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South Africa

Our practical guide to the Panorama route in South Africa

12 July 2018
Panorama Route South Africa

The Panorama route is one of the most famous routes in South Africa. With dozens of breathtaking viewpoints between Sabie, Graskop and Blyde River Canyon. Most of the viewpoints lie along the R532. You read a lot about this popular route online, but it was not clear for us which viewpoints where great and which weren’t.

Practical tips before you start your trip to the Panorama route

It is possible to complete the Panorama route in 1 day, but then you must start your day early in the morning. Most viewpoints are open from 7 o’clock.

 Fuel your car before departing & find out where the nearest gas station is located! The Panorama route is 180 km long from the starting point Three Rondavels to the Sable falls.
 
Since you have to pay a small entrance fee at every viewpoint (between 10 ZAR – 55 ZAR), you better have some cash with you.
 Do not forget that the Panorama route is the 2nd most popular route in South Africa. So don’t expect to be alone there .

We have managed to complete the Panorama route in 1 day (with the necessary attention and time for photos). As a result, we unfortunately have not been able to visit smaller viewpoints. These are indicated on the side of the road with small arrows.

Panorama route

Our Panorama route experience

Which viewpoints you should visit 

As we departed from Lowveld Escape in Hoedspruit, our first stop of the Panorama route was ‘Three Rondavels’ and the last one were the Mac Mac waterfalls.

 

Three Rondavels

The Three Rondavels are three round mountain tops with slightly pointed tops which are very similar to the traditional round or oval African homesteads made with local materials called rondavels. This is why they owe their name! Some locals do call them ‘Three Sisters’.

Panorama route highlights

Three Rondavels

 

Blyde River Canyon

Our personal highlight of the Panorama route! This viewpoint is located at the viewpoint of the Three Rondavels. Here you have a beautiful view of the 25 km long Blyde river that runs through the greenest canyon in the world! Speaking of bucket list goals .

Practical information:
  • Opening hours: 7.00am – 5.30pm
  • Entrance: 55 ZAR per person (prices can change)
  • Ticket is valid the whole day

 

Lowveld Field

This is a less popular stop of the Panorama route and therefore perfect to escape from the crowds. Here you have quite a nice view over the Canyon and in the distance you can see the Blyde river.

Practical information:
  • Opening hours: 7.00am – 5.00pm (sometimes they close earlier)
  • Entrance: free (prices can change)

 

 

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

About 15 km from the Three Rondavels are the Bourke’s Luck Potholes located. These reminded us of the Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The name originates from Tom Bourke who was digging for gold here but unfortunately didn’t succeed. The rock formations are the result of decades of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River

It is beautiful to see, but also very touristy. They build a series of metal bridges which gives a bit an amusement park feeling . Do not get me wrong, but the Panorama route offers so many wonderful locations so as a result you’ll be overloaded.

If photographs are a high priority, whilst walkways around the ridges allow you various angles and viewpoints from where you take pictures.

Practical information:
  • Opening hours: 7.00am – 5.30pm
  • Entrance: 55 ZAR per person (prices can change)
  • Ticket is valid the whole day
Panorama route

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

Panorama route Zuid-Afrika

Panorama route – Bourke’s Luck Potholes

 

Lunch in the Boskombuis

15 km from Bourke’s Luck Potholes towards Graskop is the traditional African restaurant ‘Boskombuis’ located. It is the perfect place for typical African dishes combined with a beautiful view. A dish is about 8 euros per person and the food is good. It is a fairly long dirty road when you leave the R532 but eventually you arrive at the Boskombuis parking lot. The restaurant is located on a river and is completely surrounded by pure nature. All dishes are prepared by real Big Momma’s. If you want a photo of one of the chefs, you better ask first. Not everyone loves the camera .

Panorama Route
Panorama route - restaurant
Panorama route
Panorama route

The view from Boskombuis restaurant

Panorama route lunch

Boskombuis restaurant

 

 

Lisbon Falls

This is the most beautiful waterfall in the Panorama route and its surroundings. With its 94 meters it is the highest waterfall in the Mpumalanga region.
If you want to take a nice photo, it is better to go down a bit. Take the small road on the lefthand side of the viewpoint. The view here is much better and the mountains in the background are also visible! 

Practical information:
  • Opening hours: 7.00am – 5.30pm
  • Entrance: 10 ZAR per person (prices can change)
Panorama route waterfall

Lisbon Falls – Panorama route

 

 

Which viewpoints are overrated?

 

God’s Window

In contrast to the images where often Blyde River Canyon is displayed instead of God’s Window, this viewpoint is nothing more than a viewpoint over the Lowveld. If you love impressive views, you better go to the viewpoint of the Blyde River Canyon.

Read here everything about God’s Window and Blyde River Canyon.

Panorama route

God’s Window viewpoint

 

The Pinnacle Rock

We simply skipped this viewpoint from the Panorama route. Since everyone found this very disappointing.

 

Mac Mac Falls

This waterfall was our last stop but unfortunately not a highlight. The Mac Mac falls is a waterfall that falls hundreds of meters down. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? This was before they put a high gate around the viewpoint, bummer …

Panorama route watervallen Zuid-Afrika

Mac Mac falls – Panorama route

 

A rental car is a must 

South Africa is a beautiful country that is about 40 times the size of Belgium. The best way to discover South Africa is by car. As with any tourist destination, there is an extensive range of car rental companies, which means that making a choice can be difficult.

Our loyal partner for rental cars is Sunny Cars. This is a Dutch car rental company that operates almost anywhere in the world. Why we now like to work with them is because of their ‘all-in formula‘. You do not have to take out additional insurance, no hidden costs and no hassle on the spot.

The Panorama route is a 180 km long route with several impressive viewpoints over the South African landscape. The roads in South Africa are generally quite okay, although you always have exceptions. Driving in the mountains is not without any risk and chippings are a frequent problem. This is why I would recommend everyone to take an all-in formula. Sunny Cars offers various service packages such as Premium, Express and No Guarantee. In this way, everyone finds a package that suits his needs and use.

Link: Sunny Cars South Africa

Our Sunny Cars car

 All our pictures were taken with this camera
 Who wants to know some more about South Africa can find it in this travel guide.
 We stayed in the beautiful villa of  Lowveld Escape

 

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