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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrSouth Africa has an inexhaustible list of natural treasures and God's Window, Mpumalanga is one such precious treasure. No amount of tourism literature and travel guide books can prepare you for the wondrous views afforded by this collection of natural cliffs, and hence the name “God's Window” - if God ever wanted to peek at the splendid beauty of the Earth he'd created, this would be his viewing gallery. And so, it should be yours too!
If you go to God's Window on a clear day, the beautiful blue skies, valleys full of dazzling green foliage, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, and panoramic views that extend far into the horizon are really to die for. Being situated in the Drakensberg escarpment of the Mpumalanga province means that God's Window can be a trip that may be clubbed in with other local tourist spots such as the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the three Rondavels, and several waterfalls such as the Mac Mac pools and falls, Lone Creek Falls, Lisbon Falls as well as the Berlin Falls.
God's Window falls on Mpumalanga's well-known Panorama Route and consists of deathly cliffs that afford straight plunges of 700 or so meters and give some 'never seen anything quite like this' views of South Africa's Lowveld regions. On clear days, the visibility is so good that tourists can even see the neighboring Mozambique from one of the cliff's viewing points!
How To Get ThereLike most places in South Africa, the best and safest ways to get to God's Window is by taking your own or a hired car and driving down to it. Depending on which side you come from, you need to follow the signs to Graskop, a quaint little town that has the most delicious pancakes! Once there, you must take the R532 and follow the boards that point to Blyde's River Canyon. As you drive, you will notice another sign directing you to take the R534, where any Garmin will tell you that your destination will be on your right.
Of course, there are multiple ways to get there and though a GPS will get you there without hiccups, it might not always give the safest route to God's Window. It is best to try and not take any interior routes by sticking to the highways. GPS also has certain issues in this vicinity, especially if you are carrying an old one with the maps loaded on it being too antiquated to be right. There are clear road signs throughout the highways however, and once you know what names to lookout for, the travel to God's Window is a fairly easy one.
Things To See And ExperienceThe best thing to see at God's Window and indeed at the other nearby locations are the picturesque views of the local landscape and its unparalleled natural beauty. God's Window is a spectacular viewing location that falls on a 33-kilometer long gorge, namely Blyde's River Canyon. It is also one of the largest green canyons in the world, thus making it a thrilling photography destination for those who love 'green'.
The South African tourism department has really put in a lot of efforts to make God's Window as spectacular as it is today. There are neatly lain boardwalks (that alternate with stone pathways in certain places) that take you from the parking lot, up into the mountain. There are also clearly identifiable sign boards that point to certain directions as well as viewing locations. All locations are equipped with binoculars where enthusiasts can pay a few coins and get lucky with sightings of antelopes and exotic birds.
God's Window is all about hiking and if you are wearing comfortable shoes, as you should, you can cover the whole lot of ground without missing a single mile! And of course, once you're there and you've experienced the wonder, you wouldn't want to miss anything at all. Even the flora and fauna along the pathways is distinct and will make you want to take a closer look at it. Not sure if it is the temperatures here or the altitude, but some plant species that can be encountered here are rarely encountered elsewhere.
There is a small entry ticket for this lovely destination as there is with several other nearby locations, but once you capture the views and preserve them forever in your memory, you will feel appropriately rewarded for shelling out the Rands. Despite the regular throng of tourists all year round, God's Window is fairly clean, quiet, and perfect for picnics. Of course, you must tolerate the geckos, after all, you're visiting their home!
When you hike up along the mountain path, there is a sign that directs you to the 'rain forest'. To put it tactfully, please don't expect an Amazon in the middle of South Africa, but go in with an open mind for whatever type of forest it may or may not be, for it is beautiful. Wooden bridges take you across little streams of water as you walk through a fairly dense area in order get to viewing galleries on the other side of the mountain. This particular walk is fascinating, adventurous, invigorating, and energizing; completely worth your time!
The trick to enjoying God's Window completely is to go there when the curtains are open! If you go on cloudy, windy days, the visibility here is poor. Plan your trip after consulting the local weather forecast and you're off to a better start already. Just a word to note, there are no food stalls or any restaurants up in the hills and if you intend to stay long, it is best to carry your own food basket. When you are done with your trip, take care to throw your leftovers in the allocated bins so as to keep the area clean for other tourists.
If it is neither too late nor too early in the day, the side of the parking lot here has makeshift curio shops, where you can pick up local arts and crafts pieces from the local villagers. The prices may seem exorbitant for some of the pieces but of course, you can drive a hard bargain. African art is colorful and interesting, especially the woodwork and bead work. So, pick up a souvenir right before you get back in your car.
Things To Do And EnjoyThe Panorama Route, where God's Window is situated is a heaven for adventure seekers. If you seek adrenaline, there are several activities here that can get you off on a high. There are fabulous rock climbing sites all across the mountainous landscape, but if it is caving, white water rafting or bungee jumping that you prefer, there are several locations that you can drive yourselves down to in order to enjoy them. Additionally, you can even drive along the 4x4 routes in your 4x4s or try the horse riding trails. Mountain biking and quad biking facilities are also present here.
If the extravagant beauty of God's Window leaves you craving for more, you can hop in your cars and chase the many waterfalls in this region. The Berlin and Lisbon Falls, which lie just north of the Graskop village, are beautiful falls that are truly worth a visit. The signs to get here are not very clear with their directions so if you stop over at Graskop and get yourself a map, you will be better catered to.
Getting to the Lisbon Falls will require you to park your car and then take a short hike through the wild forest. Once you reach Lisbon Falls, you will be totally enthralled. The fall and the small water pool that it falls into are inviting and cool, especially on a hot day, the spray from the fall feels like a breath of fresh air. There seems to be no supervision so it seems one could take a dip here, of course at one's own risk! On the way out of there, a sign will direct you to Berlin Falls, which is also really close. There is a viewing gallery perched high in the mountain that can give you perfect views of this massive waterfall.
The Mac Mac pool and waterfall is quite a bit further away from these other falls but if you are here for a considerable length of time, they simply cannot be left out of your itinerary. Same case with Bourke's Luck Potholes and the three Rondavels mountain peaks.
For animal lovers, the Moholoholo Rehab Center, which is just north of Graskop, is a must-see site. In fact, the area is so packed with animal centers that it is difficult to choose just one, but Moholoholo is worth the mention. Echo caves, Lone Creek and Horeshoe Falls, and Forest Falls (where you have to take a 7-kilometer hike into the forest) are also worth the trouble of consideration. If you are there for longer stays, you can give all the things to see and do proper justice.
Things To Avoid And Local TipsAs with most tourist tips that pertain to tourists in South Africa, this one also emphasizes not wearing flashy jewelry, carrying fancy gadgets, or keeping too much visible cash on display. These are all invitations for trouble, which of course one should never encounter when one is on a holiday! Stick to the well traveled roads and avoid talking to or taking the help of strangers. South African locals are an extremely friendly bunch of people and this may be more difficult than you think.
When traveling to God's Window, check the weather forecast beforehand and plan accordingly. Carry a large rimmed hat and sunscreen, for the sun can be quite unrelenting here. Wear comfortable shoes and carry food whenever possible. Have a safe and memorable trip.
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Author: Sayali Bedekar Patil. Last updated: Sep 16, 2014