Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve is a hidden gem tucked away in the mountains of Mpumalanga, South Africa. The reserve is situated on the edge of the Greater Drakensberg Escarpment, spanning 2,500 hectares of breathtaking mountain scenery. It is located between the town of Ohrigstad and the historical village of Pilgrim’s Rest, making it an ideal spot for a peaceful and picturesque getaway.
One of the main attractions of the Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve is the dam itself. It offers exceptional fishing opportunities, with yellowtail, carp, tilapia, and catfish being particularly abundant. Canoeing and rowing are also popular pastimes for visitors. A pretty, shady picnic site is located at the far end of the dam, making it the perfect spot for a lazy lunch surrounded by the stunning mountain views.
Ohrigstad, the town where the reserve is located, is one of the oldest towns on the Panorama Route. It dates back to 1845 and has a rich history, with evidence of Iron and Stone Age relics being found in the area.
The reserve is also in close proximity to some of the most popular tourist attractions in the region, such as Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and Pilgrim’s Rest. This makes it an ideal base for exploring the area.
The reserve is easily accessible, lying roughly 10 kilometres from the turnoff to the Ohrigstad Dam on the R533 en route to Pilgrim’s Rest. Visitors can expect to see a variety of birdlife and large mammals, such as mountain reedbuck, bushbuck, grey rhebok, brown hyena, and the little South African hedgehog.
Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve is an idyllic destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the mountains. With its tranquil setting, rich history, and proximity to popular tourist attractions, it’s a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve and the surrounding area offer a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. One of the most popular activities is hiking, and one of the most scenic and challenging hikes in the area is the Hippo Trail.
The Hippo Trail
The Hippo Trail is located in the Blyde River Canyon, just a short distance from the Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve. The route is roughly 18 kilometers from beginning to end, making it a full-day hike. It’s advisable to start early so that you can complete the hike while it is light. To go on the hike, you will need to get a permit from the Forever Resort. It’s important to note that the resort is closed on Sundays.
The scenery along the Hippo Trail is truly spectacular, and visitors are encouraged to bring a camera to capture the beautiful views. The area is home to an abundance of wildlife and birdlife, including the chance to see hippos and other animals. However, it’s important to be cautious and not approach or disturb any animals seen along the trail.
In addition to hiking, the Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve and surrounding area also offer other outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing, and rowing at the dam, and birdwatching in the reserve. Visitors can also explore the rich history of Ohrigstad and the Panorama Route, visit nearby tourist attractions such as Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and try their hand at panning for gold at the historical village of Pilgrim’s Rest.
Long Tom Toboggan
The Long Tom Toboggan is a thrilling addition to the list of activities offered on the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The Panorama Route winds through the scenic Drakensberg Mountain Range, gorges, waterfalls, and forests, providing visitors with breathtaking views. The Long Tom Toboggan takes this experience to the next level, giving visitors the chance to careen through the mountains and forests at speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour.
The Long Tom Toboggan is the longest of its kind on the entire African continent, measuring a staggering 1.7 kilometers, or just over a mile. The entire length is equal to no fewer than 17 rugby fields. The track meanders through hundreds of hectares of a Natural Heritage Site in the Lowveld, showcasing the biodiversity and beauty of South Africa. And, because it is constructed above land, it causes no damage to the delicate environment around it.
The Long Tom Toboggan opened in 2016 and was based on the design of the alpine coaster in Europe, which comprises a steel monorail and a comfy little car. The twist and turns of the track are accompanied by gorgeous wildflowers and clean, crisp air as you experience the warm sunshine.
The Panorama Route is home to many other stunning attractions, which are great additions to your itinerary after you have careened around on the Long Tom Toboggan. Visitors can witness the splendor of the Mpumalanga landscapes when they see God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde River Canyon and the Pinnacle. In addition, the renowned Kruger National Park is a little over an hour’s drive from Misty Mountain and the Long Tom Toboggan. Here, visitors can see the Big 5 (elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, and leopard) and other wild animals in the beauty and comfort of their natural habitat.
The Long Tom Toboggan is a must-do activity for adventure seekers visiting the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga. It provides a thrilling and unique way to experience the natural beauty of the area, while also being environmentally friendly. And with the numerous other attractions in the area, visitors can make the most of their trip and experience the best of what Mpumalanga has to offer.
One of the most unique and interesting attractions on the Panorama Route is “The Shoe”. This building, shaped like a giant shoe, is not only filled with antique furniture, but it also houses a museum and art gallery. Visitors can admire the spectacular carvings made of wood and bronze, many of which are available for purchase.
While visiting “The Shoe”, visitors can also take a break and enjoy a bite to eat at the quaint tea garden and gift shop. The gift shop offers a variety of handcrafted curios that make great souvenirs, as well as tasty treats and Padkos (food for the road). The tea garden is spectacular and features a play area for kids and a fun treehouse to sit in and enjoy your meal. The menu offers a variety of options from toasted sandwiches, hamburgers, steaks, seafood platters, or breakfasts that are served all day.
The “Shoe” is a must-visit destination for those who love unique architecture and art. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, admiring the art, shopping for souvenirs, and enjoying a meal in a beautiful and peaceful setting. It’s definitely one of the Panorama Route’s hidden gems, and a great place to add to your itinerary while exploring the region.
Alpha Omega Cave
Another unique and fascinating attraction on the Panorama Route is the Alpha Omega Cave. This cave is not a natural one, but it’s a manmade display of the spirit world that is truly inspiring. The cave is filled with statues that depict different emotions and feelings during the crucifixion, accompanied by great sound and lighting effects that make the tour even more exciting.
The cave was created through the artist’s inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it’s truly admirable. There are seven rooms in the cave, each telling a story through art, and the seventh room is a chapel. This extraordinary cave is a must-visit destination for those who appreciate art, spirituality, and a unique experience.
The Alpha Omega Cave is located at The Shoe, where visitors can also find a museum, gift shop, and tea garden. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, admiring the art and visiting the other attractions at The Shoe, before or after visiting the cave. Overall, the Alpha Omega Cave is a unique and inspiring destination on the Panorama Route, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind experience that’s not to be missed.