Dive into the Panorama!
Words Helene Olivier
Teaser: What do you do when the weekend comes knocking on your door? Mom, wife and fashion & lifestyle blogger, Helene and family, hit the road and explore The Panorama Route.
The Panorama Route is a scenic route along the Mpumalanga Escarpment with Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world, central to it. On entering the Panoramic Route via Long Tom Pass from Lydenburg, at 2 149 metres above sea-level, you travel along the highest tarred road in South Africa. From the crest of Mount Anderson, look down 1 000 metres to South Africa’s largest man- made forest and the town of Sabie (Winner of the Kwela dorp van die Jaar 2012 Competition). This award winning town marked the beginning of our road trip.
If you are a coffee lover you have to start your day with a freshly brewed cuppa at Coffee Etc. “The only place for coffee in Sabie,” according to the locals. Indulge yourself with a slice of their speciality carrot cake, you will definitely burn some calories later at the Mac Mac Pools. This delicious coffee shop is situated inside a secondhand bookshop. While you wait for “The Big Plunger”, browse the books and quirky souvenirs.
Your visit to Sabie is not complete without stopping at Sabie Brewing Company. For all the girls who prefer nice, cosy coffee shops, this was a pleasant surprise. Yes, it’s still a pub, but it’s clean and nicely decorated. A variety of world class beers and a stout, brewed on the premises by master brewer Shaun McCartney, is complimented by a menu that will please all. According to my husband: “The beer is mind blowing.” Made on site and on tap, the six craft beers (soon more) are all different and equally delicious. I especially appreciated the “No preservatives” labels, meaning you don’t get that bloated feeling afterwards! Each beer on the menu is fully described in taste, but also its historical origins. If you have small kids, head for the couch area, where a baby can crawl around while you relax and experience a taste sensation. Otherwise find a spot on the large stoep overlooking the Sabie Mountains. The beer is delicious; the food is great and it’s family friendly.
Next stop: The Mac Mac Pools. This fun-for-all picnic spot is 13 km from Sabie on the Graskop (R532) road. For R20 per person, these pools are a true hidden gem. There’s a nice, relaxed atmosphere and although we were just dropping by for a quick swim, I wished we could chill there for a day. Families were relaxing on the grass, the smell of boerewors rolls was hanging in the air. Kids were running around, while Mom and Dad watched from under the large trees. The scenery is amazing and the water is refreshingly cold; brace yourself, dive in and swim to the nearby waterfall. The not so brave can still have a ball and splash around in the shallow pool, surrounded by majestic mountains.
The restrooms are not great, but we quickly changed into dry clothes for our next stop, the tourist mekka of the Lowveld: Graskop.
You might remember a famous dog called Jock? Jock of the Bushveld is just one of the reasons why Graskop is famous. It might be a quaint little town nestled between the mountains but it is bustling with tourists. Trying to find a parking spot in the always busy Church Street is a challenge. But the moment you step outside, you are drenched in the vibe and feel of Africa; brightly coloured stalls with handmade products everywhere, overeager sellers trying to tell you why you need a huge wooden giraffe, the sound of African drums and other handmade instruments, and an eclectic mix of locals and tourists. We headed to our favourite spot and probably the most iconic restaurant in Graskop: Harries Pancakes. They have great coffee and obviously the best pancakes, but be warned: You might wait a while for a table (and your order). Make sure to order a creamy cappuccino and the proudly South African bobotie pancake. Also never leave without sharing (or having your own) milk tart pancake. It’s. To. Die. For. Promise.
With tired feet and full tummies we headed home. That’s enough for one day!
Where to Eat:
The Sabie Beer House
Where to Play:
The Mac Mac Pools
- Get up early and get your first cuppa of coffee at Coffee Ect.
- Draw money at the ATM in Sabie for entrance fee to the Mac Mac Pools and waterfalls.
- Bring a plastic bag – your clothes are going to be wet after swimming in the Mac Mac pools.
- Pack a set of dry clothes.
- Wear sneakers and comfortable clothing.
- Wear sunscreen – the Africa sun is fierce in the Lowveld!
- Have fun and take lots of photos.
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