One of South Africa's most scenic areas, the Panorama Route refers to the escarpment in Mpumalanga Province, where the Drakensberg mountains separate the Highveld from the Lowveld to the east. Studded with numerous waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints and geographical phenomena and a breathtaking canyon, it's easy to see why it's such a popular tourist destination.
- Blyde River Canyon
- Bourke's Luck Potholes
- God's Window
- Three Rondavels
- Mac Mac Falls
- Berlin Falls
- Lisbon Falls
- Historical Pilgrim's Rest
- The Pinnacle
- Graskop Gorge Lift
The Panorama Route encompasses several scenic and picturesque villages, the most central of which is Graskop Village with its landmark Harrie's Pancakes and curio shop. It's also very accessible from other towns like Sabie, Hazyview, White River, Nelspruit and Hoedspruit.
The route passes an abundance of rivers, waterfalls, natural rock formations, viewpoints with endless vistas and the famous Blyde River Canyon.
Although it is possible to get a quick overview of the area in one day, we recommend you plan one or two nights en route so you can fully enjoy all the sights and attractions the Panorama Route has to offer.
Tell us about your preferences and we'll gladly recommend overnight accommodation as well as guided or self-drive options.
These are some of our favourites:
Graskop Gorge Lift
The Graskop Gorge Lift offers spectacular views and is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. A glass-fronted lift takes you some 50 m down a sheer cliff face to the valley floor in the rain forest below. Once there, you can explore further via a network of suspension bridges and walkways along forest trails and across mountain streams.
There are a few shops, craft markets and a restaurant and bar at the top.
This famous little town is a living museum and dates back to the pioneering days of the Gold Rush of the 19th Century. It's like stepping back in time.
There are numerous museums housed in corrugated iron houses, the infamous Robbers Pass, the ubiquitous Royal Hotel, the authentic recreation of the Digging Site just outside the town, the Church Bar, old newspaper offices and an assortment of tea rooms, stores and diners for you to discover.
Blyde River Canyon
This is the world's greenest canyon, and one of the most spectacular scenes along the Panorama Route.
The best place to view the canyon is from the Lowveld View or Three Rondavels site. At 1,219 m, it offers a breathtaking view over the Blyde River Canyon with its forested valleys, and assorted rock formations like The Three Rondavels (rock formations that look like traditional African round huts or rondavels).
Looking down, you'll see the Blyde River snaking its way across the canyon floor to the wide expanse of the Blydepoort Dam. You can also visit the Canyon from below, and enjoy a scenic boat cruise on the Blydepoort Dam.
Bourke's Luck Potholes
Over millennia, swirling whirlpools between the confluence of the Treur (meaning sad) and Blyde (meaning happy) Rivers have carved out a series of fascinating potholes in the underlying rockface.
A popular tourist spot, you can explore the area on foot or via sturdy overhead bridges overlooking the potholes below. There's a good information centre, picnic area and many local crafts on offer.
Probably the most well-known of the viewpoints in the area, God's Window is perched on the edge of the escarpment with infinite views of the Lowveld below. It's not a window as such, just the elevated view that locals say God has from above on the beautiful Lowveld below. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Kruger National Park in the distance. A long walkway and series of steps will take you through a beautiful patch of rainforest, opening up to yet another amazing view point.
The Pinnacle is a freestanding rock monolith rising up from the thick surrounding bush like a sentinel. There are two viewpoints, each showing you different aspects of this geographical phenomenon.
Mac Mac Falls
A walkway past local curio stalls leads you to the lookout over these twin waterfalls which plummet 70 metres to the rock pool below. The noise is thunderous and can be heard at some distance.
The Mac Mac Pools are a few meters away from the lookout spot and they are ideal for a shady picnic stop and a refreshing dip in the bracing mountain waters.
Other waterfalls worth a visit include the Lisbon Falls (92 m and the area's highest) and the Berlin Falls (42 m).
The Echo Caves
These are just outside Ohrigstad. Said to be amongst the oldest caves in the world, they are a historical monument. It is said that the local people used one of the cave's stalactites as a drum to warn of approaching enemies. The caves extend for about 40 km and the sound travelled surprising distances, hence the name.
- Hiking trails
- MTB bike trails
- River rafting and boat cruises
- Art galleries
- Craft markets
- Farm stores
- Wine and craft beer shops
- Assorted restaurants and dining options
- Hot air ballooning
- Helicopter trips
- Long Tom Toboggan
- Shangaan cultural village
- Elephant interactions
- Reptile parks
- Animal rehabilitation centres
Please contact us and we'll gladly suggest an itinerary to suit your time, interests and budget.
Combining the Panorama Route with a Kruger Park safari
A number of operators include a visit to the Panorama Route as part of a Kruger Park safari package. This is usually done by taking the longer route from Johannesburg to Kruger (on the way there or back) and stopping briefly to see a few highlights of the Panorama Route only. This is not the ideal way to experience the "Pano Route". Apart from the very long drive (9 or 10 hours in a vehicle) it also robs you of time on safari, and usually means missing out on the first afternoon game drive or final morning drive in the Kruger Park. For this reason, we typically do not add the Pano Route to our standard Kruger Park safari packages. We can offer it as a day excursion (for example on day 3 of a 4-day safari, instead of doing game drives in Kruger), but we usually recommend adding at least one extra night to your itinerary, either before or after your Kruger Park safari, to give yourself sufficient time to explore the beautiful Panorama Route. Please chat to one of our friendly tour consultants to discuss the best way to include the Panorama Route during your trip.
A national monument, the village of Pilgrim's Rest is living testament to the early gold rush days in South Africa that shaped so much of the country's identity.
Almost 2,000 m above sea level, the panoramic views over the Blyde River Canyon and the Lowveld from God's Window are spectacular. On a clear day, you might even be able to spot boats in Mozambique's Maputo Harbour.
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Casterbridge Hollow boutique hotel is set on a former sweet mango farm and is Mpumalanga’s first “green hotel”, built from simple local materials with artwork sourced from local artists and artisans. It's superbly located - a 15-minute drive from KMIA (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) and with easy access to both Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route - and an ideal base from which to explore this picturesque region.
Hippo Hollow Country Estate is conveniently located outside the town of Hazyview and only ten minutes drive away from the world-famous Kruger National Park. Nestled amongst lush indigenous gardens, this Lowveld retreat on the banks of the Sabie River will leave you feeling totally refreshed and relaxed. Hippo Hollow offers en-suite hotel rooms as well as self-catering chalets.