The spectacular Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon with its subtropical climate high rainfall and lush foliage makes the Blyde River Canyon the largest “Green” canyon in the world

The Blyde River Canyon

The Blyde River Canyon is the third deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon (USA) and the Fish River Canyon (Namibia) and both these are desert Canyons.

The Blyde River Canyon has some of the highest and precipitous cliffs of any canyon on earth and is 26km long starting at the Bourkes Luck Potholes and the Ohrigstad River Canyon which is 16km meets the Blyde River Canyon at the Swadini Dam.The Blyde River Canyon reaches its deepest level of 1478m where it exits the Nature Reserve, Mariepskop is 1994m and the river level is 516m. The average depth 750m – same as a 250 storey building. At 1994m above sea level Mariepskop is the highest point in the reserve.

The canyon consist of several quartzite layers resulting in spectacular coloring and scenery and is a result of millions of years erosion by the Blyde River along a weak point in the geological layers.

When Voortrekker leader Hendrik Potgieter led an exploratory party to Lourenco Marques (Mozambique) in the winter or 1840 the womenfolk where left on the Malaria free summit of the Drakensberg Escarpment near Graskop. They waited there far beyond the time the men were due to return, then, thinking they must have died names the stream on whose banks they were camped the Treur (sorrow or sad), and set off for home. On the way they were over taken by Potgieter and his party. The reunion took place just as the women were about to ford a river which was promptly called the Blyde (joy or happy). The two rivers meet perpendicularly at the Bourkes Luck Potholes which is the starting point of the Blyde River Canyon.

In the canyon there is a Tufa waterfall and at 200 metres (660 ft), the Kadishi Tufa waterfall is the second tallest tufa waterfall on earth. A tufa waterfall is formed when water running over dolomite rock absorbs calcium, and deposits rock formations more rapidly than they erode the surrounding rock. In the case of the Kadishi Tufa fall, the formation that has been produced strikingly resembles a face which is crying profusely, and is thus sometimes known as 'the weeping face of nature'

The Three Rondavels are three round, grass-covered mountain tops with somewhat pointed peaks. They resemble the traditional round or oval rondavels or African homesteads quite closely, which are made with local materials. The names of the peaks commemorate a 19th century chief, Maripi, and three of his wives. The flat-topped peak adjacent to the rondavels is Mapjaneng, "the chief", who is remembered for opposing invading Swazis in a memorable battle. The three rondavels are named for three of his more troublesome wives – Magabolle, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto. Behind the rondavels the distant high plateau of Mariepskop may be visible. Beside the dam, the isolated Thabaneng hill is known as the "sundial" or "mountain with a shadow that moves". It is said that the position of its shadow indicates the time of day.

Bio Diversity

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is one of the few areas of montane grassland in Mpumalanga that still exists. The grasslands consist of more than 1 000 flora species of which many are endemic (found nowhere else in the world), rare or endangered. Another extraordinary inhabitant is the Taita Falcon which is only found in a few places in the world. Visitors can see a variety of wildlife such as the Klipspringer, Grey Rhebuck, Oribi, Kudu and primates.

Please contact us to plan your dream safari to South Africa and visit the Blyde River Canyon on the way to the Kruger Park