The Blyde River Canyon Reserve stretches along the canyon’s twisting trail, which offers increasingly stunning views of steep cliff faces that plunge 800 metres into the riverbed at each turn. One of the biggest valleys on Earth, the Blyde River Canyon (formally known as the Motlatse Canyon since it has a particularly luxuriant subtropical covering), is also thought to be the biggest “green canyon.”
The area is known as the “Panorama Route” because of the beautiful mountain scenery and expansive vistas of the Klein Drakensberg escarpment. God’s Window and Wonder View give some indication of the size of the surroundings. Viewpoints are called for the spectacle they offer.
The “Three Rondavels” (also known as “Three Sisters”) are three enormous spirals of dolomite rock rising out of the far wall of the Blyde River canyon, while the “Pinnacle” is a solitary quartzite column rising out of the deep wooded gorge. Their sides are covered in a bright orange lichen, and their domed heads are coated in green. The expansive Swadini Dam, which signifies the conclusion of the reserve, may be seen from the “Three Rondavels” in the distance.
Water erosion has produced one of South Africa’s most amazing geological phenomena at the confluence of the Blyde River (the river of joy) and the Treur River (the river of sadness). The unusual cylindrical sculptures created by swirling water at the “Bourke’s Luck Potholes” have taken thousands of years to construct. The dark ponds contrast with the polished red and yellow boulders.
Numerous waterfalls that are stunning to view and many of which you can visit are produced by the geology and climate of this high rainfall region. Others are tucked away deep amid some of the world’s biggest plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees that were created by humans.
Extreme weather, a range of altitudes, and different soil types all have an impact on the rich and diverse plant life. An similarly diverse and rich fauna is supported by this variety of plant life. In rocky locations, klipspringer and dassies find food and cover. In addition to the uncommon oribi and grey rhebuck, the grassland is home to numerous insects, rodents, reptiles, seed-eating birds, and rodents. Bushbuck and bushpig roam among the luxuriant foliage on the riverbanks, while kudu prefer the cover of woody bushveld.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is home to all five of South Africa’s primates. Vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, nighttime greater and lesser bushbabies, and the somango monkey are also present.
The rivers and marshes of Swadini Dam are home to hippopotamus, crocodiles, waterbirds, and otters. The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve contains all three South African species of Loerie and almost every other sort of habitat that attracts birds.
See the Blyde River Canyon Map for a detailed map showing the locations of attractions and landmarks in and around the canyon. See Things to Do in Blyde River Canyon for information on local activities.
Where is Blyde River Canyon
South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province is home to the Blyde River Canyon Reserve (Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve). It is located close to Graskop, 70 kilometres west of the Kruger National Park.
The Drakensberg escarpment, which is the highest in the nation and averages a depth of 762 metres, is located to the north.
The Blyde River Canyon Entrance Fees
The Blyde River Canyon entrance fee is R35 for adults and R20 for children and pensioners. This includes entry to the canyon viewpoint and The Three Rondavels. ( correct at time of posting).
Visiting Blyde River Canyon From Johannesburg
Flying into OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg and then connecting to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP) in Nelspruit is the quickest and most expensive method to travel from Johannesburg to Blyde River Canyon. You’ll need to pick up a rental car at the airport and drive to the Blyde River Canyon. About 153 kilometres separate the Nelspruit Airport from the Blyde River Canyon (3 to 3.5 hours depending on traffic).
A different option is to travel by car from Johannesburg to Blyde River Canyon. Depending on the amount of traffic, this takes 6-7 hours.
Things To Do In Blyde River Canyon
See God’s Window
The beginning of the Blyde Canyon panorama can be seen from the viewpoint known as God’s window. the expansive view of the Lowveld extending more than 900 metres into the valley covered in a dense indigenous forest.
You can see as far as Mozambique and the Kruger National Park if you go on a clear day. The Three Sisters, often referred to as the Three Rondawels, can be seen if you look east. The highest vantage point in the area, Wonder View, is only two kilometres to the north.
Visit Pilgrims Rest
The 1870s gold rush centred on this hamlet. As you ascend the steep slope to the hamlet, you’ll pass several of the ancient structures, including the Royal Hotel, the local shop, and the newspaper office (where the Irish editor kept a pair of loaded handguns on his desk).
Pilgrim’s Rest is a living museum preserved in the precise architectural style of the gold rush era, with a number of buildings that have had their exteriors unaltered for more than a century. Mining continued there until 1972.
See the Bourke’s Luck Potholes
The swirling of sand and pebbles that created the potholes millions of years ago carved the potholes into the underlying riverbed.
It bears Tom Bourke’s name, who made an alluvial gold discovery nearby in the late 1880s. Bourke’s Luck was actually a serendipitous find in this gold-rich region and had nothing to do with the potholes.
Use The Graskop Lift
The observation lift descends 51 metres into the forest below, where 600 metres of wooden walkways and suspension bridges meander through an indigenous forest with interactive exhibits.
One of the best Blyde River Canyon attractions is the Graskop Lift, which is also accessible to wheelchair users.
Hippo Trail Blyde River Canyon
An 18-kilometer hike is the Hippo Trail Blyde River Canyon. The Blyde River Canyon Forever Resort sells permits (Monday through Saturday).
Blyde River Boat Cruise
From a boat on the Blyde River, view the spectacular Blyde River Canyon. In order to learn more about the fascinating and endangered reptiles found in South Africa, you will also visit the Kinyonga Reptile Park.
Go on Safari
South Africa is a paradise for wildlife! You may visit the Kruger National Park or one of the numerous nearby game reserves with ease in this area.
Phabeni Gate, located approximately 55 kilometres from Graskop, is the closest Kruger entry gate, making trips to Kruger popular day trips from Graskop.
The Three Rondawels
Due to the rocky outcrops’ points’ resemblance to rondavels, they are referred to as the “three rondavels.”
The Chief and his Three Wives is another name for The Three Rondavels. The three wives are identified as Maseroto, Mogoladikwe, and Magabolle, while the flat-topped mountain to the right is known as Mapjaneng, or the “Chief.”
The 1944 m high Mareiepskop peak, which serves as the southern portal of the canyon mouth, towers in solitary and colossal majesty behind them. The Swandini Buttress, which creates the northern doorway of the canyon mouth, is to the north of Magabolle and has a majestic, almost haughty, projecting face.
Visiting Pinnacle Rock is among the top things to do in the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. While looking down the valley for miles, this quartzite “needle” rises dramatically from a ravine at a height of 30 metres. While there are less people, the vistas are just as good as those at God’s Window.
Adult admission is R20; children and pensioners are charged R15.
Visit the waterfalls
The province of Mpumalanga is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and waterfalls.
to the appropriately called Horseshoe Falls, which are in the shape of a horseshoe, from the 68-meter-high Lone Creek Falls. Another amazing waterfall to explore in this area is the Bridal Veil Falls, which resembles a bridal veil. 6 kilometres from Sabie town. The 70-meter-high waterfall is reached after a strenuous 750-meter hike through a native forest. This region also includes Mac Mac Pools and Sabie Falls.