The Panorama Route is a scenic drive along the Blyde River Canyon (one of the largest canyons in the world), between Johannesburg and Kruger Park. It is a little longer than the more direct route, but worth the extra time. There are a ton of stops along the drive that include waterfalls and beautiful overlooks of the canyon. Most of the stops cost money, but they’re fairly inexpensive. The average price we paid was about 10 rands (~1 USD) per car. However, they only take cash, so make sure you have enough. We started our drive from Sabie and made our way north.
Lone Creek Falls
Our first stop was Lone Creek Falls, and this was my favorite. After you park, it’s a short, 5-minute walk through the woods to the base of the waterfall. While we were there, we only saw a couple other people, which made it feel very secluded. The falls are so tall and it felt incredible to be so close to them! It was very hot out, and I was tempted to go for a swim, but the water was freezing. We just stuck our feet in instead.
Mac Mac Falls
The next waterfall we stopped at looked very similar to the last, but instead of standing at the base of the falls, the view point is from the top of the canyon looking down. You must walk about 10 minutes along a path to get to this point. Unlike Lone Creek, this path isn’t shaded by trees and it was a very hot walk. The viewpoint is quite far from the falls and wasn’t near as good as Lone Creek in my opinion.
Pinnacle Rock is a lookout point that was suggested to us, but in my opinion it could be left off. The official lookout overlooks the Pinnacle Rock, a narrow and tall free-standing rock in an inlet of the canyon. We walked through the bush to a cool unofficial lookout point a little way to the left, where you can see more of the canyon.
God’s Window is another lookout point within Blyde that has a decent hike to get up to the top. There is a small lookout only a few minutes from the parking area, but the rest of the hike is a steady climb uphill. We managed to get there in 15 minutes at a quick pace, but I imagine it could take half an hour for someone going a bit slower. The view at the top was pretty good, although it was a bit hazy when we were there, so we couldn’t see too far.
The next stop is a small restaurant located a short drive from the highway. It is placed next to a beautiful river. They have no power or running water, so be prepared to use an outhouse if needed. All the food is cooked over fire. We tried to stop here on our way to Kruger, but it had just closed at 4 pm. Luckily, we were able to make it on our way back to Johannesburg after Kruger. We stopped for a drink and then enjoyed playing by the river for a bit.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes
This stop was the most interesting in my view. The “potholes” are giant circular holes carved out of the canyon by the swirling eddies of water in the river. There were several tour buses there when we arrived, and therefore lots of tourists crowding the paths. The path from the parking lot is very short and easy, with relatively no elevation change. There are a couple bridges that go over the canyon, making for some interesting photos.
The Three Rondavels is the best lookout spot in the Blyde Canyon. We ran out of time to visit this our first day, but made it here on our way back to Johannesburg. The view overlooks the canyon, Blyde River, and Three Rondavels. The Rondavels are round mountains with slightly pointed tops, which look similar to traditional African houses called rondavels. There were a ton of tourists here as well, but there is not one designated lookout point. The entire top of the canyon is open with great views and plenty of photo ops.
From the Panorama Route, we stayed the night at a lodge in Hoedspruit. The next day was safari time!
Watch my video about our time in Kruger Park, the Elephant Sanctuary, and the Panorama Route below!