Accommodation, Graskop, South Africa, Self Catering, Mpumalanga





We simply need this wild country available to us even if we do no more than drive to its edge and look in, for it can be a means of measuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, as part of the geography of hope...

Prof. Wallace Stegman

Stanford University


From Gauteng, the high plateau grasslands of Mpumalanga stretch eastward for hundreds of kilometres, offering outstanding attractions, specially for those who seek tranquillity. Witbank, the first major town in this region, is the centre of the local coal mining industry, while the Botshabelo Mission Station near Middelburg is a romantic reminder of the days when the African veld was a frontier land. To the east, the brisk cool highlands around Belfast, Dullstroom, Machadodorp and Lydenburg compromise one of the few remaining natural highveld areas in Mpumalanga and provide well-stocked trout streams and spectacular scenery.

The town of Graskop is perched on a spur of the Mauchsberg at an altitude of 1493 metres and dates way back to 1837, when Andries Potgieter passed through with the Great Trek in search of greener pastures in the north. In his memoirs, he mentions leaving the womenfolk in the area now known as Graskop, which means grassy peak, while he went down the escarpment in search of a route to Delagoa Bay, now Maputo.


In the 1850's, the Graskop area was a farm owned by Abel Erasmus, an adventurous character involved in hunting, prospecting and imposing law and order in the area. He was known among the local tribesman as Dubala Duzi ' He who shoots at close range'.


Graskop is also famous for Jock of the Bushveld which dates between 1885 and 1887. Paradise berg is where Sir Percy Fitzpatrick established his paradise camp, and two chapters in his book, namely' Paradise camp and the Leopard' and 'The Baboons' are set in this area.


In 1873, gold was discovered in nearby Pilgrim's Rest and by 1911 a railway to the area had become necessary. Graskop was the nearest settlement accessible by rail and by 1914 the railway was completed and the town of Graskop blossomed. In 1972, the mining activities at Pilgrim's Rest ground to halt and today the railway line is used to serve the large timber industry in the area. Graskop has since developed into the focal point of tourism for the escarpment.




Scenic Drives

Panorama Route (North on R532)



This scenic route commences along' the R532 at the top of Louis Trichardt Ave., signposted Ohrigstad, which goes directly to the Blyde River Canyon, while the scenic route R534, a 15,4km loop along the escarpment, branches off to the right at 2.2km and rejoins the R532 at a point 8.1km from Graskop.


Pinnacle Rock is a tall column of weathered quartzite littered with bright aloes. It rises 30m above the indigenous forest in the surrounding Driekop gorge. A source of the Ngwaritsana river cascades through the dark depths of the narrow cleft on the right at the head of the gorge.


God's Window at an altitude of 1730 m, offers magnificent views across the Lowveld, Kruger National Park and the Lebombo mountain range in the distance. The nature reserve at God’s Window includes a rain forest and beautiful Aloe gardens scattered with large outcrops of sandstone, weathered into haunting prehistoric shapes. A trail leads through the rain forest along the escarpment edge towards Wonder View affording panoramic views over a vast expanse of the Lowveld.


Lisbon Falls are a spectacular 95m treble cascade that tumbles into the dark green pools far below. Lisbon creek is typical of the area where early diggers panned for gold.


Berlin Falls were named after the farm on which they are situated and are 45m high. They originated as a result of the differential weathering resistance of the local rocks. The scene should not be missed as there are some excellent vantage points revealing the entire drop.


From Berlin falls the route passes through dense pine plantations and some 33km from Graskop, eventually links up with the course of the Treur river and the upper reaches of the Blyde River Canyon. The tall rock faces of the canyon are coated with beautiful orange and yellow lichen, which glow strongly in the late evening light.


Voortrekker Monument commemorates the epic journeys of both Louis Trichardt and Andries Hendrik Potgieter in their attempts to establish trade contacts with the Portuguese in Delagoa Bay.


The trek under Louis Trichardt ended in disaster, when after having crossed the Lowveld, their oxen started to die from the Nagana disease caused by the Tsetse fly, while fever caused by the malaria mosquito began to make its appearance amongst the Voortrekkers. Determined to reach Delagoa Bay before they all succumbed in the wideness, they pushed on in haste. They reached Delagoa Bay on the 13th 0! April 1838 and it seemed that their difficulties were over, but one after the other contracted the fever. Twenty seven died including Louis Trichardt. It was a sad ending to such a heroic journey.


Seven years later another attempt was made by the Voortrekkers under the leadership of Andries Potgieter. Coming from a southerly direction, their path was blocked by the Drakensburg mountain range. During their efforts to cross the mountains, Kasper Kruger, father of Paul Kruger, found a negotiable route, which to this day is known as Casper's Nek. They then reached the escarpment and outspanned in the vicinity of the present day town of Graskop.


Faced with the daunting descent to the Lowveld, Potgieter decided to leave their wagons and families behind, arranging that those left behind would return to their homes without them after a stipulated period. when the agreed departure date came, with no sign of the explorers, they named the river where they were camped, Treur (Sorrow), believing that the party had succumbed in the wideness. A few days later, while fording another river, they were overtaken by Potgieter and his party who had successfully made the journey to Delagoa Bay and signed a trade agreement with the Portuguese on the 22nd of July 1844. Such was the joy on being reunited that the river was named Blyde (Joy).


Bourke's Luck Potholes at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde rivers is one of the most remarkable geological phenomena in the country .Through millions of years, the swirling whirlpools which occur at the confluence, have caused water born sand and rocks to grind deep cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the rivers.


At the visitors centre, some of the interesting nature and socio-historic features of the reserve are on display.


The potholes are named after Tom Burke who recognised the gold potential of the area. He became involved with the mining enterprise which owned the properly. However, there is an element of irony in the name, as the main find of gold was not on their ground but on the opposite side of the river.

Blyde River Canyon. A scenic spectacle, the Blyde River Canyon lies within the 27,000 hectares of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, a 57 km belt which runs north from Graskop along the escarpment. Owing to variations in altitude, temperature and-rainfall, a great diversity of vegetation occurs. On the high-lying southern section which has a high rainfall, extensive grassy slopes and dense areas of rain forest with yellow wood, boekenhout, forest silver trees, etc. and ferns are to be found. The central area has mixed Sour Bush veld and thorn trees, while the northern area and foothills are known as the Lowveld Sour Bush veld.


Lowveld View Site is on a flat rocky mountain top at an altitude of 1219m and appears to be 'only a little lower than the canyon peaks. Paths lead to the edge of the 16 km canyon, an awe inspiring view. Fat below the Blyde river foams and tumbles along the rocky canyon floor winding like an enormous green snake and eventually flows into the Blydepoort Dam. Dense vegetation with moss and ferns fill the deep krantzes and the upper rocks are covered with vivid lichen.


Three Rondavels View Site affords magnificent views of the famous peaks of quartzite and shale, known as the three rondavels while the Blydepoort dam lies calm arid serene far below. The poort or mouth of the canyon lies between Swadini and Mariepskop, which was once the scene of a great battle between Swazi raiders from the south and local Bapedi and Mapulana tribesman, who used the flat crest of the mountain as a place of refuge and a fortress whenever they were attacked. The Bapedi and Mapulana tribes became tired of the continual Swazi raids and under the leadership of Chief Maripi Mashile, they climbed to the top of the mountain peak opposite Swadini and bombarded the Swazis with large boulders in what became known as the battle of Moholoholo, 'the great, great battle '. The Swazis were heavily defeated and thereafter the mountain was named Maripi in honour of the Mapulana chief.


Continue on the R532 across the rolling mountain grasslands, gradually leaving the canyon behind. Diepkloof is a precarious gorge north of here through which the Ohrigstad river flows, Further on the road descends and goes through the Rietvlei Valley to the junction of Route 36. Turn right at this junction.


Abel Erasmus Pass when gold was discovered in the northern Lowveld, this led to the proclamation of the Selati gold fields and the establishment of Leydsdorp in 1890. A road was soon constructed from Lydenburg via Ohrigstad and down the mountain to the new village. This road was constructed under the supervision of the Native Commissioner of Lydenburg, Abel Erasmus.


The road winds up into the mountains, crossing cultivated valleys and grassy plains with views of the old road on the right, as it winds through a valley and rejoins the tar road. The pass is without doubt, one of the best areas for viewing Lichens. The rocks are coated with a panoply of yellow Lichens complimented by huge rock figs, with thick roots strangling the sheer faces.


The road continues and winds along a ledge above a sheer drop into the tree filled gorge on the left, across from which a waterfall can be seen plunging down the precipitous tree lined sides to the river below. The road descends to the entrance of the 132,3m tunnel, named after a former Prime Minister, J.G. Strijdom and was opened on the 8th of May 1959.


From the view site beyond the tunnel there are magnificent views: below and to the north-east, the Olifants river winds along the valley to a small dam; to the north is Bush veld country and beyond Tzaneen, the mountains of the Northern Province; and to the east, the Lowveld.


Continue on the R36, passing the junction to Tzaneen and follow the R53l to Klaserie (Hoedspruit). It is interesting to note the difference in the environment between the Highveld and the Lowveld which tends to become much harsher and more arid. Turn right at the junction to Klaserie (Orpen Gate) and continue on the R53l for a further lob before turning right to Swadini.


Blydepoort Dam and Nature Reserve The Blydepoort dam is reached by road at the poort or mouth of the canyon between Swadini and Mariepskop. The dam wall is 72m high and the dam has a capacity of 54 million cubic metres. The reserve developed around the dam is the home to a large variety of animals and bird life, including all three species of Louries found in South Africa. The visitors centre has some very interesting displays on the area and is surrounded with a balcony overlooking the dam.


Rejoin the R531 and continue to Klaserie to link up with the R40. The junction at Klaserie can be confusing, keep following the R40 to Bosbokrand (Hazyview). The road between Klaserie and Bosbokrand passes through parts of Lebowa where the countryside is dotted with tiny villages. At Bosbokrand take the R533 to Graskop.


Kowyn's Pass The lower sections of the pass twist through dense Eucalyptus and Pine plantations and eventually climb higher and higher into the lofty regions of the escarpment. The first route through this area was built in 1902, followed by a second route in 1929 and finally the most recent route was opened in 1959. Due to the high rainfalls on the escarpment, dangerous rock falls had been experienced. Engineers incorporated the avalanche-resistance design of the Swiss tunnels to create a more protected passage between the Highveld and the Lowveld which was completed in 1980.


Panorama Route (South on R532)


This route commences along the road to Sabie and Pilgrim's Rest (R532).


Natural Bridge This phenomenon was probably caused by the river weathering away the softer rocks as far as the hard quartzite. The river which is a source of the Mac Mac river, rises south of Hebron, flows past the old prospecting pits before passing through the natural bridge.


Continue on the R532 bearing left at the turn off to Pilgrim's Rest


Maria Shires Waterfall In honour of pioneer, Maria Shires (Born Taylor) 1814 to 1875, whose mortal remains lie buried close by. She was the mother of Joseph Brooke Shires (Junior) a pioneer commercial forester of this region, who planted the first Eucalyptus and Wattle at Onverwacht (now Brooklands) in 1876 and of Ann Maria McLachlan who was presented with the Burgers Cross by President Burgers for her devoted nursing services to the Mac Mac digger community. Her son in law, T. McLachlan together with James Sutherland and Edward Buttons discovered the first gold in the region of Spitzkop on the 14th of May 1873. He later found many other valuable minerals in the region. A truly distinguished pioneering family who opened the way for the gold and tree wealth of today.


Forest Falls These beautiful broad falls, 10m high, on the Mac Mac river, can only be viewed by walking the 3.5km Forest Falls Nature Trail, which starts at the Green Heritage picnic spot.


Jock of the Bushveld, Mac Mac diggers and Transport Riders Memorial. When prospector, Tom McLachlan acquired the farm, Geelhoutboom, gold was found in every stream and the human stream of prospectors followed and were soon busy with shovel, sluice box and pan. This was the richest strike so far and attracted miners from all over the world. Jansen, the Landrost of Lydenburg visited the diggings and under pressure from experienced diggers, organised a digger's committee and appointed an American, Major W. MacDonald as Gold Commissioner. As the members of the Volksraad could not possibly visualise the developments taking place in the area and had only a vague idea as to its location, Jansen suggested that President Burgers should visit the goldfields, which he agreed to. Burgers proved very popular with the naturally suspicious digger community. For a start, he spoke excellent English and the diggers had heard that his wife was Scots. when the President looked over the claim holders, he noticed the predominance of Scottish names, bearing the prefix 'Mac' and said "I am going to call this place Mac Mac".


The role of the transport rider, in providing supplies and equipment to the digger communities should not be overlooked. These transport riders, mostly young man of adventure, were a breed of their own and hauled their wagons and oxen over terrain faced with many hazards and hardships. One of these, Percy Fitzpatrick, later became a well known South African politician.


Mac Mac Falls were declared a National Monument on the 18th of February 1993. Cement pathways and stone steps with safety railings have been provided to gain access to the beet view points, from where one can see the two uninterrupted cascades plunging into the deep densely wooded chasm, with the river twisting 65m below. The Mac Mac diggers were responsible for rearranging the face of the earth a little, by changing the single waterfall into the double waterfall as we see it today.


Mac Mac Pools is a popular picnic area, shaded by a clump of trees on the edge of the shallow rocky river, which drops into a series of rock pools. There are shelters, braai facilities, toilets, picnic spots and a nature walk. The nature walk works its way to the base of the Mac Mac falls, providing magnificent views of the falls from below.


Sabie River Gorge and Falls are situated under the new Sabie bridge which was built on the curve so as to blend in with the natural attraction of the gorge. View site parking is on the right hand side before crossing the bridge. There is a short walk through the Williams Memorial Gardens to view points overlooking the gorge down which the Sabie river plunges 73m.


Bridal Veil Falls which resemble a bride's veil, can be reached by taking the old Lydenburg road until the gravel forestry road on the right at approximately 3km. Mondi Timbers sawmill, one of the biggest in the Southern hemisphere, is situated on the corner at the turnoff. Continue on this gravel road, passing the Ceylon Forest Station on the left and over a narrow bridge to the five road junction. Bear right at the junction (do not turn right) and keep to the main road. Further on a track forks to the right and leads to a stream 300m down the track, the falls can be seen above and ahead. It is advisable to park on the rise and follow the rough track to the left beyond the stream. This track winds through thick vegetation up to the falls which drop 70m into the centre of an amphitheatre at the head of the valley.


Horseshoe Falls are situated 4km on a signposted gravel road off the Old Lydenburg Road. The cascade type falls form a perfect horseshoe when the river is in flood and have been declared a National Monument. This is also the site of one of the first sawmill in Sabie.


Lone Creek Falls are situated 9km from Sabie on the old Lydenburg road. A lovely short walk of 200m through the thick vegetation of the gorge reaches a pool, into which a slender cascade of water plunges over a ledge from a height of 68m. The falls have been declared a National Monument.


Return to the R532 and continue through Sabie taking the right turn to Lydenburg. For other places of interest in Sabie, refer to the section on Sabie.


The Long Tom Pass which links Sabie with Lydenburg, is one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the country, With a summit of 2169m, it is one of the highest major roads in South Africa .From Sabie the road climbs more than 1000m before descending 670m to Lydenburg. The road sweeps smoothly over sharp climbs and descents and it is difficult to appreciate that this pass was once a fearsome natural obstacle.


It was also the scene of a running battle between the Boers and the English in September 1900. A replica of a Long Tom canon stands in the pass, reminding visitors that the pass was named after the Long Tom canons used in the battle there during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).


Olifantsgeraamte The farm, at the Nelspruit turnoff, now a forestry estate, was named from the many skeletons of elephants that were shot in this area.


Koffiehoogte (coffee heights) The first road between Lydenburg and the coast was known as Delagoosberg road. It was constructed over the Mauchsberg in 1873 by the old South African Republic (ZAR). The name Koffiehoogte appears to stem from the transport riders, who stopped in this area to allow their animals to rest and to brew coffee for themselves.


Devil's Knuckles It is not certain where the 'Knuckles' originated from. In 1873, a German. Dr Cohen indicated on a map he made with a pedometer between Delagoa Bay and Lydenburg, the name Devil's Kop. It seems fairly certain that the name was given to these sharp prominences on the watershed by the early settlers. The 'knuckles' were extremely difficult to navigate as they consisted of a narrow ridge (Watershed) between the precipitous valleys on the north and south connecting the escarpment on the west with that on the east. Signs of the original road can still be seen around and over the 'knuckles '.


Old Harbour Road Originally named the Delagoosberg road covers a considerable distance of the pass and may be seen in several places.


Long Tom Shell Hole (Bomgat) was made by one of the shells fired from a Long Tom Canon.


Die Geut (Shute or Gutter) also known as the staircase was a very steep descent which was difficult to negotiate. Ruts can still be seen in the elate, which were scored by the locked wheels of the heavily laden wagons when they were slid down the steep gradient.


Blystaanhoogte was another steep section where progress was so slow that the wagons seemed to be standing still.


Portuguese Mine This mine is no longer accessible to the public, having become too dangerous while it is attributed to the Portuguese, it would seem more likely to have been the Hindu, who also mined gold in Zimbabwe.


Old Trading Post Before the middle of the nineteenth century, Joao (Jiwawa) Albasini (1813-1888) used this post as one of his trading stations scattered throughout the Lowveld and Middleveld regions. Albasini was the first European to settle in the Lowveld in the Lower Sabie area. With the establishment of Ohrigstad in 1845, Albasini moved to Pretoriuskop where he obtained land from the Bakutswe captain, Magashula, for 22 head of cattle and established his trading post next to an old trade route. The remains of these buildings are still in evidence, north of Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park. His bearers made use of this route to carry goods from Delagoa Bay via Magashula's village to Ohrigstad. This trading route eventually became known as the Albasini Route.


Whisky Spruit The most popular origin for the name was that the water was reputedly so good, that it made an excellent drink; regardless of the quality of the whisky.


Mauchsberg' This mo1Ultain was named after the German teacher and amateur geologist, Karl Mauch ( 1837-1878 ), who in 1865 arrived in Natal from where he set out on several journey's of discovery throughout southern Africa, mostly on foot. During his journeys, he made careful geological and geographical surveys, studied the flora and fa1Ula and discovered gold in the Transvaal, including the Witwatersrand. He made maps of every region between Kimberley in the south, Marico in the west, the Soutpansberg in the north and Delagoa Bay in the east. His map of the old Transvaal was correct in every respect and even indicated where coal would one day be mined.


Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve is situated in Lydenburg. The reserve comprises an area of 2,200 hectare, with typical escarpment fauna and flora. This cotU1tryeide was often frequented by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his famous dog, Jock and stayed often at the Lydenburg boarding house.


Continue through Lydenburg and take the R36 to Ohrigstad. For other places of interest in Lydenburg refer to the section on Lydenburg.


Animal Cement Park is situated about 9 km from Lydenburg. There are number of concrete wild animal statues created by the artist, Dick Heysteck.

Steenkamp Bridge is situated approximately 11 km from Lydenburg, slightly upstream of the present Schalk Burger Bridge across the Spekboom river. The bridge was opened on the 21st of June 1897 and was still in use in 1965. It originally had steel railings supported by 2 stone abutments. The bridge was named after Helgard P. Steenkamp, who was a member of the executive Committee of the 2nd Parliament and Commandant of the Lydenburg Commando.


During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), the steel railings were partially destroyed. In 1903 the bridge was rebuilt with stone and was renamed the Spekboom Bridge. In 1973 it was declared a national mon\U1lent and given its '1istorically correct name viz, Steenkamp Bridge.


Continue on the R36 until the junction of the R533, approximately 29km from Lydenburg. Turn right on R533 to Pilgrim's Rest.


Robbers Pass offers magnificent scenery, especially when descending into Pilgrim's Rest valley. This pass originally known as Pilgrim's Hill, was renamed after the coach was held up and robbed of 10,000 Pounds worth of gold bullion, by two masked men in 1899. The gold was never found.


In 1912, Tommy Dennison, once the barber and later the laundryman of Pilgrim. s Rest, made an attempt at a repeat performance of the escapade. Unfortunately for poor Tommy, there was no gold on the coach that day, only coins from the bank, which the disappointed Tommy took anyway. The next rooming he appeared in the village as usual and at all the shops where he owed money, he stopped and settled his debt in half crowns. He paid 160 to the Royal Hotel bar and it was here that the police arrested him. He was sentenced to five years in Pretoria Central Prison, a sentence which most of the villagers felt was a bit heavy.


Upon his release after four years, Tommy returned to Pilgrim's Rest and opened a garage, which to the huge amusement of the residents, he named 'The Highwayman's Garage',

Continue on this road, by-passing Pilgrim's Rest and return to Graskop. For information on the attraction in Pilgrim's Rest, refer to the section Pilgrim’s Rest.




Historic Towns



The first records of Graskop history start in 1843, with the arrival of the Voortrekkers in the area. In 1838 Louis Trichard - in search of a port not under British rule - had reached Delagoa Bay via a particularly arduous route through the Olifants River Valley. This journey was completed at a tremendous cost in lives lost to fever, probably malaria. In 1843 Andries Potgieter - who had just founded Potchefstroom and on the advice of Trichard - took a more southerly route, which turned out to be virtually impossible - let alone arduous!! After negotiating what is known as CASPERS NEK Pass (named after Paul Kruger's father who pioneered this oldest existing road in the region still in use), the party reached the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment down which there was no possible descent at that point, or - by line of sight - 50km in any direction. Leaving the women and children and a few men out spanned on the banks of the river just below the top of the escarpment - with strict instructions that the waiting group return to Potchefstroom if the scouting group had not returned by a date two months into the future - the men went in search of a way down to the Lowveld 1000m below. Access to the Lowveld was discovered to be via an animal track on a land under the control of a local chief named Koveni - hence the Afrikaans translation Kowyn - and onto Delagoa Bay where, for various reasons, the men were delayed. The waiting party, after staying a fortnight longer than instructed, left the river on who's banks they have been anxiously waiting, named it "Treurrivier" (River of Sorrow). A few days later the returning men caught up with their womenfolk on the banks of another river, which was promptly named the "Blyderivier" (river of Joy).



In the year 1850 the farm GRASKOP - so named because of the vast tracts of grassveld and singular lack of trees in the area - was owned by one Abel Erasmus who in later years was to become "native commissioner and magistrate" for the entire Lowveld and escarpment region. The local, indigenous people gave this redoubtable hunter the name "Dubula Duzi", in recognition of the fact that he waited till the very last moment before firing on his quarry.


Gold was discovered in various places all over the region in the 1870's and the GRASKOP area was no exception. Though not as dramatic or lucrative as elsewhere in the region, the watchful eye may still notice the scars of long (and not so long) past mining operations around GRASKOP and Pilgrims Rest. As recently as 1996, the last of the prospecting "characters" in the area decided to hang up his pan.

"Jock of the Bushveld" belongs to the late 1880's and the early 1890's. Two chapters of this classic African tale - namely "Paradise camp" and "Baboons and Tigers" - took place a stone's throw from GRASKOP.


By the 1890's, the need for a more effective route for necessities at Pilgrims Rest - in particular - allowed Max Carl Gustav Leibnitz to make his own fortune. Almost single-handed this man turned the existing animal track into the first "Kowyns Pass" - the present one is the third and was completed in 1957 at a gradient of one in fourteen. The original pass had a gradient in some places of one in three. At the top of the pass Leibnitz built a tollgate and Inn. Leibnitz's original pass could not by any stretch of the imagination be called a road. The ascent was a 2 to 3 day grind of sweat, hard work and foul language. Going down the pass was no game either because huge branches had to be attached to the wagons to assist with braking. Needless to say the trade in liquor was very brisk indeed - even though Leibnitz did not have a licence. This fact, as such, wasn't a problem; but when the magistrate from Lydenburg passed through every second week on his way to the Lowveld, liquor was hastily hidden and there where many irate, thirsty men mumbling themselves to sleep.


On one auspicious occasion the magistrate - who was aware of the illegal liquor trade and didn't mind the odd tipple himself, pointedly asked Leibnitz why he didn't sell liquor. "Who will look after the toll gate while I'm gone for a week fetching a piece of paper?" came the arch reply. At the truth and logic of this the magistrate relented and handed over the necessary forms, which were duly signed and witnessed.




A railway spur from Nelspruit through the farm Sabie and onto the farm GRASKOP was begun in early 1910. This railway line was completed and ready for the opening ceremony on 18th June 1914. GRASKOP was declared a town later that same year. By 1918 GRASKOP had a primary school, church and a store. Talk of the town becoming a farming community was just that, talk. Because of the high rainfall, vegetable and fruit farming was not a viable enterprise. Although there had been cattle around for some time, the predominantly sour grass nature of the veld - which the cattle preferred not o eat, as well as the permanently wet nature of the veld which caused hoof rot, nipped in the bud any idea of cattle or dairy farming on a large scale. As a result of these factors Graskop remained predominantly a railway town.


Then in the late 1920's and early 1930's came the depression. In an attempt to create as many work opportunities as possible, the government of the day decided to plant trees in the area. Trees were always going to be planted here, but the decision turned a fifty year plan into a five year plan as thousands of white men planted the first trees by hand and received a pittance for their labour. That pittance however kept many thousands of loved ones from starving in those dark days. Since the depression and after the cutting of the first trees (as a matter of interest and rule of thumb, the trees in the region only grow for 15 years before they are felled), GRASKOP became a timber town with a little more prosperity than before.

By the time the Second World War started, GRASKOP had a population of 700 people. The town hall had been built and there was a golf course as well as a horseracing track, both of which there is no trace today. The one thing that never changed was the constant stream of tourists who were entranced by the region. Although it was as rough as it could come on the gravel roads of 30 years ago, many people came and were overwhelmed by the splendour which abounded, despite the fact that the roads were virtually impassable in the rainy season and so dust filled during the dry winter months that one had to keep one's distance from the vehicle in front.


At that time the Bourkes Luck Portholes - already a prominent tourist attraction - was spanned by swing bridges and a trip to the Three Rondavels viewpoint was an overnight affair. Many residents of the region are the offspring of men who found that they could - or would - not exist outside the "encircling comfort of these hills". This "encircling comfort of the hills" attracts many hundreds of thousands of people to the Greater Escarpment Tourist region each year.




The Sabie area was popular as a camping and resting place for hunters and explorers long before the discovery of gold. The Sabie river, originally known as 'ULUSABA' (the river of Fear) flows through the town. It obtained its original name from the raging waters and many crocodiles in the river. Sabie is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, Mount Anderson 2284m and Mauchsberg 2115m tower above the town.


Gold was discovered in Sabie by H. T. Glynn during a shooting practice with friends, when a stray bul1et chipped a rock, revealing gold. This led to the discovery of a rich reef and the establishment of the town of Sabie. Initially the indigenous trees were chopped down for use as props in the mines, but fortunately commercial tree planting had been started as early as 1876, which proved useful as the inevitable shortage of timber was soon apparent. The continued planting of Eucalyptus, Black Wattle and various Pines has led to one of the greatest man made forests in the world and one of the biggest sawmills.





Cork Oak Trees Several magnificent specimens, planted in 1938 are situated in front of the Post Office.


Forestry Museum This is the only museum of its kind in South Africa, It originated at the request of Dr. W.G. Winkler from the Anglo American company. In addition to the history of the forestry industry, the museum houses some 372 exhibits, such as one of the oldest boilers used in the Lowveld, an example of the famous Garret steam boiler and the pelton waterwheel. Letters posted at the museum receive a special date stamp. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. An entrance is charged.


Glynn Cemetery The cemetery can be seen by taking the gravel road off Glynn Ave. There are many graves including that of H. T. Glynn who discovered gold in the area and played a major role in the development of the town.


Helbig's Mill A German, named Helbig had a mill which was operated by a waterwheel in the Sabie river, near the falls for grinding mealies. The stanchions for the cable can still be seen in the rock wall.


Hitching Rail old hitching rails for horses are situated outside the First National Bank and old documents of the original Bank are on display inside.


Huntington Hall The home of H.T. Glynn is situated 500m down Glynn Ave. on the right hand side. Travelling to England in search of a wife, he met Miss Gertrude Gilbertson Dales, who at the age of 18 married the 40 year old H. T .Glynn and the couple moved into Huntington Hall. The house was built in 1896 and was named after Gertrude's childhood home.


Hydroelectric Power Station The remains of the first hydroelectric power station can still be seen in the Sabie gorge. Built by Glynn's Lydenburg Mine, it provided Sabie with electric light from 1906.


Jock of the Bush veld Way Marker. Situated on market square, where local farmers displayed their produce, the ml1rker indicates the position of the old transport road used by Sit Percy Fitzpatrick and his dog Jock.


Milder Bridge built in 1915, now serves as a foot bridge, a short distance upstream on the Sabie River.


Nurse's Quarters situated in Third Street, across from the War Memorial Hospital used to house the nurses working at the hospital.


Pewter Foundry The Manx Cat is the only pewter foundry in South Africa. Visitors can watch pewter smithing in progress and as each piece carries the craftsman seal, it is of great value to the collector.


St Peter's Anglican church This beautiful stone church, designed by Sir Herbert Baker for a fee of 10 Pounds Sterling, was built in 1913. The building of the church was financed by H. T. Glynn.


Tile Panels Depicting scenes from the Kruger National Park as it was in the 1930's can be seen on the Post office facade


Tin House. Situated in Fourth Street, this quaint, pre 1910, tin house has six bedrooms.


Wagon Drift is the old drift used by transport riders on the Delagoa / Lydenburg route and was used until the opening of the Milner bridge.


War Memorial Hospital. As a memorial to casualties of war, the 'Comrades of the Great War Society' decided to erect a hospital. The hospital was opened on the 12th of June 1924 and was in use until 1941.


Williams Memorial Garden is a tribute to Gardner Fred Williams, a distinguished mining engineer and author.



Lydenburg (Town of Suffering)


The Voortrekkers, under the leadership of Hendrik Potgieter, abandoned their settlement at Andries-Ohrigstad, which had proved a suicidal site owing to the scourge of the Lowveld in those days -the ubiquitous malaria mosquito. Moving to higher lying areas the town of Lydenburg was founded in 1849. This town became the capital of 'de Republiek Lydenburg in Zuid Africa', from 1857 to 1860, after which it was reunited with the old South African Republic (ZAR).




Voortrekker School is situated in Kerk street near the corner of Kantoor street. The school was built in 1851 and is the oldest building in Lydenburg as well as the oldest school in Mpumalanga. The architecture is typical of the Boer houses found during the pioneering period. The building was used as a school until the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899. The school was declared a National Monument in 1974.




Voortrekker Church, situated on the corner of Kerk and Kantoor streets was built in 1852. In 1879 the original gables were removed, the windows were altered to Gothic style and the thatched roof was replaced with one of corrugated iron. In 1894 this church was replaced by the nearby Dutch Reformed Church to which services were transferred. In 1973 the church was declared a National Monument and was restored to its original style with the aid of a pen sketch drawn by Richter in 1867 and an illustration published in 'The Graphic' of 1876.


Dutch Reformed Church is situated on Church Square between Lange and Kantoor streets. The foundation stone was laid on the 12th of April 1890 by the Rev. H.J .Neethling and came into use in 1894. The pulpit, a replica of that in the Mother Church in Stellenbosch, was constructed by Palfrman and De Roo from Kiaat donated by Abel Erasmus. In 1926 a unique organ was donated to the church by the descendants of the Voortrekker G.C. Schoeman; The plot on which this church and the Voortrekker church stand was declared a National Monument in 1978.


Lydenburg Museum is situated in the Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve on the Sabie road. Some of the most interesting Early Iron Age finds date back to 490AD, which were discovered at Sterkspruit near Lydenburg by Ludwig von Bezing. They consist of seven terracotta heads known as the Lydenburg Heads, six have human faces and the other that of an animal. Two of the heads might have been worn as masks, the rest being much smaller were probably used in rituals. The original heads are displayed in the SA Museum in Cape Town. Imitations of three of the heads are presently on display in the Museum.


Powder Magazine is situated in Viljoen Street between Voortrekker and Potgieter streets. At the end of the Sekhukhune war in 1879, a detachment of soldiers of the 94th regiment were stationed at Lydenburg. At the outbreak of the first Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881), Lt. Col. Anstruther, together with most of the garrison left for Pretoria. The remainder under the command of 2nd Lt. Walter Long converted a number of huts into a fort, which was named after Long's wife, Fort Mary. The fort, which was successfully defended for 84 days, by its small garrison, was evacuated after March 1881.


At this time, the Boer's weapons and ammunition were stored in a powder magazine near the Magistrate's building. However this building was unsafe and damp and therefore unsuitable. In 1889 a contract to build a new magazine was concluded. During the building of the magazine, some of the stones were used from Fort Mary and the names engraved on the stones by the British soldiers can still be seen today. The building was declared a National Monument in 1962 and restored to its present condition in 1982


ZAR Post Box stands in Kantoor street in front of the Voortrekker church. The pillar box was manufactured in 1893 at 'Pletterij den Haag' and erected in Lydenburg around 1895. It previously stood near the Burgher Monument and was moved to its present position in 1975. In 1979 it was declared a National Monument.


Burgher Monument situated on church square alongside the Dutch Reformed Church. On the 20th of July 1914, the Church Council of the Dutch Reformed Church decided to donate a piece of ground to erect a monument in remembrance of the L~ Burghers who died in action during the Anglo- Boer War (1889-1902). This monument with the names of 33 burghers engraved on it was unveiled in 1918 by General S.W. Burger


Lydenburg Production Station The Mpumalanga Parks Board Production Station, previously known as the F.C. Braun Aquarium, is situated on the road to Sabie. The area consists of 56hectares of gardens, dams and buildings. Large shady trees, lawns and running water create a quiet relaxing atmosphere making it an ideal stopping point. To date 188 species of birds have been noted on the station. The aquarium fish production ponds, fish hatchery, nursery, botanical gardens and picnic facilities are easily accessible and open to the public daily between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Motlolo Volcano About 2000 million years ago volcanic action in Mpumalanga gave rise to this natural occurrence. The eruption was of the type which originates from the violent escape of subterranean gases, accompanied by a little lava, which had accumulated under high pressure. With the escape of the gases in their upward movement, the overlying rocks disintegrated. The volcanic pipe or opening which was formed in this way, consists of course fragments of a variety of rock types cemented together by the lava. The remains form the present outcrops. Another result of this violent turbulence of the mixture in its upward path is the formation of concentric structures composed of lava and known as volcanic bombs. Examples of such bombs may be seen amongst the exposed rocks.

To reach the volcano, continue westwards along Voortrekker Avenue, past the bridge for about 1 km. The volcano will be seen on the right hand side.




In the 1840's the world while gripped with gold fever, when large quantities of this precious metal were discovered in California. These early finds stimulated the search for gold in other countries.


The history of the Mpumalanga gold fields date back to ancient times, when unknown miners worked the quartz reefs for gold. Traces of their mining activities can still be fo1.U1d all over the Northern Province and Zimbabwe. A series of minor gold deposits were fo1.U1d in the northern parts of southern Africa between 1840 and the early 1870's.


The first gold rush in South Africa took place in February 1873 when payable gold was discovered by McLachlan, Parsons and Valentine on the farm Geelhoutboom. President Burgers visited the fields, named the digger's camp Mac Mac and declared the area the New Caledonia Gold Fields. One of the Mac Mac diggers, Alec 'wheelbarrow' Patterson, left the area to prospect further a field. Patterson found rich gold deposits in the Pilgrim's Creek. He kept his discovery secret, but soon afterwards another digger, William Trafford, also discovered alluvial gold in the creek.


The news of this rich strike triggered the first major gold rush in South Africa. Pilgrim's Rest was declared a gold field on the 22nd of September 1873. The Gold Commissioner moved his office to Pilgrim's Rest and by the end of 1873, there were approximately 1500 diggers working 4000 claims in and around Pilgrim's Rest. The valley was rich in gold and big finds were also found at Starvation Gully, Peach Tree Creek, Brown's Hill, Poverty Creek, Golden Point and Breakneck Gully.


The first decade after proclamation, mining activities centred mainly on the recovery of alluvial gold. Gold was recovered from the streams and the banks of the river and creeks by means of sluice-boxes and cradles. An estimated amount of R2 million worth of gold had been removed during the first seven years of gold mining in the Pilgrim's Rest Valley.


Pilgrim's Rest was the social centre of the diggings and a busy community in 1874- 1875, consisting of the Upper, Middle and Lower Camps. The petering out of the alluvial deposits and the outbreak of the Sekukuni War (1876-1879) resulted in the decline of the gold fields.


The scale of the Pilgrim's Rest gold fields cannot be compared with that of Australia or California, but it did produce a large amount of gold and for some time the Pilgrim's Rest diggings caused much excitement in South Africa.


After the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881) the reinstated Republican government instituted a policy of granting concessions to individuals and companies, in an effort to stimulate industries. In 1881, David Benjamin, a London financier, obtained the mining rights concession on the farms Ponieskrantz (on which Pilgrim's Rest is situated), Ledovine, Waterhoutboom, Driekop, Grootfontein and Belvedere. Benjamin compensated the remaining diggers and formed The Transvaal Gold Exploration and Land Company. In 1895 various smaller companies amalgamated with the above company and in 1896 the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates (TGME) was formed.


The history of the TGME at Pilgrim's Rest is one of fluctuating production, An average of 300,000 tone of ore per annum was mined in the period 1930-1950, In the fifties ore production fell to an average of 50,000 tone per year, Sub-quality ore, unstable ground, scarcity of labour and floods were but some of the problems that the TOME had to deal with at Pilgrim’s Rest. In 1972 the TOME closed down Beta mine, the last operational mine at Pilgrim’s Rest. Since 1974 Pilgrim’s Rest has been managed by the Provincial Administration as a living museum.




Alanglade House Museum once the mine manager's house has a fine collection of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco styles of furniture, dating between 1915 and 1930. The museum is not open to the public other than by a guided tour.


Alcock's The original Alcock's store is now restored as a Saloon Bar and Restaurant.


Anglican Church The church was built by diggers in 1884 and the original bell can still be seen.


Bank House The old bank house originally housed 'De Nationale Bank der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek' and later Barclays Bank. A part of the building was used by the bank manager as a residence.


Cemetery To reach the cemetery either climb the steep path from the Methodist Church or drive to down-town Pilgrim's Rest and follow the signs. Amongst the graves is that of a tent robber {marked 'Robbers Grave' and lying at right angles to the others) who was shot after having robbed one of the diggers.


Diggings An interesting guided tout on the gold panning activities is available.


Dredzen Shop and House Museum Dredzen Shop Museum is representative of the typical general dealer store during the period 1930 to 1950. The articles on display date from a period covering 20 years and were therefore not always simultaneously available. The home and life style of the post Second World War years can be seen in the Owner's residence adjoining the shop.


House Museum The House Museum, built in 1913, is an example of the wood and corrugated iron architecture which is typical of Pilgrim’s Rest. In 1976 the building became a house museum and was furnished to epitomize a middle class home of the early 20th century in this area.


Joubert Bridge The bridge was built in 1896 and was named after the mining commissioner. It stone arches proudly span the Blyde river and the bridge offers the visitor a dramatic entrance into town.

Methodist Church In 1874, the year after the Pilgrim's Rest gold-rush began, the Methodist church established a ministry there to cater for the spiritual welfare of the diggers. The Rev. J .Good, who was appointed to serve the Pilgrim's Rest congregation in 1910, recorded that the first Methodist Church to be erected was 'sent out from England in sections in 1895 and used as a stable in the Anglo- Boer war'. It also served as a school. The original church, however, was demolished in 1911 after a suicide inside the building and a more substantial structure took its place. The foundation stone was laid on the 14th of October 1911 and a new manse was also provided for the minister just behind the church.


Pilgrim’s and Sabie News .The first locally printed newspaper to be circulated on the Pilgrim's Rest Goldfields was the 'Gold News' on 24 January 1874. Shortly after it was first published, an Irishman, W.J. Phelan, became the new editor and he changed its name to 'Goldfields Mercury'.


In 1910 the first 'Pilgrim's and Sabie News' was published with T.W.S. Craig as its editor. The original premises of the paper which was situated between the present building and the Pilgrim's Hotel was totally destroyed by fire some time between 1916 and 1919. Subsequently the printing works was moved to its present site. This building was originally a private residence constructed during the late 19th century.


Reduction Works. The increasing production in ore after 1896 necessitated the establishment of a central reduction works at Pilgrim's Rest. By 1897 the first buildings were erected and consisted of a stamp mill, smelting house and a few offices. There were several mines in the area and an electric tram was built to convey ore from the outer mines to the central reduction works. The reduction works were closed in 1972 when the last mine at Pilgrim's Rest ceased production. The run down buildings have been restored and made available as a museum to the public. Visitors may join the daily guided tours that are conducted by trained guides.


Royal Hotel The hotel was built in 1894. One of the most interesting features is the bar which was once a chapel in Cape Town before being dismantled and shipped to Pilgrim’s Rest via Delagoa Bay.


Kruger National Park



This is one of the most famous national parks in the world and the oldest one in Africa. It is 350km long from north to south, at most 60km in width and covers a surface area of 1 948528 hectares.


The park's genuine African atmosphere has an enchantment that entices the visitor to return. Those who wish to experience it have to relax, look and listen. Once one has learnt to appreciate every aspect of bush life, there is no end to the surprises it holds and it becomes possible to enjoy the park to its fullest extent.


One of the main objectives of the park management is to maintain the ecosystem in its natural state for the enjoyment and enrichment of the visitor.


Fauna and Flora The park is a home to an unparalleled diversity of wildlife and is maintained by one of the world's most sophisticated management systems. Five rivers cross the park from west to east. There are 300 different types of trees, 49 species of fish, 33 types of amphibian, 114 different reptile species, 507 species of birds and 147 species of mammals in the park.


The number of different animals varies from year to year. The following is an estimate based on the 1993 census.


Black Rhino



Blue Wildebeest

12 723


15 232


Burchell’s Zebra

29 142







7 834



4 600


2 314



2 000


970 297



3 150





1 500+

Roan Antelope



Sable Antelope






1 425

White Rhino

1 871


Wild Dog



Climate The climate is subtropical with summer rains between October and March. The annual rainfall varies from 700mm in the south to 400mm in the north.


Winter is a popular season for those who wish to escape the cold of the highveld. During this time surface water is restricted to rivers and artificial watering holes and the animals tend to congregate there. Because the grass is dry and most trees are leafless, visibility is also much better. The days are normally sunny, warm and clear with little likelihood of rain.


Summer is the season during which all living creatures flourish and rejoice in the rain, which transforms the park into a green paradise. It also is the time to enjoy beautiful trees and flowers, hundreds of impala lambs and birds. For those who have air conditioning in their cars, this is the best time to visit the park.


Whatever the season, a visit to this game reserve remains an experience of a lifetime.


Malaria The Mpumalanga Lowveld is a malaria area. You should have started a course of anti-malaria tablets before arriving. If you have not been able to do this, tablets can be bought from a rest camp shop. Remember to follow the dosage instructions and continue taking the tablets after leaving the area. In the summer months, especially at dusk and dawn, protect yourself by using an anti-mosquito repellent.


Distances from Graskop The following gates of the Kruger National Park are within reasonable distance from Graskop: Phalaborwa 177km, Orpen 125km, Paul Kruger 79km, Numbi 56km and Malalane 153km. Since entrance gates and rest camp gates are closed at night, visitors have to ensure that they arrive at the entrance gate in good time to reach their rest camp before the gates close. Those who arrive at the entrance gates after closing time will be refused entrance and arriving late at a rest camp is an offence and the offender could be fined.


The speed limit in the park is 50km/h on the tar roads and 40km/h on the gravel roads.


Gate hours




Entrance Gates Open

Camps Open

Entrance Gates and Camps Close

















1st May to 31st August












1st November to 31st December






Useful Telephone Numbers (Dialling Code -013)



























































Game Drives


Kapama Game Reserve where you can enjoy the most unforgettable wildlife experience of your life. Day or night drives in open vehicles afford excellent all round viewing. If big game is your interest, Kapama will give you the opportunity to view Africa's Big Five -Elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard. There are also many species of antelope and an unimaginable variety of birdlife and insects. The night game drive also includes a dinner in the Elephant Inn Boma. There is nothing quite like a balmy African evening and a hearty traditional braaivleis to round off a memorable day. The opportunities for photography are abundant and skilled and experienced safari staff will ensure you take home more than just memories.


The Hoedspruit Research & Breeding Centre for Endangered Species is a unique project which conducts essential research on endangered species and provides the opportunity to view the animals in their natural surroundings. Guided tours are conducted hourly and start with a video presentation where fascinating background information on these beautiful animals, the research and the current breeding project is presented in the auditorium.


Visitors are then guided through the research and breeding centre by experienced guides -more than 60 cheetahs including the extremely beautiful King Cheetah can be viewed. An introduction to the world of the 'painted wolf' or Cape Hunting Dog, a visit to the 'vulture restaurant' and other rare animals concludes the tour.


Reptile Parks


Swadini Reptile Park offers a unique collection of local and imported reptiles. Daily demonstrations are given to groups and a fully licensed Restaurant and Tea Garden is available. Open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. An entrance fee is charged.


Boat Cruises


Enjoy a breathtaking boat cruise on the Blydepoort dam in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Trips are about one and a half hours and all bookings must be made at the reception office of Aventura Swadini.


Tsakani Silk Enterprise


The Tsakani Silk Farm is situated in the heart of the Amashangaan tribal land of Mpumalanga and has close ties with the local community. A team of skilled and dedicated Shangaan women will show visitors the intricate methods of commercial silk farming and hand processing of silk duvets. Purchases of a unique range of African Bilk products can be made from the showroom. Hourly Guided Tours take place from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. An entrance fee is charged.


Rottcher Wineries


Rottcher Wineries offers tours of the Winery and Nuttery, weekdays between 10.00a.m. and 2.00p.m. Visit the Orange Winery ---Wolhuters Art gallery --- Garden Restaurant ---Nutcracker Valley Nut Factory ---Macadamia Nut Farm --- Horse riding -Outrides in Harry Wolhuter's Footsteps ---Pony Rides ---Riding School--- Tack shop. Open daily from 8.00a.m. to 5.00p.m.


Botanical Gardens


Lowveld Botanical Garden Approximately a quarter of the garden is being developed and cultivated and the remaining area is being preserved in its natural state. It is through this natural bush along the Crocodile River that the riverside trail has been cleared and here various animals and birds and about 500 plant species can enjoy an undisturbed existence. An entrance fee is charged.





Sudwala Caves


Prom Graskop take the R532 to Sabie. In Sabie turn right on R532 to Lydenburg. About 10km out of Sabie, turn left at the junction of the R37. Continue on the R37, direction Nelspruit, until Rosehaugh (about 20km). At Rosehaugh turn right at the junction of the R539. Continue on R539 until the T -junction, turn right and entrance to Sudwala is about 1km from the junction.


The Sudwala caves, situated in the Houtbosloop Valley, are one of the biggest and most beautiful cave complexes in the world.


HISTORY In past ages these caves were formed when gigantic stresses cracked the dolomite. Rain water percolated into the cracks, carrying carbon dioxide and dissolving away the limestone in the rock, forming in the process, a subterranean dreamland of vast caverns and passageways decorated with stalactites and stalagmites.


In the nineteenth century these caverns were used by Somcuba, the Swazi king, as a fortress. In the power struggle for the throne, many bloody battles were fought at the entrance. On one occasion, Somcuba's enemies tried to smoke him out of this natural stronghold by lighting a huge bonfire in the entrance. They were, however, thwarted in this attempt by a Lydenburg commando which came to his rescue. Traces of the fire are still visible. After the enemy had withdrawn, the entrance was guarded by one of Somcuba's captains, Sudwala and his regiment -hence the name.


THE CAVES have been illuminated and spotlights placed in strategic positions, bringing into proper relief the strange shapes of the Speleothems (the name given to these cave formations) created by nature through the centuries.


The caves have a natural air-conditioning system, the temperature being maintained at a constant 18C throughout the year. Even at a distance of about 457m from the entrance, cool fresh air from an unknown source permeates the subterranean passages.




1.  The Rocket Silo, consisting of massive stalagmite columns, one portion of which resembles a three stage rocket some 14m in height.


2.  The Gong


3.  Reputedly a guano pit.


4.  The Three Nuns, named not so much for their shape, but for the shadow cast on the walls by the illumination in that part of the cave.


5.  The 'Screaming Monster' which in spite of its fierce appearance, we now know to be nothing other than a huge deposit of calcium carbonate.


6.  The P.R. Owen Hall with a dolomite dome 67m in diameter and, being the size of a football field, the hall's qualities conform naturally to the acoustic specifications of a recording studio. It is also the largest dolomite hall in the southern hemisphere.


7.  Castle Mountain.


8.  Lover's Lane, so named for the way in which couples held on to each other as they climbed the slippery slope before the present safe but unromantic path was constructed


9.  Samson's pillar, the largest of the columns found in the cave.


10. Whispering Tunnel.


11. The Weeping Madonna, her 'tears' flowing un-interrupted through the centuries.


12. The Cascade.


13. Lumbago Walk, the only place on the public tour where the visitor is required to stoop.


14. Fairyland, what we see here is really intended for the younger visitor, the coloured lights conjure up an enchanting world of fairies, gnomes and pixies.


15. Biltong Forest, a display of stalactites, resembling a forest of wet biltong.


Guided tours take place every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Tours of the Crystal Chamber are conducted on the first Saturday of each month. Children under the age of 12 years are not allowed on this tour. An entrance fee is charged.



Dinosaur Park


The dinosaur park is the biggest and scientifically most accurate park of this kind in the world. It is dedicated to the late P.R. Owen who after a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, decided to install a display of restored pre-historic animals in an open-air museum near the Sudwala Caves.


Ian Theron van Zyl, one of the world's finest animal sculptors, reconstructed the life-size dinosaurs in steel, asbestos and cement after he and Dr. Andre Keyser, chief of the Palaeotological Division of the Department of Mines, had done a great deal of research, using data available on fossils which have been excavated. Many of the large and terrifyingly life-like dinosaurs now stand displayed in natural surroundings.


When the project is completed, the park will have more than 100 varieties of pre-historic monsters. These will range from the small creeping reptile, Ichthyostega, which first emerged on land from the surrounding seas some 200 to 300 million years ago, to the more recent giant, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the king of the tyrant lizards. With a height of 6 metres and a length of 15 metres, he reigned during the Cretaceous Era, terrorising all other dinosaurs until they all became extinct, some 65 million years ago. Recently six magnificent sculptures were added to the visual reconstruction of the story of the horse family, Equus. The display culminates in the Cape Quagga, now extinct, being brought down by the black-maned Cape Lion, also extinct.


An illustrated guide giving details of the pre- historic animals on display is available to visitors. An entrance fee is charged.


Echo Caves


From Graskop take the R532 (North) .Continue on this road to the junction of the R36. Turn left, direction Ohrigstad. The turnoff to the caves is about 1km from the junction. Follow the gravel road for about 4km to the entrance.


The Echo Cave has developed in the Mogaba area of Mpumalanga, within a spur at the head of the Molapong valley, a tributary of the Ohrigstad valley. Research suggests that the caves were probably formed in the early Quaternary period, about one million years ago. It is believed that the dolomite overlying the cave is about 100m thick, which decreases towards the sides of the spur.


The cave system has two entrances and two main sections: The one extends for approximately 350m and follows the main tourist route from the shop; the other, 'Cannibal Cave " which has a vertical shaft entrance 13m higher than the first, extends for a distance of 105m. The link between the two sections is an artificially enlarged passage.


On the whole the cave is dominated by long simple passages, between 2 and 10m high. Caverns or chambers have developed where intersections of joints has led to greater solution and collapse. The main chamber in the Cannibal Cave section is the largest section in the cave.


It would appear that most of the cave is formed below the water table level by phreatic action and that there has been subsequent scalloping by running vadose water above the water table. The western Cannibal Cave section is purely phreatic in origin, lying as it does at lower elevations than the northern section of the cave. The two sections of the cave vary also in the amount of deposition which has taken place. The western cave has very limited cave formations, speleothens; while the northern section is quite well decorated (speleothens can only form in a dry cave situation). Rock breakdown and the accumulation of red earth fill are also common deposits in the cave.


Life in the cave is very limited. While mosses and ferns occur in entrance areas, fungi, algae (with electric lighting) and tree roots are the dominant plant growth features deeper in the cave. Animals are limited in number and diversity. Bats occur in more remote areas and spiders are found in undisturbed crevices. The food chain is very limited and has been considerably modified by human utilisation of the caves.


The Echo Caves have been declared a National Monument and are open daily between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. An entrance fee is charged.


Walks and Trails


Hikers Code



Walking a nature trail is a .simple and inexpensive means of getting away from the pressures and frustrations of city life. It offers the hiker solitude and brings him into direct contact with nature. The hiker should walk with the welfare of nature in mind and should travel by the rules of 'Low Impact'. In order to do this, he should abide by the following:


Walk lightly Avoid kicking up soil and stones, because the soil that is dislodged will wash away during rain or leave muddy patches. Other hikers will avoid these patches, thus creating new trails and thereby increasing erosion and the formation of gullies. This in turn will increase the amount of maintenance to keep the trail in good condition.


Wear light soft shoes Running shoes have less impact on the environment than boots. Only wear boots if you have to.


Keep your load light those hikers who walk trails with overnight facilities should carry a pack containing all the essentials, but which at the same time is as light as possible. This will make your load easier to carry and also lesson your boot pressure on the path, which in turn will reduce compaction and erosion of the path.


Walk quietly and slowly Avoid carrying rattling items in or attached to your backpack. Do not shout or carry on loud conversations. Noise pollution scares wildlife away and it is objectionable to other hikers. Walking quietly and slowly will increase your chance of seeing birds and wild animals and afford the time to look and study nature around you. A hike is not a race.


Follow the trail A working knowledge of trail behaviour and maintenance is important for any hiker. By following the laid out trail you will not gel lost. Do not take short: cuts as this will increase the erosion potential of the trail. Laid out trails usually take low impact routes and deviating from these increases the impact.


Be alert It is always advisable to be on the look-out for potential dangers such as snakes and scorpions. If you follow a watercourse, be on the look-out for crocodiles and hippos.


Do not destroy the nature you see Take only photographs and leave only footprints. Leave items of interest where you find them in their natural state so that other hikers may enjoy them too. Engraving or painting messages and names on trees and rocks is not leaving them in their natural condition.


Leave wildlife alone Disturb wildlife as little as possible, especially animals with yo1Ulg and birds in nests. Leave any seemingly young animals alone, their parents have probably hidden them on purpose and will return to fetch them later. Feeding wild animals can be dangerous. The animals may get a fright when they realise how close you are. Frightened animals will try to defend themselves, often by biting. Animals which are fed by humans may develop the habit of begging and may become aggressive if food is not offered. Such animals must then be destroyed.


Take a refuse bag with you. By all means take something to eat or drink while walking the trail but do not leave anything behind. Food scraps such as nut and egg shells, orange peels and bones take a long time to decompose and are an eyesore for other hikers. Bottles, cans, plastic packets, sweet papers etc. must be thrown into a refuse bin and not left lying in the veld. Animals often try to eat foreign objects and may choke to death on refuse left by hikers. Help with track maintenance by picking up litter that some other inconsiderate hiker may have dropped. By doing this you are doing a favour, not only to the people in charge 0 the trails but to other hikers as well. You may even be saving an animal's life.


Prevent veld fires If you smoke, stop, sit down and relax. Do not smoke while walking. Flick your ash into the soil and not the grass. When you have finished smoking make sure your cigarette has been put out properly and throw the butt into a refuse bag. Cigarette filters are synthetic and do not decompose.


Nature Walks


Spookvoel Nature Walk (1km)


SITUATED: Natural Bridge, Graskop.


The trail starts and finishes at the Natural Bridge just outside Graskop.




Forest Falls Nature Walk (3,5km)


SITUATED: Between Graskop and Sabie.


Hikers are required to sign the visitor’s book at the Picnic site before starling. The starling and finishing point is at the Green Heritage Picnic Site. The trail winds through the forest on its way to the falls. These beautiful broad falls, situated on the Mac Mac river, are 10m high and plunge down into a lovely rock swimming pool. The trail then continues back to the starling point. A short walk across the road, takes in the Maria Shires waterfall as well as the old graves at the top of the hill.




Secretary Bird Nature Walk (3km)


SITUATED: Mac Mac Pools.


This trail starts and finishes at the Mac Mac Pools and works its way through the surrounding grassveld and scattered indigenous trees. There is very little shade on this route so precautions must be taken against sunburn. The Fanie Botha Hiking Trail also works its way through this area and hikers are cautioned to follow the correct route. There is an entrance fee to the Mac Mac Pools.


TRAIL MARKER: Secretary Bird.


Loerie Nature Walk (13km)


SITUATED: Ceylon State Forest, Sabie.


Hikers must sign the visitor’s book before starting. The starting point and finishing point is at the Ceylon Forest State Office or at Castle Rock. The trail winds through the Ceylon State and indigenous forests, past the Bridal Veil Falls, the Elna falls, the Prospectors hut and Castle Rock.


TRAIL MARKER: Loerie Bird.


Belvedere Nature Walk (+/- 5hrs)


SITUATED: Bourke's Luck Potholes,


Before starting, hikers must obtain a permit and map from the office. The trail starts and finishes at the Bourke's Luck Visitors Centre. The route follows the 'Yellowwood Trail', passing the Potholes and then descends into the Blyde River Canyon to the Power Station. Because of the steep slopes one should be fairly fit to tackle this trail.


TRAIL MARKER: Yellow footprint.


Jock of the Bushveld Nature Trail (+/- 4hrs)


SITUATED: Graskop Municipal Tourist Park.


An entrance fee must be paid at the Tourist Park Office before starting. Graskop's, Jock of the Bush veld Trail on Paradise Berg is marked by a “Jogging Jock”" on appropriate rocks and leads the hiker along paths dating back to 1885-1887. Relevant Jock signs have been numbered, to enable the hiker to pinpoint his position along the trail, in relation to the map supplied,


TRAIL MARKER: Jogging Jock.


Hiking Trails


Fanie Botha Educational Trail (SAFCOL)


LOCATION: 7km north west of Sabie.


DESCRIPTION: The trail starts at the Ceylon plantation, winding through indigenous forests and over frequent river crossings.


DISTANCE: A 79km walk over 2 to 5 days,


Prospector's Hiking Trail (SAFCOL)


LOCATION: Near Pilgrim's Rest.


DESCRIPTION: The trail starts at Morgenzon plantation, winding through indigenous forests, exotic plantations and places of interest dating back to the Gold rush era.


DISTANCE: A circular route of 42km over 2 to 4 days


RESERVATIONS: SAFCOL, Private Bag X503, Sabie, 1260


Blyderivierspoort Hiking Trail (Blydepoort)


LOCATION: God's Window, 10km north of Graskop.


DESCRIPTION: The trail starts at God's Window and winds through privately owned land, through the Blyde State forest and across the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve towards Swadini in the Lowveld.


DISTANCE: A one way route of 65km over 5 days.


Geelhout Hiking' Trail (Blydepoort)


LOCATION: Bourke's Luck Potholes, 42km north of Graskop.


DESCRIPTION: The trail starts at Bourke's Luck and follows a route along the Belvedere valley to the old Belvedere Power Station, crosses the suspension bridge and ascends the eastern slopes of the Blyde River Canyon and then back to Bourke's Luck


DISTANCE: A 25km walk over 2 clays.


Protea Hiking Trail (Blydepoort)


LOCATION: Bourke's Luck Potholes, 42km north of Graskop.


DESCRIPTION: The trail starts at Bourke's Luck and follows a route along the upper slopes of the Belvedere Valley, winds through indigenous forest and then back to Bourke's Luck


DISTANCE: A 39km walk over 4 days.


RESERVATIONS : The Officer in Charge, Blydepoort Nature Reserve, Private Bag X431, Gra8kop, 1270

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