The Blyde River Canyon is the centrepiece of the Panorama Route, a fabulous scenic drive through the verdant Mpumalanga lowveld, northeast of Johannesburg. It’s a very worthwhile, minor detour between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park, with a seemingly endless procession of waterfalls and spectacular views.
Highlights of the destination
This was a gold-rush area in the 19th century and at the southern end of the canyon the old mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest has been preserved as a national monument. You can even try your hand at panning for gold in the Blyde River which runs through the village. As you head north you’re into the canyon proper. Look out for the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where years of swirling water and rocks have carved out deep, smooth holes in the canyon bed. The viewpoint of the Three Rondavels peaks is nearby, and from there you can drive south to the panoramic views at God’s Window and Pinnacle Rock. Boat cruises, flights and guided tours are also available.
Practical + driving advice about the destination (time needed)
If you’re driving between Johannesburg and Kruger, you’ll need to leave very early to see the canyon properly without fear of arriving late for the park gate. Avoid rushing and spend a night in the area – there are excellent lodges, cottages and campsites around Sabie, Graskop and Hazyview. The roads along the canyon are paved and suitable for all types of vehicle.