As I’m sure everyone is well aware and super excited about, we have a lot of public holidays coming up over the next 6 weeks or so and I thought I’d shed some light on where to take a great mini vacation. I’m always looking to take advantage of these and head off somewhere I’ve never been before so I thought I’d share one of favourites for this kind of holiday.
Mpumalanga? People ask me all confused. Yes, Mpumalanga. It is one of my favourite places on this earth. More specifically, Blyde River Canyon and the Panorama Route. In this particular part of the world you can expect forests, waterfalls and views that your eyes might not believe.
The Panorama Route comprises of various stops including Bourke’s Potholes, Berlin falls, Lisbon falls, God’s Window and the Pinnacle. On route there are also two sets of caves; the Sudwala caves and Echo caves that are also worth visiting.
This route requires you drive the distance between each stop which means you’re doing quite a lot of driving around but the route is circular so it does bring you back to your starting point. If you don’t feel like doing the driving yourself there are travel shuttles that you can organise through your hotel or information centre that will do the driving for you. We were driving ourselves so we decided to divide the route into two day trips which worked out perfectly. For this reason, I’d suggest a three or four night stay.
I’d recommend you take a packed lunch as there isn’t very much in the way of restaurants once you’re out there. We stopped at Spar in the morning and bought fresh rolls and cheeses and popped them in the cooler bag with a few bottles of water. This is also so lovely to do because it means you end up picnicking surrounded by the most beautiful views. On your way back to the hotel, Harrie’s Pancakes is not to be missed! It is right outside Graskop hotel and it has pancakes like you’ve never tasted them before. My favourite is the milktart filled pancake – nom nom nom. There is also the most incredible Mozambican restaurant just opposite Graskop hotel and if you can I’d definitely recommend having dinner there, it’s delish!
The first time I ventured out here, I stayed at Graskop Hotel which is a very sweet hotel very close to the start of the Panorama Route. If you don’t mind staying a little further away, I’ve also stayed Casa do Sol, a four star hotel in Hazyview. This is a very romantic hotel with lovely spacious rooms (the double villas). Our room rate included breakfast and dinner which were both delicious. I also enjoyed staying at this hotel because the drive from Hazyview to Graskop takes you through Sappi’s forests which are beautiful. The hotel also had a wonderful spa and lovely pool area which are both worth visiting on the days you’ve chosen to relax all day.
If you’re planning on road-tripping out here, have a look for specials for Casa do Sol. I found ours on mtbeds.co.za which was R5000 for 3 nights including breakfast and an incredible dinner. Graskop Hotel was about R700 a night including breakfast. Other costs involve small entrance fees into the viewpoints, majority of which are R10 (the Potholes was about R60, but don’t skip it!).
Don’t forget sunscreen and lots of water and I can guarantee you will have an incredible time and make memories for a lifetime.