Diana and David's visit to South Africa 2010 - Drakensberg Escarpment, Mpumalanga

When the Drakensberg are mentioned most people think of the mountains in KwaZulu-Natal bordering Lesotho, however the Drakensberg range extends northwards through South Africa and in Mpumalanga has formed an escarpment with the Lowveld to the East and the Highveld in the West.

We stopped at Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge (S24 52.064 E30 41.715) which was a 'holiday village' with a shop, pools, games area, spa rooms etc in a small game reserve with driving and hiking trails.

On our way to Crystal Springs we visited Pilgrim's Rest, an old mining town (S24 54.478 E30 45.410). Gold was discovered in the area in the 1870s and camps were set up which were later replaced by houses. The town went through periods of prosperity and poverty depending on the price of gold and the various conflicts in the area and the world. The last mine was shut down in 1971. The Transvaal Provincila Administration purchased the town in 1974 and in 1986 it was proclaimed a National Monument. Since then it has been preserved and restored as a living museum.

Cottages where miners lived.

The churchyard overlooks the town.

The main street.

There are displays in the Visitor's Centre.

One of the restored houses.

The next day we drove along the 'Panorama Route' which follows the top of the escarpment. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get to see the great views but it was still worthwhile. It's often misty at the top of the escarpment as the hot air from the lowveld meets the colder air at the top of the escarpment and caused the mist - as we experienced!!

Our first stop was at The Pinnacle Rock.

God's Window has fantastic views out over the Lowveld - when it's not misty that is!! The mist has resulted in an area of rainforest at the top of the escarpment.

The view we had from God's Window.

There's a path through the rainforest.

Bourke's Luck Potholes are at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur rivers. The potholes have been carved out by pebbles over over the years.

Below is a waterfall on the Treur River and to the right the gorge carved out by the Blyde River. The bridges give access over the gorge and you can then wander over the rocks to get to the Treur RIver.


The low river level meant that we had a good view of the potholes.

At every stop along the escarpment the local people have stalls selling craftwork - we bought several things.

At one stop these Batgotuwe ladies were singing and dancing with great energy.

Our final stop was at The Three Rondavals (rondavals are traditional african round houses). The weather had improved slightly so we had a reasonable view. This is the same river valley (The Blyde) that we saw at the potholes but by this time it has carved out a deep canyon.

The river in the bottom of the canyon.

In the distance we could see part of the Blydepoort Dam.

These tiny flowers were in an area that had recently been burnt.

I got up during the night, noticed that the moon was full and managed to get this photo.

1. Richmond.

2. Giant's Castle and Royal Natal Reserves, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal.

3. Rorke's Drift, Isandlwana and Blood RIver battlefields, KwaZulu-Natal.

4. Hlane Royal National Park,, Swaziland.

5. Kruger National Park.

6. Arathusa Safari Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

7. Drakensberg Escarpment, Mpumalanga.

8. Johannesburg.


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