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Panorama route

Houston, Texas
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Panorama route

We want to see the Panorama Route while on our way to Kruger, or maybe while going between a camp in Timbavati and Mala Mala. One agent has said self-driving is fine, another agent has suggested that because of driving on the left side/poor cars/bad roads/bad drivers/not knowing where we're going and seeing/safety concerns, that we should hire a car and driver. I'd like to hear from other tourists what you think about any concerns about driving ourselves. I've driven in other countries, but Africa might be a bit different. Thanks.

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Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Panorama route

We self drove over 5,000 kms from Kruger to Cape Town and had no problems at all. It was a wonderful scenic experience. We are doing self drive again this September although a shorter trip. I have given detailed advice on TA about self driving and what to do in terms of practical advice, to make sure all goes well. One important piece of advice for a safe trip is not to drive at night. We had to do some long hauls into night time and I would not recommend it. Cars with no headlights, people on the road and so on. Make sure your arrive at your lodgings by sunset. The following posts written by the Aussie contingency provide you with advice and issues to address

tripadvisor.com.au/…49859773

The roads in Sth Africa are generally good but you have the added issue of driving on the wrong side of the road lol. This may take a bit of getting used to but just keep in mind, left tyre to left gutter and you will get the hang of it.

Randburg, Gauteng...
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2. Re: Panorama route

Hello, the roads around the Panorama Route are very good and well signposted. Then you will need directions to get to Timbavati, but it is not difficult at all. Why dont you stay an extra night and then you wont be pushed for time. I assume you will depart for ORTambo airport and were thinking of driving via the route to the lodge. You normally want to get to the lodge in time for the afternoon game drive which starts around 4pm. Which means you will have to rush the route in order to make it. I have a suggestion, book a night at Graskop Hotel, I always do, and it just gives time to enjoy this lovely scenic route. The hotel is lovely, nice food and well run, very well priced too. Then the next day you can have a leisurely drive to Timbavati without rushing. I think you are brave wanting to drive yourself, the biggest problems are the 16/20 seater taxis which have no regard for anyone, anything and upset all the road users. If you are going to drive to Mala Mala, you will have to drive through a terrible area, around Bushbuckridge where there are sheep, cows, goats, children, chickens in the road, and unroadworthy cars who stop anywhere. So just to consider that route is not nice at all, but the only way to get there.

Lyn - Owner - Thorntree Tours and Safaris

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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3. Re: Panorama route

I live in a different world, apparently. Rather than contradict the previous poster, I would just say that I have a different viewpoint. The Bushbuckridge area is congested and busy.. yes. Terrible? Not so much. Roads are in good condition and all you really need is patience. When you see children along the roadside they will likely be going to, or coming from school. All fitted out in their school uniforms. And the roads really are not overrun with farm animals. And the beatup cars are driven by folks too poor to have anything better. It's authentic Africa countryside - learn from it, don't be scared of it, please.

Somerset
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4. Re: Panorama route

I really dont think it is possible to drive from OR Tambo to Timbavati via the Blyde River Canyon and do it justice in the one day.

There are quite a number of waterfalls worth a visit, Berlin, Lisbon, Bridal Veil and Mac Mac falls are our favourites. Then there is the Pinnacle and God's Window and Wonderview followed by Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels just to name some of the places you will be tempted to stop and admire.

If you can possibly fit it into your itinerary I would have an overnight stop in Sabie or Graskop as Lyn M says.

Turn off the N4 near Belfast and take the R36 to Lydenburg, there take the R37 towards Sabie and go ove Long Tom Pass, fantastic scenery. At Sabie you are in "waterfall country" as you head towards Graskop. Just enjoy a leisurely drive and if possible overnight in Graskop. the following day drive along the canyon and see the remaining sights (R532) Then keep heading towards Hoedspruit and go over Abel Erasmus Pass (more fantastic scenery) on the R36 through Strijdom Tunnel until you turn off onto the R527 towards Hoedspruit. When you get to Hoedspruit, small town, you will come to the main cross=roads with traffic lights (robots in Afrikaans) turn right on to the R40 after 6 km you will get the sign for a left turn to East Gate Airport you are now on the road to Timbavati Gate. There are many game reserves so you get loads of sign-posts for all the different reserves but basically you keep straight on until you reach Timbavati

I am sure that you would find this a much better schedule than trying to rush it all in one day.

When you eventually leave Timbavati you again head back towards the R40 and have to drive through Acornhoek and Bushbuckridge. I totally agree with bwanadave, yes it is very busy in these towns and certainly the driver has to be very alert for the odd stray cow, goat etc lots of activity but we find them fascinating to drive through. Keep a look out for some of the home-made signs, hilarious. Certainly gives you some idea of how "the other half live". A lot of maintenance and improvement has been carried out on the R40 over the past couple of years so not bad to drive at all.

Enjoy your trip

Hong Kong, China
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for Holiday Travel, Food and Travel, Macau
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5. Re: Panorama route

>>>>I'd like to hear from other tourists what you think about any concerns about driving ourselves.<<<<

We've done this more than once and found the driving to be quite easy to be honest. There are not vast numbers of vehicles on the road in this area of South Africa, road signs are clearly posted and easy to follow and stopping points have staff to watch your vehicles. Its a very nice experience self-driving the Panorama Route around Blyde River Canyon in our opinion.

Here is a trip list we compiled last year for doing this drive. Have a look if helpful.

Panorama Route – Blyde River Canyon

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i30411-Panorama…

Have a great trip to South Africa

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Panorama route

somerset., I 'd like to ask a related question. If I leave OR Tambo lets say 1030 or 11, I should arrive at hazyview around 4 pm. If I start early the next day (what's the better time to leave- 800 a.m.?), can I do the panorama view and end in hoedspruit before it gets dark/ I may be there in april so the sunset is a wee bit earlier than in summer. Thanks.

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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7. Re: Panorama route

He may be in bed by now.. I'll give it a shot.

Yes.. the distances are not so great, so you manage the experience by keeping an eye on how long you stop each time along the way. An extended hike would eat up time, of course.. Just viewing at the various stops won't use so much time, so basically a full day doing the 'loop' from Hazyview - to Hoedspruit, can easily be done by nightfall.

Randburg, Gauteng...
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8. Re: Panorama route

Hellol, it depends on where you are staying that night, are you overnighting in Hoedspruit? You say you want to get there before dark. Yes 8am is fine to leave at that time, do the Panorama Route, and get to Hoedspruit by the afternoon. You will take the route from Hazyveiw towards the town of Graskop, then up the Panorama Route, when you come to the TJunction you turn right and go up the Abel Erasmus Pass which is very scenic. Just 500m off the road if you turn on the Road 36 there is a lovely Baobab tree just as you cross the river. Go back to the main road (527) and stop lunch at Mad Dogz cafe, lovely food and atmospshere. Then just 50 odd kms to Hoedspruit. If you have time stop in and say hello to Jessica the Hippo, a Hippo that was hand reared and lives wild now in the river with other hippos, but stills come to visit the place where she was reared. It is just after the Snake Park.

Lyn - Owner - Thorntree Tours and Safaris

Somerset
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3,529 posts
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9. Re: Panorama route

Good morning says he rubbing sleep from his eyes!

As bwanadave and Lyn m say, quite feasible leaving around 8 am. Easy driving and very little traffic on that route.

Definately endorse the suggestion to visit Jessica if you have time in Hoedspruit. We tend to overnight in Hoedspruit, pop down to see Jess around 10 am and then carrry on to our game reserve.

Hand feeding a hippo is definately an "experience". My wife was even invited to give her a kiss on the "nose" now that is something to have on a video ! Toni and Shirley last year rescued another abandoned baby hippo who they are rearing, as they did Jessica. He wasn't ready to receive visitors when we were there last November but may well be by now.

Houston, Texas
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10. Re: Panorama route

Thanks for all the thoughtful and useful feedback. We do intend to overnight somewhere along the route -- Hazyview has been suggested, Graskop looks to me like it might be somewhat better located. We definitely will do the PR, it looks like there is plenty to see, but I still have to decide if I want to drive it myself or hire a car and driver.