Panorama Route

Jan 13th, 2005, 07:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Panorama Route

Our third day at Kruger does not include another game drive (we will have two), though we can add it. However, after looking at all that the Panorama Route has to offer, I'm wondering if we should do a tour of that instead. The area is stunning. I have found a couple of tour operators that do full- and half-day tours.

Any thoughts?
aggiewriter is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 07:37 AM
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When you say "Panorama Route," I'm guessing you mean Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Bridal Veil Falls, Pilgrims Rest, etc.

Yes, the scenery is nice. It's a tough call as to whether you would be better off spending another day viewing wildlife or seeing the scenery. You know yourself and your interests better than I do.

My guess is that it would be a good idea to view the scenery. Regardless of whether you have two days or three days in the Kruger National Park, it still will give you only a taste of what a more dedicated wildlife viewing trip would be like. If you find that you're really taken with Africa's wildlife, I suspect you will return for a more focused trip in the future. So, for now, why not get an introduction to a wide range of scenery?

If you do choose to do the Panorama Route, I would recommend the full day tour.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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If you are calling Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Bridal Veil Falls, Pilgrims Rest, etc.
the Panorama Route then I have to second in a very BIG WAY what Judy has so wisely advised. DONT MISS IT!


Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Yes, that's the area I'm talking about. I was so taken by the photos I have seen on various web sites and I feel as if it's something we should see.

I take it from your comments that I will not be disappointed.

And, Judy, yes, we will probably plan another trip in the future that concentrates more on safari. Since this is our frist trip to the continent we want to be able to see and do as much as we can in the short time we have. I guess it's sort of a sampler trip
aggiewriter is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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We did a "sampler" trip last May where my family and I mixed scenery, city life and wildlife. It was our first trip to Africa and I am glad we decided to taste it all. We are starting the planning now for our next trip in 2006. Judy is absolutley correct, the more focused trip will come later. Fit in as much as you can this time and then next trip narrow your focus to what you really enjoyed. Have fun!
Alisonv is offline  
Jan 14th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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We did the Panorama Route on our last day in SA. From Kruger we had a guide pick us up from Singita and we headed out with stops at Blyde Canyon, Gods Window and The Rondavels ending at Nelspruit airport for our flight to JNB and then home. Had lunch as Grasskop (sp). The day we traveled the route wasn't the best and found fog at some stops, but the overall beauty of the area was amazing.

The Panorama Route has plenty more sites to see/visit and to take it all in, many people do it over a 2-day period. There are some lovely inns along the route where you can overnight. But, even if, like us you say, you don't have that much time... just a taste of the beauty is worth it. And, as you say, you hope to return.

So go for it.
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:24 AM
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For anybody who has done this Panorama Route tour, would you say that it would be too taxing to do a morning game drive, return to the lodge for breakfast, do the Panorama Route tour (possibly from 9:30AM - 4:00PM) return to the lodge for no more than about an hour, and then go off on the evening game drive?

Simbambili offers this tour and it does look like it would be incredibly scenic and make for some very good photographs.

One other possibility...if I checked out of Simbambili by 10AM, would it be possible to do this tour and possibly schedule it on the way back to Joburg in time for an 8PM flight? That way I would be nice and burned out for my return home, but at least I would be flying business class flight back to London.

I will be at Simbambili for 3 nights. I suppose I would be willing to give up one morning game drive, if absolutely necessary to do this tour in a relaxed manner. I am not sure that I would want to give up a night game drive...probably not.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:26 AM
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Here is a very nice web page regarding the Panorama Route.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 03:47 AM
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Roccco -

If you read my earlier post above, this is what we did our last day. Departed Singita at 10AM and did the route towards the Nelspruit Airport (departure 6pm - 1-hr to JNB) and checked in for the 8pm departing flight to JFK. So it's doable and we had a wonderful guide.

However, as mentioned above, we did run into fog on that day which inhibited some viewing; still a great way to end our entire trip... with amazing scenery. Time of year might determine the weather for your drive (we did the Route beginning of December). Glad we did it and something for you to consider.
Jul 2nd, 2005, 12:29 PM
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We included the Panorama Route on our way back from Kruger in April. The scenery - even with the fog - was magnificent. However, I would not bother with Pilgrims Rest. It was so overrun with tour buses that we drove in, turned around and continued on our way. We spent the night at a lovely hotel called the Mt. Sheba Inn (I think). The hotel sits in a preserve of some sort and has lovely hikes through indiginous forest (a great change from all the pine plantations that you see along the way). The food was quite good, too.
cokie is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 04:57 PM
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We just got back from a wonderful trip to Africa (still recovering from 30 hours in transit). We decided to forgo the firstr evening game drive aty Sabi Sands and to take a tour of the Panorama region. What a wonderful place! I would encourage you to see it. The views into the canyon are stunning. Borke's Luck Potholes is an amazing place. And if you get a guide who really knows the history of the area, it can be even better. If you stop for lunch - I recommend going to Hattie's Pancake House in Graskop. it isn't your usual breakfast pancake. They take a variety of stew type fillings and wrap a wonderful pancake around it. Very delicious and filling!
jcasale is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 08:16 PM
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Okay...I have more specific information than I had before.

My departing flight to London does not leave Johannesburg until 9PM. If I were to do my morning game drive and have a quick breakfast at Simbambili, getting on the road by 10:30AM, would it be possible to have a leisurely Panorama Route tour and still be at the Joburg Intl. Airport by 7PM to allow 2 hours before my flight?

Basically, I would have 8.5 hours to get from the northern Sabi Sand to Joburg, with a mid afternoon lunch somewhere along the way.

Yes, I realize I could probably return to the Sabi Sand and then get a 6:30PM flight, but part of the reason I am also doing this is to get a nearly free Panorama Route tour.

If I fly one-way from Cape Town to Nelspruit, it is $348 pp. However, if I add a flight back to Joburg, the cost goes up by $175 pp. Well, for about $250 pp, I can get the Panorama Route including a transfer to Joburg Intl. Airport, so it is only $75 pp more for the tour, where if I did the tour only, it is around $250 pp.

Plus, if I were to fly into Joburg at the normal time after checking out of Simbambili, I would be back in Joburg by about 1PM and then have 8 hours before my flight to London. I don't really want 8 hours in Joburg. I have already done the Soweto Tour, and any other tour I do will NOT likely come close to matching up to the Panorama Route tour.

I don't want to skip my morning game drive, since I will only have six game drives in the Sabi Sand as it is.

I wish to book my direct flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit in the next couple days so must make a decision, since if I book a one-way flight from Nelspruit (or Hoedspruit) to JNB later, it will cost more than if I did it with my CPT - Nelspruit ticket.

Roccco is offline  
Jul 28th, 2005, 08:18 PM
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To clarify, I would be driven all the way from the Sabi Sand to the Joburg airport, doing the Panorama Route tour along the way.

From the Panorama Route to Joburg, how many hours additional driving? I don't want to go one hour out and already be at the Panorama Route and then have four hours after the Panorama Route to Joburg. I am thinking that the Panorama Route is already 1/3 of the way back to Joburg. Is this correct?
Roccco is offline  
Jul 29th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Roccco -

As I recall the Panorama Route is entirely in the Mpumalanga area west of Kruger. Running north/south and a bit west. So you can hit various parts of the route between the Hoedspruit and Nelspruit airports. It's not like you're actually heading to JNB.

Stop into Barnes & Nobles and in the Frommer's South Africa book they have maps of the Panorama Route with the various sights to see noted. I haven't been able to find a map online, though I'm sure there is one with a little work... unless someone has a link for one such map.

To really "do" the Panorama Route you need 2 or 3-days, but one day gives you a taste of a few highlights. And if you get a clear day, the scenery, if nothing else, is wonderful. As a reminder, the flight from Nelspruit is 1-hr to JNB.
Jul 29th, 2005, 06:37 AM
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Thanks. Maybe I will make it a day tour on one of my days at Simbambili. I was told that it would not be difficult to rent a car and do a self-drive. Then I would be able to invite along my fellow Fodorites in camp. It would be probably 25% the cost of booking a tour with an operator.

I guess I am looking for some activity in the Sabi Sand area to keep me busy for a few hours after I check out of Simbambili. Given that it will be September and not too warm by then, maybe I could schedule a mid-day game drive? Or, there is some cheetah sanctuary nearby but I cannot imagine that taking more than an hour onsite.

Finally, maybe I just fly back to Joburg like a good boy, and then check my luggage into the downstairs baggage check facility and head over to Sandtor for 4 or 5 hours. I just know that I will wish I was staying longer in Sandton and regret having to turn right around and go to the airport.

I'll figure something out, but I am still at a loss, for now.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 29th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Hi Rocco,

It takes about 6 hours to drive from the Sabi Sand to Joburg. Personally, I wouldn't want to spend six hours of my holiday on the road, but that's a personal preference. So that leaves you with about 2.5 hours -- not a lot of time to see or do anything other than have lunch.

The cheetah sanctuary is a long drive from the Sabi Sands -- about 2 hours each way (north/south, not heading out towards Joburg). Plus, the cops along that route are notorious for stopping tourists for 'speeding' even if all of the locals are passing you and leaving you in the dust. It's not really doable within the time frame you've outlined, unless you can arrange pickup from Hoedspruit for your airport transfer (which would avoid a round-trip to the Sabi Sand). Last time I looked the tours only took place at specific times (830 and 1330) which doesn't really fit your schedule.

I think you'd be better off doing a Panorama tour while at Simbambili rather than trying to do it on your way out.

jasher is offline  

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