Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Bourke's Luck

As we were driving along the Panorama route I could not help feeling pride in being a South African. We are so blessed to be living in such a diverse and beautifull country. We need to protect what is ours. Keep our rivers free of pollution, protect our indegenous flora against foreign murderous plants and protect our wildlife and especially rhino's against evil poachers!
Bourke's Luck Potholes, were named after prospector Tom Bourke who discovered alluvial gold in the area during the late 1880's Their formation is a natural phenomenon created by the swirling river water.

Located approximately 35 km north of the town of Graskop, the site has grown in popularity as one of the province's best tourist destinations. The potholes which lie at the confluence of the Treur and Blyde rivers, were formed millions of years ago by the swirling of sand and pebbles, which resulted in the carving of the potholes into the underlying riverbed.

The site is managed by the Mpumalanga Parks Board and a nominal entrance fee applies. A 700 m long circular path, with a number of pedestrian bridges over the river direct visitors towards the best vantage points.
The Potholes are really impressive and you can spend hours walking around and admiring the intricate and beautifull rock formations. The paths and lookout points are well looked after and very clean. The toilets were clean and well stocked with toiletpaper. (always important) Just like all the other tourist sites in the area the parking lot is dotted with stalls selling locan handicrafts.

Bourke's Luck should definatelly be a must see on every tourist itenerary. :)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Where Angels Tread

Today is a big day with a lot of sightseeing on our itinerary. From Pilgrim's Rest we headed back up the mountain towards Graskop.

Our first stop was The Pinnacle. An impressive finger rock in the centre of a deep ravine complete with waterfall. (Yes another one!)  On this particular day the fog was pretty dense which made for an ominous looking Pinnacle.

On a clear day the view is quite different...

There are various lookout points allowing you to see the 'big rock' from different angles. A short hike will take you around to the opposite cliff face for a nice view of the before mentioned waterfall.

Before we could reach the other side though we had to cross the small river. Careful now, you do not want to slip and and tumble over the edge...

The next stop along our route is known as God's Window. From the parking area it is a short but steep hike to 'The Garden of Eden'. Once you pass through the 'Garden' the vegetation opens up offering you a spectacular view of the Canyon.

Luckily for the not so fit there are many other vantage points along the way...

All of the pictures above was taken by me on previous visits. On this day when Stiaan and I visited all we could see was this...

At least we managed to see a 'Love Leaf" :)

Next stop Burke's Luck!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Pilgrims Rest

Pilgrim"s Rest is a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa which has been declared a national monument. After it was officially declared a gold field in September 1873, it suddenly grew to 1500 inhabitants searching for alluvial gold. It was a real boom town and is said to have had street lights before London England. Quite an accomplishment for a small mining village somewhere near the end of the earth.

Mining was closed down in 1971 and the village sold to the government as a national museum. The town's original architecture remains largely unchanged since then.

All of the original buildings have been beautifully restored and turned into museums or curio shops. It is a real treat walking here. Surrounded by history. The Garage houses some old cars and motorcycles. I can not believe that these made it up the mountain we just came down!
Every visitor to the town is encouraged to have a drink at the Royal Hotel Bar. We simply had to follow tradition.
After more than a couple of drinks in the bar and an absolutely delicious lunch in the Hotel Restaurant we decided to spend the night in the Royal Hotel. Besides it was still raining outside and we did not feel like pitching our tent in the rain AGAIN!

Walking around after breakfast the following morning we came across the old Methodist Church where services are held every Sunday

Strolling though the old Graveyard we came across the old Robbers Grave. Emblazoned simply with a cross and the large type words of Robbers Grave. It is as the name suggests the grave of a robber who was convicted of stealing a tent from one of the miners. A tent represented a 'home' so was the most valuable of any of the individuals belongings. Stealing this tent was a most grievous crime and the punishment was meted out in the extreme. The young man was subsequently banished from the town.  A few days after his trial, the thief was spotted on the hill overlooking the town. Now known as Cemetery Hill, this is where the robber was shot, killed and buried. His grave was placed north-south to brand him a thief forever. All the other graves in the cemetery are oriented east-west.

Beautiful Meander

We left the Kruger park and went on exploring the beautiful lowveld area surrounding the Kruger.

The Panorama Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The Panorama Route passes the noth-eastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld a thousand meters below. The great view is unfortunatelly often impaired by a barrier of clouds coming from the east up the escarpment.

I have been to this area many times and it is only on one or two occations that I manages to sneak a cloudless view of the area. BUT when the clouds do part the view is worth the wait and simply spectacular!

Our first stop along the famed route was the MacMac falls. The Falls is located about 13km outside the town of Sabie on the road towards Graskop. The parking offers a chance to do a bit of shopping and the many curio stalls. A steep walk along a cement pathway takes you to the viewing platform above the falls.

The 65m high MacMac Falls in the Mac Mac River is a declared National Monument. This waterfall was originally a single stream, but gold miners blasted it with dynamite to divert the river in an attempt to work the rich gold-bearing reef over which it plunges.

There are countless waterfalls along the Panorama Route. Including the Berlin and Lisbon falls. You can spend days exploring the area on foot, by boat, by road or on a bycicle. The outdoor activity options in the area is endless.

BUT it is not just the waterfalls that take your breath away, the Blyde River Canyon has a lot more to offer than just water.

After our visit to Mac Mac we headed for Pilgrims Rest.  From Sabi you turn off the main road and head over the ridge to be faced with a steap downward spiraling road leading down the mountain towards the small mining town, not a National Heratage Site. This is a beautifull landscape, but back then it prooved to also be a dangerous one.
The history of the Pilgrim's Rest gold fields date back to ancient times when unknown miners worked the quartz reefs for gold. Evidence of ther diggings can still be found throughout northern and eastern Africa and Zimbabe.

Stiaan and I both love history and especially South African history. We just had to stop and the old dig site on the way to Pilgrim's Rest.