if you have driven the panoramic route

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Sep 9th, 2008, 03:23 PM
  #1
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if you have driven the panoramic route

what was the highlight? anything that was en route that didn't meet expectations, like the smaller towns or waterfalls? We are doing a private tour of this through to JNB but need to cut out a couple things to make it to Chimpanzee Eden. We are going to Victoria Falls after so that's my inclination. thanks!
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Sep 9th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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The drive is so beautiful with lots of quaint little towns and view points along the road to stop at. Unfortunately, there was not alot of time to spend at these places as we were under a time restraint to get to Mala Mala. I would love to go back and spend more time in this area. Another surprise was all the forestry and lumbering going on in this area. Bourkes Potholes was interesting and the lookout for Blyde canyon was breathtaking. I read that it was not a good time to see the waterfalls (July) so we didn't take the turn off for those.

There were alot of fires and smoke in the air so the view of the Blyde river canyon and Three rondavals wasn't as pretty as I imagined from the photos.

Just another reason to go back! <)

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Sep 9th, 2008, 10:21 PM
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This isn't a drive to do in a hurry, and if you don't have time to see the many waterfalls, contemplate the beauty from God's Window, stroll around Bourke's Luck Potholes, etc., then it's just a pretty drive (yes, with too many timber plantations IMHO). I love the region and the Panorama Route, but you really need a day to do it - have pancakes at Harrie's in Graskop and even poke around Pilgrim's Rest and enjoy a cup of locally grown and roasted Sabie Valley Coffee.

If this isn't possible, rather spend your time walking through the AMAZING Lowveld botanical garden in Nelspruit (including exceptional birding and lovely views) and then head over to Chimp Eden.

If you do have a bit of additional time, then Kaapsehoop (historic village, artist's colony, wild horses), Nukain Mabuza's outsider art rock paintings (on the road from Malelane to Barberton), and/or the charming town of Barberton (oldest rocks on Earth, oldest fossils/evidence of life on Earth) are other possibilities that are close at hand from Nelspruit/Chimp Eden.

HTH

Kurt
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Sep 10th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Hi,

We, consisting of my wife and two daughters aged 11 and 14, did a 3 days self drive through the Panorama route in between the Kruger and Cape Town legs of our SA trip in April 2008. We exited Kruger from Phalaborwa gate and drove via Hoedspruit to Blyde River Canyon Lodge where stayed two nights. BRCL is located near the Blyde dam and close to the boat tour (highly recommended), Moholoholo rehab center (good/fixed tour times)and some other sights nearby, the lodge itself is excellent. On the 3rd day we started at 7am and did a long days drive through the Panorama Route via the Strijdom tunnel, covering the Echo Caves (very good/need guide/1hour), The 3 Rondavels view(nice/20 mins), Bourkes Luck Potholes(nice 1 hour self walk about), Gods Window(20mins), some waterfalls, late lunch at Harries Pancakes (superb) in Graskop, Pilgrims rest (walk about 1 hour)and finally drove to White River which we reached shortly after dark about 7pm, where we stayed at the White House Lodge located very close (5 mins drive) to KMIA airport and was excellent for an overnight. Next morning we returned the rental car at KMIA and took the 1pm flight direct to Cape Town.

If I was to do this again I would suggest only one night at BRCL and 1 night at Graskop as there is more to see around Graskop.

If you have only one night, make it at Graskop.

Roads are good and driving quite easy.

We were stopped twice by police for random checks, just looked my IDP and Licence and sent us on.

Lots of curio sellers every whhere on route, some nice bargains, masks etc, need to bargain hard but much cheaper than CT.

Have a look at my trip photos at http://www.abidally.com/mp/South%20Africa%20Album/ Images 8264 - 8650 are from the Panorama route.

Hope this helps.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 05:39 PM
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We did pretty much the whole route in a (long) day with a driver/guide. Beautiful but in Sept/Oct not much water in the potholes or waterfalls. Still, all worth seeing as you drive through in a changing landscape.
Pilgrim's Rest has an interesting historical museum but otherwise is a tourist trap. And beware of buying crappy souveenirs here or at roadside stands along the way: Most are cheap curios imported from other African countries. Nothing authetic.
Also please note: Harrie's is a great little place to eat in the nice little town of Graskopf. But "pancakes" are what we Americans call crepes. You can order sweet ones or savory ones, such as chicken w/mushrooms. And there's great shopping at the store next door. Some crafts are inexpensive but creative trinkets and others real African art.
Leslie
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Sep 10th, 2008, 05:50 PM
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Forgot to add: We stayed at the Jatinga Country Lodge, just outside White River (not within walking distance; you need a car). It's probably the most upscale lodging in the area, on gorgeous grounds with big, beautiful rooms, huge bathrooms, lovely gardens and birds galore. It sits along the river and has a pool, a croquet field, cozy public rooms and porches and an agreeable little bar. But the food was only slightly above awful. However, this was in Sept., 2006, and while we were there another company was taking over the management, so perhaps they hired a new chef.
Leslie
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Sep 10th, 2008, 11:22 PM
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Yea LAleslie, the shop next to Harries Pancakes in Graskop, think it is named "Delgao" has superb shopping for Arican stuff, we wasted too much time their.

Graskop is nice to stay overnight.
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Oct 5th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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Here is my description of our drive through the area taken from my trip report of 2005:

......We made our way back to Johannesburg slowly, over two days, for our return flight to Cape Town. From the vast plain on which Kruger and Honeyguide lie, we climbed up through the breathtaking Abel Erasmus Pass onto the escarpment above. We wound our way through the pass with great care, as the locals had taken to grazing their animals on the shoulders of the road, much as they have in many parts of South Africa. Several times, we rounded a bend and encountered goats or cows on the narrow road. At the viewpoints along the pass, there were stalls where fruit, such as oranges, mangoes and papayas, and curios, such as clay pots, African masks, and wooden giraffes, were for sale. We drove along the Panorama Route, a spectacular drive that snaked along the rim of the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world. There were several wonderful viewpoints along the way, with names like God’s Window and Wonderview, which offered magnificent views of the plain below. We admired the Pinnacle, a 30m high “needle” of quartzite rock, which rose dramatically from the floor of the canyon. Our favourite stop, however, was the Three Rondawels, three towering rock formations that bear a resemblance to the traditional mud and thatch African dwellings. Some 1600 metres below, the Blyde River snaked its way through the canyon. The sheer drop was breathtaking. We admired plunging waterfalls and pockets of rainforest in the canyon. In one particularly pretty patch of rainforest, we were delighted to spot a rare Knysna lourie, a large and spectacular green, red and blue bird, which had eluded us at Christmas when we were in Knysna. We passed through the world’s largest man-made forests, endless forests of pine and eucalyptus, which covered the escarpment. Eventually, we left the escarpment, dropping down Long Tom Pass, the second-highest mountain pass in South Africa, and named for the cannons that the Boers dragged up the pass to try to drive back the British during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. As we zigzagged our way down the pass, we could see the holes in the rock that had been made by the cannons.......

We too stopped in Graskop and ate at Harrie's Pancakes - the pancakes/crepes were good but nothing exceptional. The shop next door - Delgoa - was fabulous when we there, but I have heard from a friend who went there recently, that the selection and quality of the crafts are not what they used to be.

As LAleslie warns, most of the curios sold along the route are imports and rather cheap, but there are a few gems amongst the junk - it's worth a glance!

For quality crafts and great maps, I highly recommend a book called, "Travel Guide to South African Craft Sites." I have the 2004 version, but there is a new (2007?) version. See www.duesouthcraftroute.co.za. If you are in Cape Town and take a trip out to the Winelands, Due South now has an excellent shop on the main street in Franschhoek. The book - both editions (they were giving away the older version) - is available there and in bookstores in Cape Town (and likely JNB).
Hope this helps! Robin
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Oct 5th, 2008, 11:50 PM
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I recommend the Addo Elephant Park with an overnight at the Zuurberg Mountain Inn, http://www.zuurberg-inn.co.za/ and also a trip to Haga-haga on the Wild Coast.

Cheers,


Pol
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