The pleasant village of Graskop is an ideal base to explore the Panorama Route through the Drakensberg Mountains.
The Panorama Route owes its name to the magnificent views of bizarre rock formations and the Lowveld, a thousand meters below.
Along the route there are always beautiful walks and hikes to waterfalls, old gold mining settlements or historical sites.
As part of the journey from the Kruger National Park, you should plan a boat trip on the reservoir of the Blyde River Dam. In addition to impressive views up to the Drakensberg Mountains, the trip also allows for the sighting of hippos, crocodiles and numerous bird species.
The most spectacular part of the Panorama Route stretches from the Blyde Rivier Dam in the north to Graskop in the south. From south to north the scenic viewpoints are lined up: Pinnacle Rock is a 30 meter high stone pillar of weathered quartzite, which rises as a solitary ledge from the deep forested Driekop Gorge.
On a clear day, the 1730m high God’s Window viewpoint offers majestic views over the plains, the Kruger Park and as far as Mozambique.
A trail leads from God’s Window along the cliffs to the Wonder View lookout point through the rainforest. Again and again views open up over the vastness of the Lowveld.
Before you reach Bourke’s Luck Potholes, 24km north of Graskop, you pass Oswald Pirow’s Grave, the grave of the German-born defense minister and author Oswald Pirow, who – as an anti-communist, anti-Semite and admirer of Hitler – did preliminary work for the theoretical foundation of apartheid policy.
Located at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde Rivers, Bourke’s Luck Potholes are one of the most remarkable geological formations in the country. Over millions of years, the vortex currents of water washed cylindrical pools out of the sandstone of the riverbed.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes owes its name to the self-irony of the gold miner Bourke, who found virtually no gold on his claim, despite correctly analyzing the geologic potential of the prospect, while neighbors on the opposite side of the river actually discovered significant amounts of gold.
The Bourke’s Luck Potholes mark the southern end of the Blyde River Canyon, that stretches north for 26km as a scenic spectacle and is considered the third largest canyon in the world. One of the best views over the meandering ribbon of Blyde River and the canyon, whose walls are covered by dense vegetation, can be enjoyed from Lowveld Viewpoint.
A view of the Three Rondavels, which owe their name to their resemblance to traditional round huts, is waiting just beyond the Lowveld Viewpoint.
Just under 20km west of Graskop you will find the former gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest, whose streets and buildings are now an open-air museum of local mining history with numerous souvenir stores, restaurants, and traveling salesmen.
An adrenaline rush is provided by the Big Swing & Highwire a few kilometers south of Graskop, a combination of bungee and zip line, either freefalling or ziplining into or over the Graskop Falls Gorge.