Maybe not everyone knows that in South Africa there is the biggest green canyon in the world, the third for depth: the Blyde River Canyon, and this canyon is visible trought the panorama route.
Wonderfoul mountains, deep gorges, waterfalls, strange rock, you can see how many beauting can offer nature. During the tour you can stop in the numerous observation poits, walking in the nature and enjoy these indescribable landscapes.
The canyon is long 30 km, from the plateaus to the Blyde dam through the Drakensberg mountain. Many tourists from Johannesburg drive directly to the Kruger National Park via Nelspruit losing this paradise.
The first leg of our trip “South Africa and Mozambique – Three weeks in the road” was the Panorama Route.
Landed in Johannesburg, we rented a car directly at the airport, we had booked the car from Italy with pickup at Johannesburg’s airport and drop-off at Nelspruit. With this car we visited the Panorama Route and made a safari at the Kruger National Park.
La guida è a destra pertanto fate attenzione, all’inizio vi sembrerà impossibile poichè tutti i comandi sono invertiti: il cambio lo muoverete con la mano sinistra, le frecce, le luci, … tutto esattamente all’opposto. Dopo poco ci prenderete la mano, attenzione alle rotonde, quelle sono la parte piu’ difficile.
The guide is on the right so be careful, at first it will seem impossible because all the commands are reversed: the change will move with the left hand, the arrows, the lights, … all exactly the opposite. After a while you will take your hand, pay attention to the round ones, those are the most difficult part
Take the car and set the navigator we left. The airport is outside the city, so we fortunately avoided the traffic of a large metropolis.
Leaving Johannesburg, you continue on a very wide, straight road with little traffic. If you think that Africa is synonymous of desert, arid, … here you will change your mind, it seems to be in Canada, with coniferous forests
We continued to Graskop, about 4 hours of travel, where we stayed overnight. Calculate the times well, driving at night is not recommended either because of wild animals or because of people walking along unlit roads. Graskop is a small village at the entrance of the Blyde River Canyon, in Afrikaans means “grassy hill”, the village is located at 1400 meters above sea level, if you come here in July, get ready for a very cold climate: at night the temperature drops to zero degrees. In the evening there is not much life, some restaurant open and almost nobody on the street, apart from some tourists looking for a place for dinner.
We stayed at Sheri’s Lodge & Backpackers. This is a complex of round shaped bungalows, ours had four beds (a double bed and a bunk bed), a bathroom and a small kitchen. Inside you will find cloths, quilts, duvets that will serve you a lot in the cold African night. The room is equipped with heating, not exactly as we understand it: it is a metal plate attached to the wall that should heat up and heat the room, actually emits very little heat and can not heat the room … .. we have passed two nights under clothes. The location is great, close to the village and close to the attractions of the Blyde River Canyon.
For dinner we went to one of the few restaurants open advised by the Graskop’s police: the Canimambo Restaurant. Frequented by tourists, it offers both meat and fish, burgers, …… All good and average prices. All dishes are rich in garlic, even the french fries seem to be cooked in garlic. The bread is very good.
After a very cold night, we gave ourselves a breakfast at the very famous Harry’s pancake, the place is very big and with great attention to details, the pancakes are big and good, the price a bit high for South Africa.
Finally we left for the exploration of the Blyde River Canyon, we have dedicated the whole day, if you have time do it too, you will not regret.
It is located a few kilometers from Graskop, the entrance costs 15 R. It is a quartzite rock column, 30 meters high, it rises inside a green gorge. It seems built specifically, but it is a work of nature.
Continuing from The Pinnacle we arrived at “God’s Window“. The view is fantastic, I suggest you take a walk inside the Rain Forest, a path between plants, stones, bridges, … you will come to another panoramic point higher up than the previous one from which you can enjoy an incredible view , on clear days you can see up in Mozambique.
Here you will find many local shops selling souvenirs, I suggest you to buy somethings and remember to negotiate.
Admission is paid, the usual 15 R
This stage is just a few kilometers from God’s Window. It is a waterfall of 92 meters, we were in the dry season so the water flow was not very rich, but it was very beautiful anyway.
Here too you will find many sellers who will offer you their goods. Remember to bargain.
A few kilometers from Lisbon’s Fall, this waterfall is very spectacular.
Bourke's Luck Potholes
In my opinion it is one of the most ‘beautiful stages, if you have little time available do not miss it.
It takes its name from Tom Bourke, a gold digger who, convinced he could find it inside this canyon, spent all his possessions to find it without finding it.
This canyon has been excavated by the rivers Treuer and Blyde (which in the local language means “the river of pain” and “the river of joy”) that have “punched” the rock creating fascinating geological formations that change color depending on the light . Bridges have been built to allow a better view of the rock.
Here you will also find various restaurant and souvenir’s shops.
The Three Rondavels
Together with Bourke’s Luck Photoles, he competes for the prize for the most beautiful stage.
These are 3 rocks in the shape of an African hut from which they take their name. From here you can enjoy with a wonderful view of the canyon and the river.
It’s the last chance to shop, take advantage of it. We have not found any nice things along the way.
If you go from here to get to the Kruger, stop, you will not regret it. It will give you beautiful views that you will remember for a long time.