The Three Rondavels is a large rock formation in South Africa's Blyde River Canyon. The name refers to the fact that the three rounded mountain peaks resemble traditional native huts. The reddish color of the rocks adds to their photo appeal. You look out atthem from the top of the ridge on the other side of the canyon. From the parking lot to the viewpoint is about a 50 meter walk.
Wonder View is another spectacular viewpoint along the Drakensberg Escarpment north of Graskop. Wonder View gives you essentially the same view as God's Window, without making you climb up a bunch of steps. You look out over miles and miles of forests and fields that lie about 2000 feet below you and stretch to Kruger National Park to the east.
God's Window is an impressive viewpoint in the Drakensberg Mountains north of Graskop. The viewpoint is located near the top of a steep ridge that plunges 2000 feet down into the lowvelt (lowlands). From God's Window, you can see for over 50 miles across the lowvelt forests and fields that stretch east towards Kruger National Park and Mozambique.
God's Window was featured in the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy." In the movie, it was the site where the central character thought he had reached the end of the world, when he looked out from the cliffs and saw nothing but clouds.
When you get to God's Window, there are actually a series of viewpoints that you can visit. Two are located near the parking lot, and look out through a steep-walled canyon. If you are willing to climb some steps, you can get get to a better viewpoint about 50 meters higher. At the top there is also a small rainforest which is worth visiting for a short rest after climbing the stairs.
PLACES OF INTEREST
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.
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.
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.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.
A must visit when you are in this area. The staff are wonderful and take you on a tour explaining the diff between RSA silks and Thai silks and how they are spun. At Africa Silks you will once again be reminded of the wonders of nature. Visit Africa Silks and you will be amazed to see how the silkworm cocoons are processed into the most beautiful threads. These are then hand-woven to produce a variety of products for clothing and interior decorating.
Situated on the Drakensberg escarpment in Mpumalanga is God’s Window. Just one look down and you will begin to understand why it is called "God's Window".
With magnificent views, canyons, rock formations and waterfalls, God's Window is truly an area of breathtaking scenic splendour. It is no wonder that Mpumalanga is known as Paradise Country! Gods Window is so called for the panoramic view of the Lowveld more than 900 m down into lush indigenous forest clad ravine. The majestic cliffs plunge over 700 meters to the Lowveld and the private game reserves which have made the area one of Africa's main wildlife destinations. God's Window is a small part of a 250km long earthwork of sheer cliffs and extravagant beauty. One can observe the hills and forests as far as the eye can see. In fact, it seems as if one can see forever!
This natural water feature marks the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. Through countless eons the swirling whirlpools which occur as the Treur River plunges into the Blyde River caused waterborne sand and rock to grind huge, cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river.
The Potholes were named after a gold digger, Tom Burke, who staked a claim nearby. Although his claim did not produce a single ounce of gold, he correctly predicted that large gold deposits would be found in the area.
The Potholes is located 35km north of Graskop town on the R532 road. The informative visitors centre details some of the interesting natural and socio-historic features and is the starting point of the 700m walk to the potholes.
Although not a registered SA Natural Heritage Site, the world renown Blyde River Canyon deserves to be included here. The reserve is located north of Graskop and covers an area of 22 664 ha, extending from the Pinnacle Rock in the south to beyond the Blyderivierspoort Dam in the north.
The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world and was formed by rivers cutting deep into the escarpment and eroding millions of tons of rock which were carried to the Lowveld and beyond to the Indian Ocean. The reserve (administrated by the Mpumalanga Parks Board) is known primarily for it's outstanding natural beauty, as well as for the numerous endemic and endangered fauna and flora species that occur on the reserve.
Five of the 71 different veld types of South Africa occur on the reserve. These include Mixed Bushveld, North Eastern Mountain Sourveld, Lowveld Sour Bushveld and Lowveld Mixed Bushveld. The reserve represents a transitional zone for the flora of these five veld types, including their associated fauna, which migrate along the escarpment from as far south as the Southern Cape; plants from KwaZulu-Natal; sub-tropical plants from the Lowveld and plants from the central bushveld, which follow the Ohrigstad and Olifants River valleys into the canyon. The rich and varied plant life is influenced by the specific climate, altitude and soil conditions.
A few km's out of Graskop there is a viewpoint called God's window. It is said that on a clear day you can see the boats in Maputo Harbour. I can't confirm it. Must have been there about 5 or 6 different times in different seasons but there always seems to be a haze. It is still a very beautiful view. At all these viewpoints there are local traders selling their wares at far cheaper prices than the shops.
The 60-meter high Mac Mac Falls, located roughly 2/3 of the way to Sabie from Graskop, is just one of several that plunge off various cliffs along the Drakensberg escarpment. If you're there in summer, there is plenty of opportunities for swimming and diving; we were there in mid-winter, so that wasn't an option. However, there are hiking trails nearby, and if you're into handicrafts, an excellent outdoor market for wood and stone carvings as well.
Berlin Falls is not nearly as beautiful as Lisbon Falls, but it is impressive. You can climb right up to the edge of falls which then falls over a completely vertical rock cliff.
There are many vendors selling curios at the top of the falls.
Lisbon Falls is one of the best falls in the region. You can climb down a trail from the parking area and walk right up to the base of the falls where the water creates a lovely pool. The water is clear and crisp. It’s cold but take a dip if you wish. Behind the smaller falls is an old gold mine. You can climb up into the mine but it is very slippery and treacherous with all that water coming down on you.
There is no entrance fee. Security appears to be fine
Bourke’s Luck Potholes are a strange formation of huge cylindrical holes that have been carved by decelerating river water with sand particles. The small canyon and holes are geologically interesting, although may not warrant the R20 entrance fee. It is none the less a highlight and you should see it if you are in the area. There is a small museum with some geological information as well as floral and fauna of the area.
On the same road as God's window you will find a turn of to the pinnalce. It is a large rock standing on it's own. You will also find some traders here with their African crafts.