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bineba Pilgrim's Rest - A travel report by Sabine
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Pilgrim's Rest,  South Africa - flag South Africa
8968 readers

bineba's travel reports

Canyons, Waterfalls and Pancakes

  14 votes
Page: 1 2
We were based near the small former mining town Pilgrim’s Rest and the scenery was almost European - mountains covered by pine forests – apart from the baboons!


The Three Rondavels
The Three Rondavels
Mpumalanga, formerly part of the Transvaal, means ‘Place of the Rising Sun’, about 4 hours to the east of Johannesburg and Pretoria has a lot to offer and is definitely worth a stop over for a few days on the way to Kruger National Park. The landscape varies from subtropical vegetation and banana, mango and citrus plantations in the southern part of the Eastern Lowveld to dry bushveld in the north and the spectacular Klein Drakensberg mountain range offering some of South Africa’s best hiking trails. Public transport is not great and the best way to see the region is by hiring a car. Nelspruit is probably the best place to stock up on provisions, but Lydenburg, Hazyview and Graskop also have supermarkets. This region is also malaria free, which is a plus.

Favourite spots:
Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon is the third biggest canyon in the world and nearly 30 km long. The drive along the western rim offers several spots to stop and take in the beautiful scenery. The most spectacular for me was the sight of the Three Rondavels, just off the R532. We arrived there quite late in the afternoon, just before closing time (5pm) and the setting sun bathed the rock formations in a golden glow with the mist rolling in at the bottom of the canyon and the Blydepoort Dam.

What's really great:
Berlin Falls
Berlin Falls
There are fantastic waterfalls everywhere, all easily accessible, with just a few minutes walk from the parking lots, where you also find African craft markets. We visited MacMac Falls, Lisbon Falls and Berlin Falls. Elands Falls near Waterval-Boven is also beautiful and can be reached by walking through a disused railway tunnel. For about a minute or two you are in absolute darkness, before you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sights:
In Pilgrim's Rest
In Pilgrim's Rest
Pilgrim’s Rest, west of the Drakensberg escarpment in the state of Mpumalanga, used to be a magnet to gold and silver prospectors in the late 19th century who flocked here to strike it rich after the precious metal was discovered in 1873. After 10 years the big mining companies moved in and stayed until the 1970’s. When they left, the town was declared a national monument and is thus a village that is also a museum. Many of the original buildings, built from corrugated iron and timber, are still standing, including the Royal Hotel, the Old Print House and Dredzen’s General Store. Check out the petrol station, straight out of a 1920’s movie! Juxta-positioned between these you find stalls and shops selling local African art. The village is divided between and ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown’ area with the sights divided between both, with the ‘uptown’ area having a slight edge as it also is home of St.Mary’s Church and the cemetery with the famous Robber’s Grave.

Accommodations:
Crystal Springs Mountain Resort
Crystal Springs Mountain Resort
We stayed at the Crystal Springs Mountain Resort, an award winning self-catering resort about 5 km from Pilgrim’s Rest. The resort has its own game reserve and the accommodation, thatched semi-detached chalets with great views, are quite spread out, so you don’t feel crammed. The resort itself has two restaurants and a pub, a game room with pool, table tennis and board games. There’s Squash, tennis, mini golf, bike hire, trampolines, a health club and four swimming pools. Our chalet had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a big dining/living room with an open fire place. The west facing balcony was huge, with an electric braai and was the perfect place to watch the sun go down and have a few sundowners.

Hangouts:
The Loco Coachman in Graskop
The Loco Coachman in Graskop
There is a pub within the resort which has a nice atmosphere to enjoy a quiet pint. The bar staff were very friendly.
We also went to a pub in Graskop, called The Loco Coachman, in a converted old railway station. Inside: lots of train memorabilia; outside: a huge beer garden. Didn’t have anything to eat there, but the meals that were carried past us looked good and were huge!

Restaurants:
Scott's Cafe in Pilgrim's Rest
Scott's Cafe in Pilgrim's Rest
There are two restaurants at the Crystal Springs Resort, but we were self-catering and didn’t try them, but entries in the guest book at the reception were full of praise.
There are quite a few restaurants in Pilgrim’s rest and in Graskop. We had breakfast one day at Scott’s Café in Pilgrim’s Rest. Try any of the sweet or savoury pancakes (a speciality of the region) and you won’t be disappointed. The Breakfast Pancake comes with bacon and banana, a great combination. When we came out of the restaurant our car had been washed in the parking lot and a sign saying ‘Car Wash’ had magically appeared next to it. We did end up paying, but it wasn’t much, and the car probably needed a wash anyway!

Other recommendations:
Bourke's Luck
Bourke's Luck
Bourke’s Luck potholes are rock formations carved out by the whirlpools of two rivers, Blyde and Treur. There is a good visitors’ centre and the footpaths to the potholes are well maintained and made easily accessible by wooden bridges. There are a couple of smaller waterfalls and although you are not allowed to swim in the rivers, there are lots of places you can sit on a rock and cool your aching feet in the flowing water.



Published on Tuesday October 19th, 2004


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Sun, Jul 31 2005 - 03:41 PM rating by carolr

Hi Sabine,
I am full of cold, and have just been transported to Pilgrim's rest by your excellent report.
Yhank you so much, a super report, you obviously enjoyed your trip!
Best wishes
Carolr

Wed, Oct 20 2004 - 08:49 AM rating by gloriajames

Thanks for sharing this lovely place. Will have to visit S.Africa one day! Brilliant report. A 5*!!!

Wed, Oct 20 2004 - 05:39 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent report on one my favorite regions!

Wed, Oct 20 2004 - 03:10 AM rating by saleha

Dear Sabine,

Wonderful report...complete with the information on sites to see n also how to make the stay enjoyable n comfortable...I just love the pics you have incorporated in the report...(Y)...keep sharing your experiences...

Wed, Oct 20 2004 - 12:44 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report by you sabine again and the place is also very fantastic.
ravi

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 06:27 PM rating by fieryfox

I enjoyed this report very much, well written ad informative. Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 05:35 PM rating by picasso

Wonderfully written report about divine place on earth.
Is MacMac and Lisbon falls as beautiful as Berlin Falls?

Best wishes,
Boris

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 04:47 PM rating by mortimer

Hi Sabine
Nice report about scenic place, are you already back? Looking forward to additons to your gallery to, the pics here look promising!
Martin

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