It’s one of the world’s most spectacular drives, so should definitely be on your itinerary – the landscapes are incredible…
It’s one of the world’s most spectacular drives, so the Panorama Route should definitely be on your itinerary – the landscapes are incredible. It’s centred around the 26km-long Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest on Earth, which is unusual in that it’s a ‘green canyon’, covered in subtropical vegetation. So you have that, with the river snaking through it, and lots of unusual rock formations and huge waterfalls, with the Drakensberg escarpment in the background. It’s a complete contrast to the savannahs of Kruger, which is where the company is based and where the guests start the trip.
There are so many possible places to stop that you can’t fit all of them into one day, so we try to pick the real highlights. So we visit one of the two waterfalls: Berlin Falls, which everyone says looks like a giant white candle, or Lisbon Falls, which is just as impressive. There’s the Three Rondavels, a trio of rocky pinnacles shaped like traditional beehive huts; the views from here over the canyon are a photographer’s dream. And we couldn’t leave out Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where the sandstone has been eroded by water into extraordinary shapes over thousands of years, and God’s Window or Wonder View depending on the weather – you can get some quite misty or cloudy days here in summer.
We also take a break in Graskop, a small town on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment, where we have lunch at the famous Harrie’s Pancakes, which everybody loves. If guests request it – it’s not on the regular itinerary – there’s a nice extra you can do nearby, the Graskop Gorge Lift, which takes you down the side of the gorge into the canyon where there are wooden walkways and suspension bridges through the forest. It’s very, very beautiful.
As I mentioned, you’re in a completely different biome here, and it’s particularly rich in birdlife. I know there are over 240 species in the area, some of which you won’t find in Kruger. Obviously, you’ll see more from the quieter parts of the hiking trails that cut through here, but I once spotted a bald ibis on its nest close to the Lisbon Falls, so you just have to keep your eyes open. My most amazing encounter, though, happened one day when I was driving along with some guests. The road was very quiet and as we came around a corner, there was a leopard sitting beside the road. That was definitely a ‘wow’ moment!
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