Lush forests, dramatic waterfalls, turquoise lagoons and the third largest canyon in the world, the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga may be one of South Africa's shorter inland routes, but it's a truly spectacular drive. This popular self-drive route is brimming with natural wonders, breathtaking scenery and plenty of opportunities to get off the road and into the countryside, whether on a hike, boat ride, safari drive, or something a little more adventurous.
The route starts at the foot of the Long Tom Pass, a near-treacherous winding path that offers incredible vistas of nearby Lydenburg and the savannahs of Kruger National Park in the distance.
To the east is Pilgrim's Rest, a restored gold-mining town that's so charming you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across part of a theme park. The town has been declared a National Monument, and among its authentic Victorian buildings you’ll find quaint eateries and shops selling artisanal gifts and curios (unusual knick-knacks).
As you head northeast, you can't fail to miss the magnificent Blyde River Canyon, its ochre cliff faces dusted with green from the lush forests clinging to the side. Hike to the peaks and enjoy the breathtaking panoramas, or jump on a boat or kayaking trip along the Blyde River and enjoy the splendid canyon from its base.
In addition to this impressive gorge, the Mpumalanga province is famous for its waterfalls. Here you’ll find the Mac Mac falls, Lone Creek Falls, Horseshoe falls, Lisbon falls and Berlin Falls, all impressive in their height and beauty. But perhaps the most distinctive of all is Bridal Veil Falls. Dropping 70 metres, this stunning cascade has a backdrop of rugged cliffs and vibrant greenery, making it a heavenly spot for a mid-morning hike and a great place for a picnic.
Most people driving the Panorama Route are heading to Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest game reserve. A shade under 19,500 square kilometres, it's home to the Big Five – lions, rhinoceros, elephants, leopards and buffalo – free to wander, graze and hunt within their natural habitat. Sandy desert-like paths meander through grassy plateaus, muddy watering holes and crooked ornate trees – the perfect setting to see graceful giraffes, playful lion cubs and hungry hyenas. Few game drives occur in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest; instead the cooler periods of dusk and dawn are preferred to explore the expansive natural landscapes.
Thrilling game drives, challenging hikes and kayaking through steep ravines. The Panorama Route is chock-full of adventures, and the views are simply mind-blowing.
Things to do along the Panorama Route
Here are some of the things you can do along the Panorama Route. When you've chosen your favourite experiences, just give our Travel Designers a call and they'll put a trip together for you. If you need help choosing an experience, or if you want to learn more about it, our Travel Designers will be more than happy to talk to you. Just call them on: 01483 319 333