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I grew up in Nelspruit.  Living in Nelspruit is probably like living in Cape Town – every holiday, family would come visit us.  My parents would entertain them and take them on day trips to the Kruger and all the places the family liked.  My personal favourite was Pilgrim’s Rest.

The old candy shop with the crystalized coloured sugar was my favourite!!  Can you remember?  White Sherbet that makes your fingers red, black balls (renamed in the 1980’s due to its offensive previous name).  Do you remember those little dolls and stuffed animals they sold?  It was an awesome town to visit!

I remember the excitement before a trip to Pilgrim’s Rest!!  We would pack the picnic baskets and swimming suits for our picnic at the Pilgrims Rest Caravan Park.   I start shaking when I think about those years, IT..WAS..AWWWWWWWESOME!

I have a route for you that’s probably going to make your eyes twinkle like a kid getting ‘black balls’ in a plastic bag at Pilgrim’s Rest!  This route is sweet and full of colour, just like your bag of ‘black balls’.

Start your trip – fill your fuel tank and get cash.  Take any route to Sabie , the beautiful 2012 Town of the year.  Don’t forget to stop at Bridal Veil Falls and Lone Creek Falls!

From Sabie, ride towards Graskop on the R532.  Pass Mac Mac Forest Retreat (on your left).  Feel free to visit the Maria Shires Waterfall at 24º 58.660’S 30º 49.353’E.  Go slowly, because your turn off would be 2.3 km from the Falls.

Turn left at 24°58’11.4″S 30°48’18.4″E onto the gravel road.   According to an artible that was published in the Go Magazine in 2010, you need permission to use this road.  According to the write up, you can get consent to use this road at the following Tel numbers:   013 764 2376 of 013 764 1018.

VERY IMPORTANT..  Life begins where the tar road ends!

Keep an eye out for trucks and forestry vehicles.  Continue straight until you reach 24°57’56.5″S 30°47’34.9″E. These caves have been a place of safety for many many years!  Recently my very clever friend, Marius Bakkes, told me..  At this rocky refuge, Percy Fitzpatrick, as a young man,  found shelter in those cold and rainy nights.  This pass is called the Burgers Pass.   When you pass those massive trees and mountains, remember that not so long ago, our fathers travelled these areas with ox wagons and with horses.

Continue straight on this road, until you reach the Mount Sheba Conservancy board, keep right.  This is not that type of open-throttle-power-wheelie-drift-routes.   No, this is that type of look-at-that-tree kind of routes!  In this area, you find out how small you really are – and how beautiful everything around you is!  You realise that life is bigger than an office, or a workshop.  The rocks, the trees, the mountains..  You, my friend, were born to be a pioneer!

At one stage, you will cross a small bridge and continue through a lane of old  trees.  This is a magical place.   These trees significantly look like the maple tree, they could even be maple trees.  The maple tree is a special tree.  It signifies strength and endurance.  These trees resemble exactly that within you!  Spend some time there, take it in..  Strength and endurance!

Your next intersection is at the old school.  Turn right towards Pilgrims Rest.  Coordinates of this position are 24°56’44.7″S 30°44’43.9″E.  According to Google Maps, from here to Pilgrims Rest is 9.2km and a 18 minute ride.  Enjoy the ride and enjoy the rich and ‘golden’ history of Pilgrims Rest.

Check out this webpage to see what is to see in Pilgrims.  One of the coolest towns in history!

http://www.pilgrims-rest.co.za/townmap.htm

Continue out of Pilgrims Rest, towards an area called Vaalhoek.  Exit Pilrims towards the left!

VAALHOEK AREA

Vaalhoek used to be a farm that belonged to the well-known Barloworld.  Enjoy this beautiful gravel road that passes the old fish farm, and much more!  This road is filled with old ruins of old farm houses that date back to the days of ox wagons and gun powder.

Notice the old powerlines along the way.  These lines lead to the Hydro Power plant, Belvedere.  It was completed in 1911 and supplied electricity to Pilgrims Rest.  Pilgrims was one of the first towns in the world to have electric street lights!

This road will join onto the R532, where the Potholes would be towards the left, and Graskop towards your right.   Towards the right, is where you want to have breakfast every day of the week!  Potluck Boskombuis.  This has a short dirt road towards a magnificent view.  The restaurant is based on the Treur river.

After lunch, continue towards Graskop.  You will pass the Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, turn back to God’s Window and see Pinnacle Rock, the Rainforest and Wonderview.

Don’t miss the Flycatcher Castle on the right, just before Graskop.

The small town of Graskop offers a lot to do!  Curios shops, awesome restaurants, and off course, THE BIG SWING in Mogodi Gorge!