The journey from Joburg to Mpumulanga’s Panorama Route is a visual feast, particularly as the road dips down from the Highveld to the Lowveld, tracing the northern Drakensberg escarpment. Thanks to all the padstals along the way, you can linger longer and feed your tummy too.
1. Joubert & Seuns Padstal
This is a well-known citrus producer for the international market, while also specialising in earthmoving, and bespoke wooden tables. If you aren’t keen on strapping a table to your roof, you can stock up on snacks like fresh or dried fruit, juice, nuts, biltong or their own orange peri-peri sauce.
- Find out more: Joubert & Seuns Padstal
2. Orchid Farm Stall
This roadside shop pops up on your right, 18km before Mbombela. As the name indicates, the farm stall’s biggest drawcard is orchids, but it offers so much more.
You can order a cappuccino and lunch in the outdoor coffee shop, or you can stock up on a year’s supply of birthday gifts in the beautifully curated shop filled with local artists’ paintings, decor, clothing, jewellery, handmade cosmetics, and ceramic pots, bowls and tiles.
The family farms macadamias, honey and plants such as orchids, cycads, succulents, bromeliads and tree ferns.
- Pottery or watercolour classes are hosted at the farm stall.
- Find out more: Orchid Farm Stall
3. Route 40 Farm Stall & Coffee Cafe
On the R40 outside White River, Istell and Paul Carlin are ready to cook up a storm for guests heading to the Kruger Park, with Numbi gate a mere 32km away.
As the Lowveld regional head of La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs (the international association of French gastronomy), travellers are in capable hands with Istell behind the stove.
Istell bakes pastries, scones, cakes and brownies, while making peri-peri sauces, pestos, jams and preserves. They also stock local goodies such as honey, macadamia products, dried fruit, free-range chicken and eggs.
The cafe doesn’t have a set menu; Istell offers two to three dishes, such as an open croissant with scrambled egg and bacon, with tomato and basil pesto relish, or eggs Benedict with bacon and homemade hollandaise.
- Find out more: 083 260 8955
4. Pure Plaas Padstal & Aloe Nursery
The 140km section between White River and Pure Plaas offers countless possibilities for pitstops and picnic spots. If you’re not behind the wheel, you can take a beer break at Sabie Brewing Co or visit one of the waterfalls and swimming spots scattered between Sabie and Graskop.
Pushing on after Pilgrim’s Rest, the old mining town and living monument, you climb up Robber’s Pass, named after two coach robberies in 1899 and 1912. Just 24km further, Pure Plaas Padstal lies on the left of the R36.
Amanda and Dennis Brits have more than 3 000 aloes in their garden. They also sell jams, preserves, vintage tins and grass baskets; from Fridays to Sundays they make vetkoek and pancakes.
Bring some cash as the card machine sometimes loses signal in the Ohrigstad River Valley but Amanda and Dennis also trust their customers to do an EFT 13km down the road.
- Find out more: 073 261 4793, Facebook: Pure Plaas Padstal en Aalwyn Kweker
5. The Chubby Pig
Past the farming town of Ohrigstad, a photo opportunity awaits at a stall shaped like a giant shoe. Ron van Zyl built this place for his wife, Yvonne, in 1991.
A further 2km along and the R532 turns off towards the Three Rondavels, a viewpoint over three round mountain tops, the Blyderivierspoort Dam and Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon and biggest green canyon in the world.
The Chubby Pig eatery, gift shop, nursery and accommodation lies closer to Graskop on the banks of the Treur River, which means “to mourn”. It was named during a Voortrekker expedition in 1844, when distraught relatives thought Hendrik Potgieter and his party were lost on their journey to Delagoa Bay, today known as Maputo Bay.
They arm peaches, apricots, apples, figs and pigs. The eatery is a meat lover’s dream, and Melody makes jams, chutneys and hot sauces from their produce. In the gift shop she sells her own range of soaps, bath salts, sugar scrubs, CBD creams, leather bags, shoes and clothing under her brand, Melo.
- Find out more: The Chubby Pig
Written by Mia Louw for Getaway.
Feature Image: Getty