A leisurely drive down Waterfall Lane - Spectacles on the famous Panorama Route
One of the many wonderful attributes of Mount High Country Estate is its perfect positioning, nestled at the start of the famous Panama Route. Whilst the activities on the farm and its immediate surroundings allow for endless hours of relaxation and mountain invigoration, indulging and unwinding, it’s exhilarating to head out onto the open roads and explore what this magnificent part of the world has to offer. Revered as one of the most breathtakingly beautiful routes in the country, that’s centred around the Blyde River Canyon - the world’s third largest canyon - there are an abundance of spectacular nature trails, waterfalls, winding roads, scenic lookout points, quaint towns and age-old sites to visit. As you pivot from the homestead of Mount High, taking to new routes every day, you can spend the time you wish to, slowly cruising through the vastness of the valleys, along mountain roads and return back to the comfort and familiarity of the country estate. One thing we often forget to do when we venture out into the wilderness on an adventurous holiday with our beloved friends and family, is to take it all in our strides. Instead of overdoing the activities with jam-packed itineraries, flinging ourselves from pillar to post in a frenzy of ticking it all off the list, it’s often way more fun to travel with an easy schedule. To go slow and take it all in as we go. Absorbing the wonderment of the beauty that surrounds us. Removing all sense of urgency and allowing the flow of the fun and discoveries to unravel.
We recently took a day trip out onto the meandering mountain roads that begin from our front doorstep. From Lydenburg we traversed the roads that lead us through the Mount Anderson Catchment Reserve, hunting picnic spots beside waterfalls, easy hiking trails, quirky towns with their creative cafés and delicatessens, trout farms and tobogganing tracks, craft breweries and market stalls. Without putting too much pressure onto our driver’s shoulders and into our itinerary - knowing that there’d be a lot of marvelling at the scenery and the need to stop off whenever we chose, to snap away at the beautiful sights and breathe in the mountain air - we leisurely cruised the country roads.
As we drove the R37, that later becomes the R532 - through Alpine forests and timber plantations - we came across a plethora of magnificently beautiful waterfalls cascading over cliffs. The odd signpost lead us down gravel roads to some lovely scenic spots and lookout points where freshwater streams and rivers flow through the valley. Named after the Scottish gold miners of the late 19th Century, Mac Mac Rock Pools, between Sabie and Graskop, was the first stop-off. Laidback picnic spots are scattered beneath the trees beside the rock pools. Though they are beautiful to look at, unfortunately swimming in the pools is not permissible. Should you feel like a wander along the riverbeds, a 3km hiking route - the Secretary Bird trail - leads you through the grasslands. A little further upstream and you arrive at the Mac Mac Falls which are as high as 65 metres. Its verdant indigenous vegetation below the waterfalls has been declared a national monument. Lisbon Falls in Graskop is the highest waterfall in Mpumalanga. Named after Portugal’s capital city, in honour of the European miners that worked the gold mines in the area, the majestic views of the falls can be enjoyed from the platform as you witness the water spray the air and fall a total of 94 metres. Berlin Falls - of course, another European capital, named for the same reason - is a result of the Sabine River dropping 45 metres down a cliff face, forming what appears to be a depiction of a candle flame. We advise you to plan ahead of your day trip with more information on all of the waterfalls of the area, and the ones that you’d like to visit most - as well as any entrance fees or tariffs to consider when visiting the falls - as there are too many to fit into one day without it being a big rush!
We ventured on to the Graskop Gorge Lift that’s embedded into the canopy of the forest. A wonderful few hours can be spent here alone, with its incredibly informative and educational gallery spaces, listing the plant species, conservation practices and protected vegetation that’s all
indigenous to the prevailing nature reserve. You’ll get to walk the long, winding walkways through the trees, beneath the waterfalls. Perhaps the big swing or zipline across the gorge as you get to take in the most incredible views. Or just a long, meandering walk over the suspension bridge, down the lift and through the forest. There’s also a café and a huge curio store for a quick meal and some holiday memorabilia. For more information - Click Here.
Given the gradual escape of time with the day, having immersed ourselves in so much natural beauty and sheer exhilaration of the expanse of the landscape, we began the winding road home. A little stopover at Long Tom Toboggan at Misty Mountain for some more cheers and shrills from the adrenalin fanatics in the family. Then onto Hops Hollow Country House for a delicious craft beer. Deemed the highest pub in the country, you’ll get to enjoy your brew with the view!
Then - just like we did - you’ll return home to Mount High, to the fire, the feasting around the long dining table, with all of the kitchen stories coming to life. It’s been a glorious day exploring just a tiny tip of the enchanting Panorama Route. There’s so much more still to come in the days ahead of your family holiday in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. So many more memories to make and so many more little treasures await. As we venture out onto the open roads, exploring everything on the beaten and not-so-beaten paths, we plan on letting you know all about them.