The first modern records relating to the town of Graskop date back to 1843, with the arrival of the Voortrekkers in the area. They were searching for a route to the coast, to what is known today as Maputo in Mozambique. In the 1850s, the farm Graskop (so named because of the vast tracts of grassveld and absence of trees in the area) was owned by one Abel Erasmus, who leaves his name on a pass over the Escarpment.
In the 1850s an eastern Transvaal character (known to the Africans as Dubula Duzť- he who shoots at close range) owned this "grassy hill". From here he exercised rough justice as the native commissioner of the lowveld. Later the little town of Graskop was established on this farm.
Today Graskop is the terminus of the branch railway from Nelspruit and a centre of a substantial timber industry. From Graskop the scenic Panorama Route leads northwards along the edge of the escarpment to the Blyde River Canyon.
Godís Window is 10km from Graskop. The region nestles on the top of the Drakensberg Escarpment, offering you spectacular scenery and breathtaking views. At God's Window the majestic cliffs plunge over 700 metres to the Lowveld and the game reserves which have made the area one of Africa's prime wildlife destinations. From this Escarpment- a 250km long rampart of sheer cliffs- it indeed seems as if one can see forever!
Gold was discovered in the region in the 1870s, although finds were not as dramatic or lucrative in Graskop as elsewhere locally. Prospectors abounded, and it was only as recently as 1996 that the last of the colourful full-time prospecting 'characters' decided to hang up his pan. However, the activity remains an enjoyable tourist pursuit in the area.
A railway spur from Nelspruit running through the farm of Sabie and onto Graskop was begun in early 1910. This railway line was completed and ready for the opening ceremony on the 18th of June, 1914. Graskop was declared a town later the same year.
Courtesy of Jacana Media
The town grew gradually over the twentieth century, developing a specialisation in forestry after the recession of the 1950s. It has always attracted a constant flow of tourists. In the early days and despite the gravel roads, many of which became virtually impassable during the rainy season, the unspoilt splendour of the region has been a consistent drawcard. In the middle of the century, the Bourkes Luck Potholes- already a prominent attraction- was spanned by swing bridges- and a trip to the Three Rondavels was an overnight affair.
Today Graskop has fifteen accommodation choices, ten restaurants and a huge variety of curios shops. Our selection of hotels is here. These combine with the centrality of the town in the region to make Graskop the "Gateway" to the Panorama Route.