Plunging more than a thousand metres to the Lowveld from the highlands of the Transvaal Drakensberg, the Blyde River cuts away the massive escarpment to carve out the only true canyon in South Africa.
Viewed from a height of some 700 metres (2296.5 miles), the river threads through bands of fynbos and temperate rain forest to the dense pile of tropical bush on the plain.
The Panorama Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg. Here, in the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld a thousand metres below.
This view is most reliable in the dry winter months. At other times the spectacle is often impaired, since the escarpment is a barrier for the clouds coming from the east, rising at this point and bringing a lot of rain.
The most spectacular stretch is the Blyde River Canyon. From many well-positioned vantage points one has a view of the 33km (20.5 miles) long gorge, which starts at 'Bourke's Luck Potholes' and ends at the 'Three Rondavels'. The Potholes are very impressive rock formations that were shaped millions of years ago by erosion. The bizarre swirl holes developed when the once rapid river carried masses of sand and debris.
The towns of Lydenburg and White River are gateways to the panoramic route, which takes visitors through the quaint towns of Pilgrim's Rest, a living museum dating back to the hey days of the gold rush, as well as Sabie, Graskop, Ohrigstad and Hazyview.
Nature enthusiasts will discover cascading water falls while adrenaline junkies can get their next rush by bungee jumping, white water rafting or going on rigorous 4x4 trails. Gentler pursuits include hot air ballooning, walking trails and gold panning.