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A long, but very scenic drive around the Panorama Route, in the Blyde River Canyon area
Generally well surfaced tarred roads, which are very twisty and hilly. The section from Ohrigstad to Echo caves is very pot-hole infested, and care needs to be taken over some of the rougher sections. Tractors suddenly appearing in front of you are an additional harzard in the farmed areas.
Hazards and warnings
Personal safety: In general this is a safe area, but locals have reported cars being broken into at some of the stops.
A drive from Blyde River Canyon Lodge, then around the Panorama route, and back via Ohrigstad. Lots of great scenary, plus a chance to see some of the complex and often turbulent history of this area.
There are many facilities for tourists along the way, as this is a popular destination. But, it's worth remembering that the distances between petrol stations are quite large, and you need to keep an eye on the fuel gauge, as you burn through a lot of fuel on the big, long climbs.
The scenic overlooks over the canyon (3rd biggest in the world appearently) are amazing, as is the view from God's Window. However, in winter, haze is a problem and the views may be restricted, especially later in the day. At other times, clouds may obscure the view.
Graskop is the main town on the route, and offers a good selection of places to eat, including the Silver Spoon and Harry's Pancakes, plus many shops and street vendors catering to the passing trade.
Pilgrims Rest is a town which preserves many of the buildings from the mining boom in the late 19th century and retains a air of the time, although it's also something of a tourist trap.
Ohrigstat is a small town serving the surrounding farm lands, and offers food and fuel. Nearby are various monuments dedicated to the voortrekkers who passed through this area.
There are many side trips to extend the route to visit other points of interest, such as Lisbon Falls (near Berlin Falls), and the series of waterfalls between Graskop and Sabie, including the Mac Mac falls. These can be skipped or added depending on your inclination and time available.
I drove this route on a clear winter day. The Panorama route is amazing, but some of the other bits are equally good. The view of the Drakensberg mountains from the low velt to the east is not to be missed, as is the drive over Robbers Pass.
The twisting roads, over high mountain passes are hard driving, but quite fun if you enjoy the challenges of mountain driving.
After leaving Graskop, I noticed fuel was getting low. The climb over Robbers Pass made the low fuel light come on, and I was getting pretty concerned when I rejoined the R36. Thankfully there are several petrol stations in Ohrigstat, as I wouldn't have made it back otherwise.
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