Scenic Sabie and the Sudwala Caves

Earlier this year I wrote about a longing to be surrounded by mountains, tall trees and crystal clear lakes. I wanted to go to Alaska, but we settled on visiting South Africa’s “Panorama” area in Mpumalanga, combined with a few days’ visit to the Kruger Park. It was a surprisingly enjoyable holiday – not only was the area picture-perfect and deserted (we went right after schools had started again), but it was only a few hours’ drive from Pretoria and very affordable.

We had a week in which we had originally planned to wander along the Panorama Route, but at the last minute decided to make our base in the centrally-located town of Sabie. We camped on the banks of the Sabie river at the beautiful Merry Pebbles resort, which I would highly recommend. It was everything I had wanted for that holiday – peaceful, underneath looming trees, right next to the mountain, the river burbling on our doorstep and friendly wake-up calls every morning from two of the resident duck population.

A misty haziness greeted us the first morning, so we decided to spend the day exploring the Sudwala Caves. Apparently the oldest known caves in the world, our guide had many interesting stories and anecdotes to relate about their history (how many of them were actually true I don’t know now, but they were all highly entertaining!). When we’d had our fill of strange rock formations with creative names (King Kong, the Weeping Madonna and the Devil’s Pulpit, to name but a few), we lunched at the restaurant overlooking the Sudwala valley, glad that the mist had lifted by then.

The Sudwala Dinosaur Park is adjacent to the Caves, but we decided not to visit it this time. A stolen glimpse over the wall convinced us that it was aimed at younger visitors.

So we headed back to our camp site, taking the scenic route winding through verdant forest plantations. The area is known for its splendid hiking trails and is absolutely beautiful. There are a number of places to stop and admire the view (when the mist isn’t obscuring it), but more about that in my next few posts…

How do you feel about local versus foreign holidays? Which do you prefer and why?

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