On the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga – the Shoe house
So, are you guys up to travel with me around in South Africa a bit?
A few days ago, we went to lead a couple of services in Sabie, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
In the following posts I will share with you about some breathtaking accommodation and hiking trails in South Africa. Stay with me for some truly amazing nature experience as well as some fun with Elephants and monkeys.
The route is called the Panorama Route and leads along the Blyde River Canyon. To me, it is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa. It leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg. Here, in the northeastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld up to a thousand metres below. The views are most reliable in the dry winter months which is right now! At other times the spectacle is often impaired, since the escarpment is a barrier for the clouds coming from the east, rising at this point and bringing a lot of mist and rain.
In the area of the “Greater Panorama Route” between Lydenburg, Ohrigstad and Hazyview provide numerous scenic attractions and pretty historic towns like Pilgrim’s Rest and Sabie, which are well worth a visit.
On the Abel Erasmus Pass there is the opportunity to see one of the rarest birds in the world. The presence of the Taita Falcon in South Africa was discovered only in the 1990s. There is currently a nesting pair in the mountains opposite the curio sellers at the Strijdom Tunnel (look for the sign painted onto a rock simply advertising the ‘Place of Bird‘).
20 km from Ohrigstad we are taking a little detour on the Panorama Route to visit the Shoe house. A welcome break with our two little boys after a straight 5 hour drive. The Shoe house is one of many shoe-shaped houses in the world and was built in 1990 by entrepreneur and artist Ron Van Zyl. The Shoe is situated on the border of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Ron Van Zyl initially constructed it for his wife Yvonne who wanted a shoe, and so this landmark was built here. Now the Shoe is a Museum and a part of bigger project which includes a camp site and a chalet guest house, restaurant, bar, pool and curio shop. The interior of a museum is full of rock and wood carvings made by Ron Van Zyl himself. From the Shoe is the entrance to the man-made Alfa Omega Cave. Tourists that come to visit the Shoe and the Cave are guided through seven underground rooms in which a Spirit World is depicted. The 7th room is a small Chapel where weddings can be held.
We found it all a wee bit creepy, especially our little one started crying with the big wooden masks all around. Definitely a unique place to visit for a cup of coffee on the road.
The kids enjoyed the little playground behind the coffee shop. The restrooms are a 100m further in a small castle also build by the owners. I personally was amazed again how many South Africans feel it is necessary to complain about their overseas trips as soon as they find out one is from Europe. Apparently there is no meat available in Holland? My shy remark that I lived in Europe for about 28 years of my life and that currently food in Germany is still cheaper than in Pick n Pay here, was met with utter unbelief! So if you are not up to discussing how horrible your part of the world is, better do not mention you are from overseas. The coffee Latte and Hot dog filed the spot and of course our boys insisted on buying a little toy from their curio-come-china-toy shop.
The approach to religion through art is interesting, but it almost seemed like a little personal cult taking place on that farm. Worth a visit if you like something off the beaten track.
If you like, you can as always ask me to mail you a bigger resolution of the landscape photography for a small donation via paypal! They print very nice on canvas and make a unique Africa souvenir!