The Graskop area in Mpumalanga is opulently imbued with diverse and breath-taking natural beauty. Green mountainous backdrops, laced with an array of various tree species and home to the most beautiful cluster of waterfalls in South Africa, makes this a heavenly setting for a romantic getaway.
Check in! You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation options in the area. Lodges, resorts and guesthouses all form part of the offering, but my favourite remains Flycatcher Castle. Flycatcher Castle is a small full board hotel, situated in the heart of Graskop. The castle has a stunning but small courtyard, a tower from which an awesome sunset can be viewed and five tastefully decorated rooms. Guests can look forward to delicious meals, created by the owner himself.
If you have chosen to stay at Flycatcher Castle, you will be served a 3-course scrumptious meal. After supper you could wander aimlessly around the fascinating castle (trust me there is a lot to see) and then Indulge in a romantic spa bath to end a perfect evening.
An early start to the day will be required as the itinerary is jam packed. After an early breakfast head off to the Berlin falls, one of several falls in the area. Watch the water as it gushes off a red cliff-face plummeting down into a dark green pool below.
Take an 11-minute drive along the R534, or better known as the Panorama Route, which will lead you to Gods window. A measly R10 will grant you access to the panoramic view. Enjoy a leisurely hike that will take you up the steep escarpment to the viewpoints. Standing on a cliffs edge will captivate your senses; the regal views of the Lowveld are spectacular. The experience is pure poetry; you will understand why it is called Gods Window. Extravagant cliffs, lush forests and an array of hills will keep you entranced.
Next head to the Three Rondawels. Legend has it that the three peaks are named after Chief Maripi Mashile’s most troublesome wives. A ‘rondawel’ is also known as a hut with a grass roof. Three huge rocks in the formation of these rondawels form the backdrop of this vantage point. Be sure to take a selfie to recall this awesome moment for years to come. Also capture the Blyde River Canyon flowing serenely below.
Just off the main road, heading back to the hotel, you will find a tiny brown and white signpost with the words ‘BosKombuis’ written on it. Don’t blink or you might miss it! The short windy dirt road will take you to a rustic outdoor kitchen. This restaurant uses no electricity and is literally in the middle of nowhere. A wonderful respite for the adventurous and hungry visitor. Here you can find authentic bush cuisine cooked on an open fire, whilst enjoying an unspoiled river view. Don’t forget to carry cash as no credit cards are accepted.
After enjoying a scrumptious meal, I suggest a visit to the Lisbon Falls to walk off some calories after eating delicious bush cuisine. The Lisbon Falls are the highest falls in the area. What some don’t know is that the 90m falls offer a moderate hike to the bottom. The path is not always clearly defined and unless you are kitted out with proper hiking boots I would not advise that you embark on the journey. If you do decide to hike to the bottom you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of water plunging down into a pool. You could even indulge in a swim. Overall an exhilarating worthwhile experience.
Return to Flycatcher for a rest. Freshen up and enjoy a fabulous home cooked meal.
Another early morning start to the day will be required. The twin Mac Mac falls is a National Monument and a must-see. Enjoy the gushing water as it plummets into the George 65m below. Sadly, there is a wire mesh barricade that restricts your view but the viewing platform allows for some awesome camera pics. The area also has the Mac Mac pools, which allows for a swim and a braai. There is even a bird watching hiking trail.
Next we head off to the colourful and picturesque town of Pilgrims Rest. The entire ‘gold rush’ town has been preserved to depict its original splendour, ensuring that from the moment you enter the town you get a genuine feel of a bygone era. Infused with the fascinating architecture of the time, museums, historical sites, antiques and collectibles, you could find yourself captivated for a few hours. Buy a trinket or two.
By now you should have worked up quiet and appetite, so the next stop is Harry’s Pancakes. Harry’s Pancakes is so much more than a pancake dessert or a light snack; believe me, not all pancakes are the same. Tasting Harry’s pancakes is an experience to remember. Choose from an array of tasty fillings, savoury or sweet, and relish each bite.
Sadly it’s time to head back but not without a memorable experience and lots of selfies.