Graskop is a small town in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. It is 14 km south-east of Pilgrim’s Rest and 28 km north of Sabie. Graskop was laid out between 1880 and 1890 on a farm belonging to Abel Erasmus, Native Commissioner of the Transvaal Republic. Originally it was a mining camp. Graskop now serves as a tourist destination and the timber industry. The name is Afrikaans for grassy hillock. “God’s Window”, a scenic view from the escarpment of the Lowveld below, is located outside the town. It is the best place to view the “Edge of the Lowveld”, with a sudden drop of 700 metres.
The mist belt which stretches along the escarpment is caused by warm moisture laden air rising up from the Lowveld and cooling at these high elevations. This results in misty cloudy conditions and a relative high rainfall. Some areas receive up to 4,000mm of rain per year. As one moves further west (away from the escarpment edge) the rainfall and mist diminishes. Atop the plateau the summers are temperate. The winters are pleasant with mild frost in places and occasional snow on the higher mountains around Graskop
The town of Graskop is perched on a spur of the Mauchsberg at an altitude of 1,493 meters. The town dates way back to 1837, when Andries Potgieter passed through with the Great Trek of the Voortrekkers in search of greener pastures in the north. In his memoirs he mentions leaving the woman folk in the area known as Graskop (“grassy peak“). He then went down the escarpment in search of an ox wagon route to Delagoa Bay (now Maputo in Mozambique). In the 1850’s the Graskop area was a farm owned by Abel Erasmus He was an adventurous character in hunting, prospecting and imposing law and order in the area. He was known among the local tribes as Dabula Duzi (“He who shoots at close range.“).
Jock of the Bushveld
Graskop is also famous for Jock of the Bushveld which dates back to between 1885 and 1887. Paradise Camp is where Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld, established his camp. Two chapters in his book, namely “Paradise Camp and the Leopard” and “The Baboons” are set in this area. A railway link from Nelspruit through the farm Sabie and onto the farm Graskop was begun in early 1910. Established mainly to transport supplies to the booming gold-mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest. The railway line was completed and ready for the opening ceremony on 18th June 1914. Graskop was declared a town later the same year
The natural wonders around Graskop are probably the most seen, most photographed, most painted and most cherished scenes in Southern Africa. There is a good reason for this …….. Not only are these natural scenes breath-taking, the sites are all within easy reach along a good network of tarred roads.