoric shapes.

Through the rain forest at God’s Window, there is a path that leads to Wonderview. At 1 750m above sea level, the walk gives you beautiful views of the Lowveld, with its forested area in the foreground, the Kruger National Park in the background, and the Lebombo mountains, which are the natural border between South Africa and Mozambique, in the far distance.

Lisbon Falls

The Lisbon Falls are situated just north of Graskop along the R532 road.

The falls in the Lisbon Creek, a right bank tributary of the Blyde River, were named after the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, to commemorate that some of the people who came to the area to mine gold in the late 1800s were from Portugal. The water falls 95 metres in a triple cascade into a pool at the bottom and are the highest waterfalls in Mpumalanga.

Berlin Falls

A single stream of water drops 45 metres into a pool at the bottom of this waterfall, which is named after the farm where it is located. At the top of the falls, where there are great views, there is a path that people use to cross the falls. This area is typical of the early days (the second half of the 19th century), when people looking for their fortunes panned the streams for alluvial gold.

The R532 will take you from the Berlin Falls through thick Pine and Eucalyptus plantations. About 33 km from Graskop, the road connects to the Treur River and the southern end of the Blyde River Canyon. During the summer, orange and yellow lichen cover the amazing rock formations and waterfalls, which are most impressive when the sun is shining in the afternoon.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

One of the most interesting geological things on the Panorama Route is where the Treur and Blyde rivers meet. At the point where the two rivers meet, there are swirling whirlpools that have been formed over countless millennia. Sand and rocks carried by the water have worn deep cylindrical potholes into the bedrock over time.

At the Visitors Centre, you can see some of the interesting natural and social history of the reserve. The Blyde River Canyon also starts at the Potholes.

Pinnacle Rock

This is a tall column of weathered quartzite with lots of colourful aloes growing on it. It is 30m taller than the native forest in the Driekop Gorge, which is situated all around it. This is also the source of the Ngwaritsana River, which flows through the narrow cleft on the right at the top of the gorge.

Blyde River Canyon

It is said to be the third largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in Nevada, USA, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia and boasts some of the most dramatic and overwhelming scenery in the country. Unlike the Grand and Fish River Canyon, the Blyde River Canyon is a “green canyon” and dominated by subtropical vegetation. 

The canyon forms part of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (also officially known as Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve), which covers about 30 000 hectares. The 57-kilometer nature reserve belt starts at Graskop and goes along the edge of the escarpment. 

Because the southern section is high and gets a lot of rain (about 3 000 mm per year at God’s Window), the route goes through a lot of grasslands and natural rain forests.

The Lowveld View site

This viewpoint is situated between Bourke’s Luck Potholes and The Three Rondawels on the R532 and provides the best panoramic view of the Blyde River Canyon, The Blydepoort Dam and the Lowveld beyond.

The Three Rondawels

These rock formations, which used to be called the Three Sisters, are one of the many natural sights that stand out on Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route. 

Also, it used to be called after three of Chief Maripi Mahile’s many wives. Magabolle, which is 1 354m above sea level, is on the left. Mogoladikwe is 1 377 metres above sea level and Maseroto is 1 465 metres above sea level. 

The name ‘Rondawel’ also signifies their similarity to the traditional beehive-shaped huts that indigenous people have built and lived in for hundreds of years.

You might also like Blyde River Canyon Tours or Best Kruger Park Day Tours.