It’s been a long but amazingly rewarding day on our province’s impossibly spectacular Panorama Route. We’ve done this route many times before, but not until today have we ever focused specifically on visiting each and every one of the numerous major waterfalls that bless this dramatic area of South Africa.
We don’t have to search very hard to find the first one. Sabie Falls – a powerful, 73 metre high torrent plunging into a deep and swirling pool – literally lies right under the main road as you go out of the town towards Graskop. For a small fee, we pulled into the parking area and took the gentle walk right to the edge of the falls. After this impressive close encounter, we then walked down the steep path through the forest, which took us right to the edge of the waterfall pool.
Mac Mac Falls is a standout attraction for the waterfall chaser on the Panorama Route. Photo: Dale Hes
Onwards we went to discover the no-less-than-five named waterfalls found within 15 kilometres of Sabie. We marvelled at the strange shape of Horse Shoe Falls, fell in love with the misty beauty of the shapely Bridal Veil and had ourselves a picnic alongside the national monument that is Lone Creek Falls. Next up was another national monument and a common stop-off point for tourists: the show-stopping Mac Mac Falls. We resisted the curio shops and took the picturesque walk to the falls. Often smattered by mist-induced rainbows, the waterfall dives 65 metres into a lush, narrow gorge, with its immense crashing reverberating around the cliffs below you.
Just down the road, the 35 metre high Maria Shires Waterfall is not nearly as dramatic, but charming nonetheless. The waterfall was named after the mother of Joseph Shires, who was credited with planting the first eucalyptus plantations in the area in 1876 – making him the pioneer of the region’s massive forestry industry.
Just north of Graskop, we found a stunning pair of waterfalls – the Lisbon and Berlin Falls. Lisbon Falls is arguably the centrepiece of waterfall watching in the region. Measuring 94 metres, it’s the highest waterfall in Mpumalanga and plummets over a cliff in three equally impressive torrents. A stone’s throw away, Berlin Falls is no less stunning, falling through a narrow sluice before opening into a wide sheet of water. We took the opportunity to swim in the cooling water of the pool below the falls, and took our afternoon drinks in the warm sunlight to toast the end of our waterfall chasing adventure.