Mpumalanga …  the province of South Africa that begs to be discovered if only for its beautiful name, which rolls off the tongue like sugar, meaning  “the place where the sun rises”.  Starting in White River, get  ready to explore the famous Panorama Route, which stretches for 250 km into the Blyde River Canyon.

From White River, drive in the direction of Sabie and from there to Graskop, a somewhat touristy town, which for unknown reasons has a disproportionately large number of pancake restaurants.  But the real Panorama route starts here and it is known for its beautiful views, waterfalls and rock formations.

A popular and very busy stop on the way is a viewpoint called God’s Window. Someone should get a marketing prize for coming up with that name. It is a gorgeous place that can be reached via a path that has been cut from the mountain bushes. Once up you can look almost a kilometer deep to the Lowveld.

Pilgrim’s Rest

The Pinnacle
The Pinnacle

In addition to God’s Window, other attractions along the Panorama Route sound like a marketing dream, with names like Wonder View, the Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels. Who would not want to visit these places? For most, a small fee is asked (think of R10-20, not much, but better to know in advance) and although the places are photogenic, don’t expect to be alone.  The popular route is promoted widely and most stops have curio shops that support the local communities and toilets in the parking lots. Be aware that views to the waterfall can be blocked by bathing backpackers on teva’s (sorry, but: ugh!)

Stop for lunch at Pilgrim’s Rest, a picturesque village from the time of the gold rush in the late 1800s. The village is a tourist attraction and was declared a National Monument in 1986. Small shops sell all kinds of art, crafts and other curiosities that would make your grandmother happy. The historic cemetery is beautiful and worth a visit.

Map of the Panorama Route