Hi David! Can you tell us about what you do please?
My tours tend to be longer than other guides’ — people seem to generate a lot of questions! I believe there’s a lot of discipline involved in guiding, and a passion for the industry is essential. I’ve now been doing it for 22 years; 15 years in this part of Mpumalanga. It’s a special place: there are so many diverse cultures, each with their own unique characters. And the views across Blyde River Canyon are stunning.
What is The Panorama Route, and what are its major sights?
The Panorama Route encompasses some of South Africa’s most stunning scenery, right here around the Blyde River Canyon. At 16 miles long, it’s the third largest canyon in the world.
There’s also the Lisbon Falls, Graskop Gorge and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which is a beautiful geological feature created by swirling water erosion where two rivers meet. And, of course, there’s the short hike to the lookout at God’s Window. They say on a clear day you can see to the ocean in Mozambique.
What was life like for the first European settlers?
If you’re a keen historian, you’ll find this region very interesting. There are various tales of pioneers who came to settle in Pilgrims Rest looking for gold. One of the best resources, is Percy Fitzpatrick’s Jock of the Bushveld, which is set in these parts and tells the trials and tribulations of the author and his dog, Jock.
How can a traveller visit responsibly?
Support the local community by buying their arts and crafts that they sell at sights along The Panorama Route. Obviously, you can’t buy from every little shop you come across, but don’t wait until you get to Johannesburg — buy from the local community. It really helps to boost morale.
What, for you, makes South Africa special?
The diversity — it has so many cultures and areas of natural beauty to explore. The vastness of the country, too. You can go from one part of the country to another and see something completely different.