The Panorama Route winds its way through the Mpumalanga highlands of the north-eastern section of the Drakensberg’s great escarpment.
The Panorama Route is easily one of South Africa’s most scenic self-drives, and certainly one of its most popular.
That it is so popular has a lot to do with how close it is to the Kruger National Park, so it’s often part and parcel of any organised trip through the game park. But its other major draw card is the Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest river canyons on earth.
The Panorama Route is a self-drive taken slowly. And with highlights like Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, the Three Rondavels and Kadishi Tufa waterfall, it’s no wonder.
Here are some of the best places to stay on the Panorama Route
umVangati is really exciting and all about the views! The slow-down, de-stress haven lies exposed to the kind of mountain vistas about which you only dream. Its name – umVangati – is the Swazi name for the Kiaat tree, the timber used throughout the house (the owner hand crafted the doors, cupboards, kitchen and furniture).
If you’re after luxury (visitors recommend the separate chalet rooms for best views) and a unique experience, book now!
This is a classy little hotel that manages to combine modern luxury and style with a hint of baroque in its chandeliers, mirrors and colonial gardens.
It occupies what was once a local avocado homestead on the outskirts of town with easy access both to the Kruger National Park and to the Panorama Route.
Muluwa Lodge, on the Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate offers luxury safari tent style accommodation on wooden decks overlooking the bush, as well as luxury bedrooms.
Beautiful views out over the valley and surrounding mountains and the chance of seeing plains game, like zebra, giraffe and nyala right next to your tent or the pool add to the experience. All the accommodation faces east so that you see the sunrise.
You’ll find this country house villa set in amongst 60 hectares of bushveld in the Peebles Valley between White River and the Numbi Gate of Kruger National Park.
The house caters only for private groups of between 2 and 10 people, who then have exclusive use of the house (umSisi Cottage is a self-catering option for up to 4 people).
Bambuu Lakeside Lodge rests on the banks of a lake surrounded by farmland not far outside Hazyview. It’s a beautiful, peaceful setting with modern, spacious and beautifully furnished bedrooms, good food and rave reviews from those who add that the photos do not do it justice.
You might even manage to see the odd hippo in the river or let the lodge arrange a safari day tour for you.
Another peaceful escape on the edge of the lowveld with superb views of the garden and surrounding hills, Abangane Guest Lodge is a great stay close to the Kruger National Park (they’ll arrange a game drive for you and even pack you a cooler bag of goodies to take along) and the Blyde River Canyon.
There’s even a pool with the most amazing views.
Perched overlooking the lowveld forest of the Sabie River Valley on the edge of Hazyview, Tanamera Lodge is a series of thatched chalets each with its own veranda and plunge pool (the honeymoon suite also has an outdoor shower and large stone tub).
Tanamera offers the perfect downtime between the Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route.
The pictures in this particular offering don’t do it justice.
Reviews rave about the romance of the B&B or self-catering venue that lies in the heart of indigenous bush; an intimate, private experience where each cottage has its own spa-bath on the patio, leaving one with the space and the effortless quiet (breakfast brought to you at your cottage) to unwind and de-stress.
Eagle’s View Eco Estate rests atop a ridge of the God’s Window escarpment of Graskop offering some of the best landscape views around.
Khoza House offers four en-suite bedrooms, a covered patio, two reception areas, and a one bedroom chalet. The 50 seater restaurant has great views onto the lowveld.
If you HAVE enjoyed this article you might also be interested in the Rough Guides article on Road Trips in South Africa: Five of the Best.