Blyde River Canyon is the third largest in the world and second deepest in Africa. Known as the “River of Joy”, its towering cliffs rise nearly 800 meters above the winding valley, providing backpackers and day hikers with epic views of the Drakensberg Mountain Range and the lush natural forests that make a trek through Blyde breathtakingly scenic.
Lucky visitors to the canyon may spot a pair of Taita Flacons—one of the most rare bird species in the world—near the Abel Erasmus Pass. Travelers can also get up close to some of South Africa’s other natural rarities too, like Three Rondavels viewpoint, where massive rocks spiral out of canyon walls. Hundreds of years of flowing waters have created Bourke’s Luck Potholes, natural rock sculptures that are recognized as one of the country’s most memorable geological formations.
A helpful information center is located near the mouth of the canyon, where man-made dams have crated placid pools perfect for swimming. Visitors can venture towards Blydesrivierpoort (near Swandini) and travel by boat across the dam to the scenic Tufa Waterfalls. Miles of well-marked trails make Blyde River Canyon a true hiker’s destination, but a wealth of canoeing, rock climbing and abseiling excursions mean there’s also plenty to occupy adventurers.
Blyde River Canyon is part of the Panorama route, and is accessible from the western end of Kruger National Park. Travel is at its pique between June and August, but a visit to Blyde River Canyon is beautiful any time of year.