My followers know by now that I live in Mozambique, just 100km away from the border with South Africa.
South Africa is an amazing and diverse country with spectacular landscapes, from pristine wetlands, to mountains and beautiful beaches, not to mention that they have a plant kingdom of their own – the Cape Floral Kingdom, housing a great number of endemic species.
Luckily for me, Mpumalanga region is very close to me, and one of the most spectacular regions in South Africa. I travel often there, either for shopping (much cheaper and diverse than Mozambique), or simply to relax and get away from a very stressful life.
One of the most amazing places to see is the panorama route, home of the world’s 3rd largest canyon, the Blyde River Canyon, as well as various breathtaking sites, waterfalls, natural reserves, caves and historical towns.
This time I traveled with my son, on a 3 day trip to Mpumalanga, that included a visit to some places I had seen before (but always worth a visit) and a new place that I did read about online – the Graskop Gorge.
Graskop is a small town located on the edge of the Drakensberg mountains and in the Panorama route. It is also very well known for its pancakes and chocolatiers.
It is centrally located in the panorama route and within a short drive (1 hour the maximum) from many scenic places such as the ones above mentioned, the three Rondawels, God’s Window, Pilgrim’s rest (a historic mining town) and the world famous Kruger National Park.
|The town of Graskop is perched on a spur of the Mauchsberg at an altitude of 1,493 meters and dates way back to 1837, when Andries Potgieter passed through with the Great Trek of the Voortrekkers in search of greener pastures in the north. In his memoirs he mentions leaving the woman folk in the area known as Graskop (“grassy peak“) while he went down the escarpment in search of an ox wagon route to Delagoa Bay (now Maputo in Mozambique).
In the 1850’s the Graskop area was a farm owned by Abel Erasmus, an adventurous character in hunting, prospecting and imposing law and order in the area. He was known among the local tribes as Dabula Duzi (“He who shoots at close range.“)
Graskop is also famous for Jock of the Bushveld which dates back to between 1885 and 1887. Paradise Camp is where Sir Percy Fitzpatrick established his camp. Two chapters in his book, namely “Paradise Camp and the Leopard” and “The Baboons” are set in this area. For more info see our special “Jock of the Bushveld” page.
A railway link from Nelspruit through the farm Sabie and onto the farm Graskop was begun in early 1910 – mainly to transport supplies to the booming gold-mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest. The railway line was completed and ready for the opening ceremony on 18th June 1914. Graskop was declared a town later the same year.
Recently a spectacular lift was built in Graskop Gorge, taking the visitors 51 meters down the face of the gorge into the beautiful forest that stands below. Crossing the forest there is a network of wooden walkways & suspension bridges with interactive exhibits. The forest is filled with a spectacular variety of plants, animals, insects and birds.
The gate entrance fee is 20ZAR (approximately 1.6 USD) and the ticket to the lift costs 175ZAR (approximately 15USD). The areas also includes a coffee shop (expensive), a craft market, an art gallery, and the Big Swing. For the most adventurous the Big Swing is a not to be missed attraction as it includes a 68m bungee jumping site on one of the world’s highest cable gorge swings, and a 135m slide that stands at 130m above ground.
The lift only takes a minute traveling at a speed of 1m/s, to get you to the wooden walkways.
That day was extremely hot and humid, but as soon as we stepped out of the lift, there is a soothing and refreshing breeze of air and the temperature was much more friendly. The sounds of birds and insects, the sound of the nearby water fall, the beautiful plants, all of that transports us to a different reality. The reality of a beautiful, pristine world, where you feel free and at peace.
To serve its educational purpose, along the gorge route educational boards are scattered, explaining the forest and the species in contains.
We spent approximately 1 hour, taking the time to read everything and absorb all that beauty and peace surrounding us. After visiting it, the entrance fee, that we found somehow expensive, was totally worth it. If you one day travel to Mapumalanga, make sure you will not miss this place.