Outbound Collective logo

A peek through God's window

There is something about the promise of a warm sunrise and the open road. I answer the call of the mountains. And find peace and calm. And a healthy dose of waffles and walks!

By: Heather Arnold + Save to a List

Doubt is a terrible thing. Self-doubt is even worse.

I had to make a risky career decision, and the unknowns were scary. But I made the leap, and resigned from my job, without anything else concrete lined up. I had applied for another job, but was awaiting feedback.

So, rather than sitting at home fretting about whether I would have an income in a months’ time, I instead decided to tick off a bucket-list trip, and visit God.

Well ok, God’s Window.

Located in Graskop, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, God’s Window is part of a network of hills and mountains offering the most spectacular views. Rumour has it that on clear days (and really good eyesight) you can even see the Mozambique coastline!

Around 400km from where I stay in Centurion, Gauteng, it’s around a 4hr30 drive along some really beautiful winding roads. And some really terrible pot-holed ones!

With time on my hands, a bee in my bonnet, a tank full of gas, and the desire to be amongst granite giants, I decided to make a roadtrip of it, and set off early on a Saturday morning in March. Destination: Dullstroom!

250km away, I had two objectives in mind for my first stop: do the Dullstroom Park Run, and eat waffles. Because who doesn't want to wake up at 4am on a Saturday to drive 2hrs30 to take part in a 5km run on a weekend off…

The Park Run route is two laps of the Dullstroom Dam, and is absolutely beautiful. You can camp or rent little chalets on the dam, which offers fishing and paddling. And the Park Run itself is on single track, with all sorts of birds and animals (ok, horses). I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and was very glad about my decision to get up at 4am to get there on time.

Mind and soul fueled, it was time to fuel the body. Next stop: Waffle & Co, found in the bustling main street.

Dullstroom is quaint, with weekend markets, and a wide variety of coffee shops, restaurants and shops selling all manner of knick-knacks.

The vibe is very relaxed; it’s touristy without being touristy, and reminds me a lot of Greyton in the Western Cape.

Revitalized, it was time to hit the road again.

Up until now, it was smooth sailing (very little traffic at 5am on a Saturday), but from Dullstroom the road condition deteriorated considerably, and while traffic was still light, care had to be taken to avoid all of the potholes.

I wasted no time in Lydenberg, a town which was probably once great, but was now falling apart, and played more dodge-em with potholes on the winding road to Pilgrim's Rest. The views were stunning (I talk about the view a lot…).

Pilgrim's Rest was not quite what I expected. Why I expected more, I don't know. But it has become the typical little tourist trap "dorpie", with people you hounding you for money from the moment you arrive.

I took a short walk down the street, drank a Coke, and made my way out of there. Apparently the museum is worth a visit. But with every person approaching me for money, I lost interest quickly.

On the way out I stopped briefly at one of the Old Digging's sites. I don't have much more to say about that, as I got out of my car, looked at a piece of land, and left.

The road to Graskop is beautiful and twisty, but with taxi's and people attempting to be the world's next F1 champion, it was not the place to take advantage of the car's sports mode. Regrettably.

So instead I took it slow, and stopped often to admire the view.

I arrived in Graskop a little after 1pm, found my accommodation, and was greeted by a little snake crossing the road. I love it! Despite living in Botswana for over 3 years, I saw very few snakes in the wild, and find them fascinating creatures.

Checked in and bags dumped in the room, I went exploring.

The waffles had long ago been digested, so I followed my stomach and found myself at Divine Foods at The View, which overlooks the Graskopkloof. A restaurant, it also offers accommodation.

The toasted chicken mayo was disappointing, but the view was stunning, and I made a mental note to come back at sunrise.

With many hours still left in the day, I set about exploring the area, intrigued by all the little waterfall pins on the map.

First stop: Lisbon Falls.

There were quite a few cars in the parking lot, as well as a number of stalls selling touristy things, typical of South Africa. And a sign saying payment was required to see the falls. I can’t remember the price, but I decided it was not worth it considering the amount of people, and distinct lack of thundering water and rising mist.

So I turned and left, parking near a bridge on my way out, and admiring at the river.

I drove the loop of road that takes you past Pinnacle Rock, God’s Window, Rainforest and Wonder View, all of these places asking for an entrance fee to be paid in order to enter. Each place had an entrance fee, and eventually I decided to just bite the bullet and went to God’s Window. It was the reason I was here, afterall.

Well, it was worth the fee. You walk along the edge of the mountain on paths that have been constructed of stone and wood, and are graced with the most beautiful views of mountains as far as the eye can see. I didn’t see the Mozambique coastline, but I was blown away by the beauty nonetheless.

It was a beautiful evening, so when I left I drove the long way round and eyed out more spots that would be great for watching the sunrise.

I enjoyed the beautiful, quiet, winding roads with the windows down and the warm evening air filling my lungs and ruffling my hair.

I was up early on Sunday morning and hit the road to the Wonder View area, where I was graced with the most beautiful sunrise.

Then I headed to Lisbon Falls. With no gates or fences, and no one around, I had the place to myself and explored the rocks. It was beautiful and such an incredible feeling to hear the water and the birds, and experience the world waking up on a cool, clear morning. As has become my tradition when exploring, I hung my legs over the edge for a photo (and the experience of being on the edge. Literally).

Ready to tackle the day, my next point of interest was to explore the trails of the Graskopkloof, beginning at the Jock Trail Park Run. I did some of the Park Run route, and then explored sections of the Jock of the Bushveld Trail. Fortunately I mapped this out in Garmin and saved it to my watch, as there were a number of occasions where the path simply disappeared into the dense bush.

It was a beautiful, albeit hot, morning out, and I didn’t see a single soul. On my way back I decided to cool off in the river, and spend some time just sitting and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

I headed back to my accommodation for a much-need shower, and slathering of After Sun, and relaxed until later in the afternoon, when I set out again. This time, to visit Pinnacle Rock. I had decided that I had come such a long way, and it would be a waste not to see everything I could, even if it meant paying entrance fees.

Pinnacle Rock is a really big rock. And quite a cool valley. I walked around a bit, and as with this morning, hung my legs off the edge of a rock.

My soul full, my body tired, it was time to return to my accommodation and nurse my sunburn.

Monday was another early start, this time to head to The View to catch the sunrise. A couple of other people were there to enjoy the view, but mostly I got to sit with my own thoughts.

Then it was back “home” to pack, have some breakfast and hit the road.

Next stop: Sabie!

The road was winding and beautiful, with many forestry roads branching off into the trees. I was dying to go and explore them, but unfortunately I was not in the right vehicle, and I decided that I would return one day.

I stopped at the Mac Mac falls, which are beautiful.

And I made a turn at the Mac Mac Pools, but they are another spot that require an entrance fee. Again, I can’t remember the exact amount, but it was a lot more than all of the other places, and I decided it wasn’t worth paying just to look at some water.

[Side note: I understand that not everything can be free, and places require upkeep. But to charge individual fees for each of these places adds up quickly. I was travelling alone, and this would have added a couple hundred Rand to my expenses. Not much to someone with Dollars or Euro’s, but quite significant for South African’s, especially if they’re travelling with kids!]

On entering Sabie, you are greeted by signs for the Sabie Falls.

I followed them and was met by closed gates in need of repair, a dilapidated building, and no sign of life or indication of when the falls were open to the public.

Disappointed but undeterred, I drove around a bit and discovered I could access the Falls on foot. With no signs saying "no entry" I once again played tour guide to myself, and had a walk around.

The grounds were really clean and scenic, perfect for picnics, and I was sad to see that, like most places, they were on their way to ruin due to lack of interest from those with the power to make them something great for all to enjoy.

Self-tour complete, I returned to Google and came across the Bridal Veil Falls, and I decided it was a good idea to go and visit. The roads were not car-friendly, but I managed to nurse my way through.

It’s a short hike from the parking lot to the falls, and like all the others, they were spectacular.

Exploration complete, I nursed my car back the way I had come, and drove to my accommodation; The Woodsman Bed & Breakfast, where I was greeted with the most amazing owner who advised me that I had been upgraded to a bigger, self-catering room. Thanks!

It was early afternoon and I had worked up an appetite. You can’t go to Sabie and not visit the Sabie Brewing Co., which I duly did. I was the only person there (it was a Monday afternoon afterall), and enjoyed a chicken mayo (delicious) and beer tasting board (divine!), while watching the people going about their day.

I enjoyed the beer so much I took a box home. And got a slice of stout cake to take back to my B&B for an evening snack.

Sabie is another quaint little town that was probably magnificent but is starting to deteriorate. They have a really great idea of a walking route through the town, with significant places, and it’s all numbered so you can follow a route. I lost a number somewhere and ended up just meandering around the next morning.

With a heavy heart, I packed my things and hit the road, driving home via the Long Tom Pass, and stopping at the Long Tom Cannon. With an effective firing range of up to 9km (5.6mi), four of these cannons were used in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War.

There is opportunity to spice up this site, but otherwise it’s just a really beautiful view point. Though, it is very impressive when you continue driving and come across a board marking a crater from the cannon in the hillside, and you look back to where the cannon is and appreciate the sheer power of something from the 1900’s!

My route took me back through Dullstroom where I stopped for lunch at Harrie’s Pancakes. The Waffle Co was better! And before I knew it I was back home, and back to the realities of the world, and day dreams of the most perfect weekend getaway.

For those looking for a weekend trip out of the hustle and bustle, or those visiting from overseas, I highly recommend a visit to Dullstroom, Graskop and Sabie!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell