Four hours’ drive east of Johannesburg International Airport is one of the city’s favoured mountain retreats: the waving grasslands and luxury guesthouses of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg, generally known as the Escarpment. While most travellers visit the region purely because of its proximity to the Kruger National Park, it provides some of the most dramatic views in the country, which can be enjoyed with little effort, even if you are simply passing through en route to Kruger. This tour of these highlands, known as the Panorama Route, can also be taken as an organized day-trip by numerous tour operators in Nelspruit. The main draw of the Escarpment is the Blyde River Canyon, whose dizzying views into one of the world’s great gorges appear in countless South African tourist brochures. In addition to a number of viewpoints along the Escarpment lip, the canyon has hiking trails which give access to the flora and (if you’re quiet and lucky) fauna of the reserve, including zebra, hippo, kudu and numerous primates – baboons, vervet and samango monkeys and bushbabies.
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