Planning a trip to Africa?  In this installment of our Africa Travel Guide Series, we bring you on a drive along the beautiful panorama route around the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa.

Panorama Route South Africa Blog

The Panorama Route in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa is one of the most scenic routes of the country.  This route is visited mostly en-route to Kruger National Park, but yet, it had also earned its own right as one of the most beautiful places in South Africa with its deep canyons, panoramic mountain views and plummeting waterfalls.

It was an exhausting trip for us from Singapore to Johannesburg (11 hrs on board!), and it was early morning by the time we landed at O. R. Tambo International Airport to meet our private guide for the day at the airport.

Our final destination was Hazyview, a small town at the outskirts of Kruger National Park which was the highlight of our trip to Africa.  Just like most other visitors to Kruger National Park, we made the decision to experience the Panorama Route en-route to Hazyview.

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Blyde River Canyon South Africa

That’s the view from inside our private transport.  Most parts of the drive from the Johannesburg airport to Hazyview was scenic, but our real first stop was the Blyde River Canyon, a place of incredible peace and beauty.

Blyde River Canyon and its surrounding regions is known to be the most scenic part of the Panorama Route.  Said to be the the world’s 3rd largest canyon after the Grand Canyon in the United States and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, the Blyde River Canyon with its lush green foliage has further earned itself the name of the largest ‘green canyon’ in the world – indeed, it looks very different from the rocky image of the Grand Canyon!

Three Rondavels South Africa

You have the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains of Sydney, and there’s the Three Rondavels in South Africa.

Towering 700 metres above the Blyde River Canyon, the Three Rondavels are so named because they resemble small grass huts that are called rondavels.

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Bourke’s Luck Potholes

Instead of going to Lisbon Falls as originally planned in our itinerary, our second stop was Bourke’s Luck Potholes – a geological feature which consists of cylindrical shaped potholes in the rocky bed of the Blyde River caused by decades of erosion.

That’s the close-up of those cylindrical pot-holes.  They look so smooth and perfect – its almost as if they were man-made.

It’s great to watch the bubbling river and the ever on-going efforts of nature to carve out those potholes.

The best part at Bourke’s Luck Potholes was that besides the potholes,  the scenery was great, and we were able to walk through the river upstream that led to the potholes.

There’s even a few small waterfalls here, although nowhere as impressive as what we’ve seen at the Rocky Mountains and Iceland.

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God’s Window Mpumalanga

Final stop for us on the Panorama Route was God’s Window.

It used to be that there was a rock here with a hole in the middle – thus giving this place its name as God’s window – because looking through that hole at the earthly scene below does look like looking out of a window in the heavens.  Unfortunately, that rock was heavily vandalised by the increasing number of visitors to this place, and was eventually closed to the public.

Nevertheless, the top of the cliff is still open to the public to view some spectacular panoramic view of the vast low lands of South Africa, from a vantage point 700m above ground.   If you are lucky on a clear day (which we were not!) you will be able to see across Kruger National Park and beyond to the Mozambique border.

What interests me the most were these aloe ferox plants growing in great abundance at the cliff top.

Closely related to its more famous cousin – the aloe vera, the aloe ferox is indigenous to South Africa and it regions, meaning that its not found anywhere else in the world!  Its abilities in wound healing and its regenerative effects are similar to that of the aloe vera, but at a much higher potency level, and is therefore used extensively in skincare and body care products in Africa.  Be sure to pick some up when you are there!

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Join us next as we spend one night at Perry’s Bridge Hollow Boutique Hotel at Hazyview before embarking on the much anticipated game drive through Kruger National Park!

First published 5 Nov 2017
Last updated 6 Jan 2019

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