Road Tripping the Panorama Route

 

Where to stay: daramane.co.za

Location: Graskop

Cost of Accommodation: R1378 pp (B/B)

 

Every year our group of friends try to plan a trip to somewhere we have never been before. The Panorama route is one of the places that’s been on my travel bucket list for ages. So this year for my 30th birthday, my friends surprised me with a trip to this magical destination.

Driving the panorama route must be one of the most spectacular drives in the southern hemisphere. It’s filled with picturesque scenery and astonishing views.

We started our 3 day trip before dawn on a chilly Friday morning. None of us are morning people and although there was some complaining and sad faces at 5am in the morning, we got to skip traffic and arrived at our destination just in time for brunch.

Day 1

Harries Pancakes was the spot we picked for brunch. I have heard a lot of hype around Harries pancakes but was sadly disappointed. The pancakes were thick, not what you would expect from a pancake house, and the savory fillings we tried were on the bland side.

After brunch we explored the town of Graskop for a bit. There are a few gift shops, an art gallery, and some street vendors. After walking around we checked in and decided to chill at the guest house for a bit before we headed out to explore. I can’t praise this guest house highly enough. The rooms were beautiful and luxurious. Its rare that you get way more than you expect,for your money, but this place exceeded all our expectations. The owners and staff were so friendly and welcoming. No request went unheard and they went out of their way to make us comfortable.

In the afternoon we decided to take a drive to Pilgrims Rest. We should have done some research on this spot. As we got there around 4pm and most places were closed. We stopped for a bit and looked around and took some pictures. It’s a small quaint town, which I’m sure is much livelier during the day.

At the guest house they made a huge bonfire for us. We brought our own meat for a braai but they provided all the salads and condiments. They even set the table and lit some candles. The bonfire was a huge hit and we spent a few hours around it just talking and enjoying the warmth.

Day 2                                                                                                     

Our first morning at the guest house we were greeted with a delicious breakfast. Crepes, toast, bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, coffee and juice. I normally wouldn’t mention a standard breakfast but I have to compliment this one. Every thing was cooked beautifully and the crepes where some of the best I’ve ever had. I’ve had a craving for those crepes ever since but haven’t found a place in JHB that does them the same.

Feeling really happy and relaxed after breakfast we left for a day of exploring. The weather was beautiful, the birds were chirping, we had GPS and nothing could go wrong… Unfortunately we made the mistake of wholeheartedly trusting the route the GPS mapped out for us and believed when it told us to stay away from the “dirt road”. The alternate route took us on a 2 hour detour around the mountain to get to the sites we wanted to see. The signal kept dropping along the route as well, so it is a good idea to always have a map on hand in case you need to go old school. Eventually we stopped at a nursery, found our place on the map and accepted the wrong turn as part of the adventure.

Once we got to the first view point being lost didn’t even matter, we were blown away by the beauty of everything around us. Blyde River was breathtaking, a wow moment for all of us.

Lowveld View was the second veiwpoint with a lower view of Blyde river canon. It was nice to take a minute here to relax on the rocks while admiring the view for a bit.

Bourke Luck Potholes was a really fun stop. There is a hiking trail that we would have loved to have done but we got there towards the end of day and it was much too late. The potholes are a series of natural rock pools and mini waterfalls. There are interlinking bridges that allow you to walk freely around the area to give you the best views of the potholes. If you have a picnic packed this is the ideal spot to take a break and get some sun at the adjoining park.

Day 3

Gods Window takes a little bit of effort to get to and you will have to walk up a few stairs but even the laziest members of our group managed the trip. Getting the perfect view at Gods Window is always a gamble, it depends on the weather and time of day. Our first view was filled with clouds but after walking around a bit we stopped at the view point on our way out and got the perfect view of the entire valley. It was absolutely serene and beautiful.

The route is littered with waterfalls and for a small cover fee you can view and even swim at a few of them. We couldn’t do them all so we chose randomly which ones we would see.

At Mac Mac Falls there is a walkway leads you past local vendors. Here you will find local hand crafted goods. Once at the falls, you get a stunning view of the waterfall with beautiful lush greenery everywhere. The falls flows into Mac Mac river, were you can go for a swim. There is a picnic spot alongside the river where you are surrounded by the freshness of the plants around you and serenaded by the music of the waterfall in the background.

Lonecreek Falls was the last spot on the trip and definitely a highlight. There was not much walking and no hiking to get to this waterfall. This is one of the waterfalls where you start at the bottom of the falls. Staring up at this wonder of nature I couldn’t  believe I’ve lived in SA all my life and have only done this now. It was 3 days of absolute wonder. Another destination to strike off the bucket list and definitely an awesome 30th birthday trip.

Travel Tips:

  1. The signal on most networks is pretty bad, carry a map as backup
  2. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the many beautiful spots
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and bring sunglasses

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