Going on a breakfast run on the open road is an great outing, but, if you’re looking for true adventure – that kind of adventure that involves risks, hazards, and life-changing undertakings – then take a motorcycling trip to Mpumalanga.
Rob-Roy & I are avid road-trippers and we have driven the stretch from Pretoria to Hazyview on numerous occasions on the Panorama Route with a couple of friends on our Harleys to over night at our favourite venue in the Lowveld called Umbhaba Lodge. On this road you can start to enjoy the beautiful countryside There are stunning roads and plenty of resting areas to take in the spectacular scenery. Not only does each of these stops offer you the most spectacular views, but the drive in itself is breathtakingly beautiful. Panoramic is an apt name as no matter in which direction you look, you are rewarded with spectacular scenery. The mountain passes in this area are exhilarating! My advice to you is to take your time and stop often to look, smell and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Finally the day arrived and it was time to hit the road. All six riders filled with anticipation after months of planning. We left Pretoria at exactly 9 o’clock on Saturday morning for our trip to Hazyview – the feeling of excitement was undesirable when we finally started rolling. It was time to lay down some rubber between us and home. Once we reached Belfast, we got off the highway and turned the handlebars in the direction of Dullstroom. On this road you can start to enjoy the beautiful countryside
The N4 highway flew past us as the road opened up and the fresh air filled our helmets. The highway was perfect, smooth and pothole free. The N4 stretch until Machadorop isn’t that picturesque. Our first stop was the Total Alzu petroport just passed the Middelburg toll plaza. Their bathroom facilities of excellent standards and they game on the property. You can actually view the buck and zebra and even a few rhino from the washrooms – what an experience!
We stopped off in Dullstroom at the Duck and Trout restaurant for some lunch. As always, the food and scenery is excellent. After lunch, we continued on to Lydenburg, very slowly enjoying the scenery
We stopped to re-fuel before we entered the holy grail of riding…the Long Tom Pass. The roads twists and turns all the way up the Long Tom Pass, a total of 682 vertical meters. Once you reach the top, the most magnificent vistas open up and you can see the Mpumalanga mountains and plantations for many kilometers. I can most definitely recommend that you stop at the top (right at the cannon after which the pass is named) and just take some time to take in the scenery. There aren’t many other places in the world like this.
Finally we roll into Sabie….beautiful, green, Sabie. After riding all day all the way from Pretoria to another province, over a massive mountain pass, the feeling of hitting Sabie was exhilarating. From there we made our way to Umbhaba Lodge in the charming little town of Hazyview. The place is the perfect place for anyone going there for the sole reason, to ride their bike. Once you are there and take the first sip of an ice-cold glass of wine at their safari-style Burn Out Bar, you know you have arrived.
On a hillside overlooking the Sabie River Valley lies Umbhaba Lodge. The lodge is picture-perfect is the ideal departure point for excursions in to the Kruger National Park, the majestic Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Pot Holes. Aside from luxury accommodation in a total of thirty rooms, the lodge is perfect for romantic weddings and high-powered conferences.
On our first full day there, we decided to do the main loop between Hazyview, Sabie, Graskop, White River. We headed to White River to Sabie and from there to Graskop. This is one of my favourite roads in this area since it starts of with long straight roads,. From about the half-way point near the Mac Mac falls you get the twisting sections. Sheer bliss. We finally passed the turnoff to Pilgrims rest, but we continued to Graskop and back home to Hazyview. Finally back at Umbhaba Lodge we ended up reminisced about the awesome route we just completed.
Every motorcycle rider in South Africa would have heard of the magical 22. This is a section of the road that is exactly 22 kilometers long, that you can rid between Hazyview and Sabie. There are 66 turns on this 22 kilometer of road, winding through the lowveld mountains. It is an indescribable route, and the only way to truly experience the 22 is to actually ride it. Believe me, once you get to the end of the 22, you simply want to turn the bike around and do it all again & again! Nothing beats spend an afternoon riding the 22 with your biking mates!
The following day we decided to go up to God’s Window, just past Graskop to check out the amazing view from the top of the mountain. This awesome viewpoint is part of a 250 kilometer stretch of cliffs plunging over 700 meters down to the valley floor. Cast your gaze over the jaw-dropping vista of canyons, valleys, rock formations and waterfalls and you can’t help but feel humbled by the beauty and splendour of the place. It’s no wonder that this area has been dubbed as one of God’s favourite views.
God’s Window is one of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve’s most astonishing views. The rest of the canyon, however, is certainly nothing to be sneezed at. Our days’ outing was taken to a new height with the Graskop Gorge Glass Lift where we were enchanted by an unforgettable journey to the bottom of the gorge and into a wonderland of pristine indigenous forests. The wonderful thing about self-driving the Panorama Route is that it’s not only the well-known stops that afford you stunning views; every twist and every turn along the route reveals a new angle from which to gawk at the incredible beauty of the canyon.
Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world, and claims top spot as the largest green canyon. In comparison to the seemingly barren browns and beiges of the Fish River Canyon, the Blyde River Canyon teems with verdant vegetation, pristine waterfalls and abundant wildlife.
After all this sightseeing we stopped off for a quick brunch back in Graskop at the famous Harries Pancakes. The afternoon was spent at Induna Adventures were we rode on Quad Biking through indigenous forests and Blue Gum plantations to spectacular waterfall views points. My absolute favourite was the zip-lining – this was a real adrenaline rush, as we pulled on a climbing harness and slide down a steep zip line at high-speed. Then back we went to Umbhaba Lodge where ice-cold wine & beer awaited us!
It is always a sad day, when you have to return to the concrete jungle – knowing that once you are back home, the roads near Pretoria just won’t be able to compare with what we have just experienced. It feels as if there is no point getting on the bike until the next time we do this trip.
On our way back be stopped at Millies Caltex Starstop on the N4 near eNtokozweni (Machadodorp) which is world famous for its trout. Here you can enjoy the most divine food overlooking the trout dam. Their food, especial the burgers (and cakes) are just to die for. Do yourself a favour and grab a fresh trout pie or two from the pie shop and get some of their moreish trout pate at the great padstal. From here, it was easy (albeit boring) cruising all the way home.
Till next time when we feel the wind in our hair.