Des­ti­na­tion This win­ter head for the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga

go! Platteland - - CONTENTS - TEXT AND PHOTOS WILLEM VAN DER BERG

When the Highveld is bar­ren and dry in win­ter, take refuge in the green­ness of the Panorama Route, where you will also find plenty of lovely peo­ple. We popped in at Sa­bie, Pil­grim’s Rest and Graskop.

You will of­ten hear peo­ple say­ing that ev­ery part of the coun­try has its own charm, and that’s true. But one can’t deny that some ar­eas are sim­ply more beau­ti­ful than oth­ers. No mat­ter how im­pres­sive the red ex­panses of the north­west­ern Free State may be, they can’t lay claim to be­ing more beau­ti­ful than Golden Gate or the rolling sand­stone hills of the east­ern Free State.

Declar­ing one area the most beau­ti­ful of all could spark some trou­ble, al­though the Panorama Route around the towns of Sa­bie, Graskop and Pil­grim’s Rest is a strong can­di­date for such a beauty con­test. View­ing points with names like God’s Win­dow and Won­derview aren’t found be­hind just any old kop­pie or ridge. And find­ing this num­ber of wa­ter­falls, sparkling streams, deep gorges and high moun­tains in one area is more rare than the ex­is­tence of a chubby Mr Iron­man.

In the mid 19th cen­tury, how­ever, peo­ple did not come here for the beau­ti­ful sur­rounds. This part of the world was malaria-free and brim­ming with gold, which at­tracted many game hun­ters and trans­port rid­ers to make this their home base. And peo­ple, with pans and sieves in hand, de­scended from all over the world to find their for­tune in the streams of the re­gion. >

In win­ter, the ev­er­green man-made forests along the Panorama Route pro­vide a wel­come change from the dull land­scape of the sum­mer-rainfall ar­eas. This photo was taken north of Graskop, on the R532.

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