Michele du Plessis
As in fairy tales, wardrobes, mirrors and rabbit holes may lead to secret gardens and amazing adventures. And this is what the Graskop Gorge glass lift does: it leads the way down to a secret garden…
The lifestyle centre, centrally located on the Panorama Route, is a tourist’s dream boasting a number of small retail outlets, a community craft market and a restaurant situated on the cliff edge. The main attraction, however, is the glass lift that takes you down 51 meters, whilst you enjoy the spectacular view of the waterfall and Afromontane forest around you. The 600m interpretation trail on the valley floor, comprised of elevated boardwalks and suspension bridges, takes you on a scenic walk through the forest, over the river and to the foot of the waterfall. Towering trees, tiny flowers or clusters of mushroom that contend for attention with towering rocks, the rushing waterfall, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, serenity…this is all part of the magic.
“As iconic as the Graskop Gorge lift development is, it alone cannot establish the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga as one of the country’s major tourism nodes,” Campbell Scott, one of the directors of the Graskop Gorge Lift Co (GGLC), said at the media launch on February 23rd.
Campbell said meetings had already taken place with local authorities and tourist and business organisations to see how a partnership can be forged to put the Graskop, Sabie, Hazyview and Pilgrim’s Rest area on the international map as a choice tourist destination. “It is our vision to develop the Panorama Route into an iconic destination,” said Campbell, who also owns Hazyview’s Skyway Trails.
With regard the Graskop Gorge lift development, he said that there is nowhere else in the region that allows wheelchair-bound people access to views as spectacular as those that can be enjoyed from the centre’s viewing decks, restaurant and bar. Part of the forest trail is even wheelchair friendly. Oupa Pilane, also a GGLC director and president of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism, said that the lift development was a good start in achieving their vision of a tourist mecca. “It has brought much-needed investment, energy and employment to the region,” he said.