Graskop, a small town in the Mpumalanga province in north-eastern South Africa, is gateway to Kruger National Park and some of the country’s most spectacular natural wonders – from the plunging waters at Berlin Falls to Pinnacle Rock, a natural freestanding quartzite tower rising 30m from dense forest. Not far you’ll also find God’s Window with its panoramic views of the Lowveld down into the lush ravine. Here are some of the best places to stay.
Set serenely on the banks of a private lake and with seven comfortable double rooms, this is a perfect place to shower away the dust of the day and float in the infinity pool before a wholesome meal. The closest gate to the Kruger National Park is just 25km away. The lodge offers Panorama Route Tours with field guides in open vehicles.
This Victorian-style B&B in the centre of town has plush garden suites with draped beds and rolltop baths. If it’s available, ask for the first-floor bedroom “Madelief” with its sloping eves, decorated in a fresh and simple style in white and pale blue. Dine at a restaurant in the village after visiting the Berlin Falls or God’s Window, both only 12km away.
Basic accommodation in thatched chalets situated in a large wetlands garden. With bare brick walls and wood and cane furnishings, each chalet has a small kitchen. If you don’t fancy cooking, there’s a restaurant and places to braai (barbecue). You’re a two-minute drive from Graskop Gorge Lift Company – a glass lift that drops you 50m down the face of the gorge into the indigenous forest where you’ll find wooden walkways and suspension bridges meandering along a magical trail.
With its pillared verandas and slow-churning white fans, this is straight Out of Africa. If you feel like splurging, opt for the regency-style Ballentine suite with its mahogany canopy bed, views over the forest and private plunge pool – Nelson Mandela once stayed in this very suite. Dine at the Blue Mountain’s award-winning restaurant, which uses home-grown vegetables, avocados, litchis and even coffee.
Built on a family farm around a natural rock formation with views over the Hazyview area, this unusual self-catering lodge can accommodate up to 12 people in four ensuite rooms, though small groups are also welcome. There are two big dining rooms, where you can enjoy the meals you whip up in what’s accurately described as a “gourmet kitchen”. And there’s an indoor pool to cool down in.
This sprawling family-friendly stone lodge in the Misty Mountain Natural Heritage Site on Long Tom Pass has been run by the Sheard family for just over 45 years. At 1700m above sea level, it has stunning views and simple but comfortable units sleeping two to 10 people. There’s a pub, indoor games room, playground and two pools, and it’s home to the Long Tom Toboggan run – the longest toboggan run in Africa, where you can reach speeds of up to 45km/h on a heart-thumping ride.
Once part of the original gold-mining village of Sabie, this historic home has been converted into a stylish B&B. You can go hiking and birding on the estate and there’s even a secret waterfall nearby. The friendly owners have made their indulgent alfresco breakfasts their hallmark – free-range eggs, locally grown coffee, fresh tropical fruits and home-made preserves. For dinner, explore the village restaurants with menus offering crocodile or warthog.
Set on a working trout-farm with two well-stocked dams, this is a haven for fishing, bird-watching and mountain biking. The thatch and stone lodge has comfortable suites with private patios above the pine forest. You can stay on a DBB basis (it’s renowned for its meals), or self-cater in a well-equipped cottage. Fly fishing lessons can be arranged. There’s a swimming pool and sauna to end the day.
These recommendations were updated on December 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.