5 easy ways to explore the Blyde River Canyon
Guests of Ubuntu Luxury Villa have the world-famous Blyde River Canyon right on their doorstep! Exploring it should be high on the list of anyone visiting Hoedspruit.
Tourism brochures widely advertise the Blyde River Canyon as either one of the third largest or largest green canyons in the world. According to researchers, this isn’t quite true, but it is an absolutely amazing canyon none-the-less, with spectacular scenery, endemic plants and wildlife found only here.
In fact, there are at least 1250 plant species recorded and the area around the canyon is home to the Mariepskop dwarf chameleon and the Three Rondavels flat gecko, reptile species that don’t occur anywhere else in the world.
Much of this area’s plant diversity is due to a large range in altitude [572 to 1937 meters] between the top and bottom of the canyon, and high levels of variation in rainfall [541 to 2776 millimeters per year]. Since the 1930s, pine and eucalyptus plantations have been developed in the wider escarpment area and invaded on some of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve but various non profit organisations and government departments are working together to get rid of the invasive alien vegetation and enlarge the size of the area protecting the canyon. It’s a natural wonder that’s truly worth protecting, as we hope you’ll discover for yourself .
There are different ways to access the canyon. The views are spectacular where you are on a boat on the dam at its heart (one of the activities we highly recommend to guests of Ubuntu Luxury Villa), standing at one of its famous viewing points during a Panorama Tour, or flying high above it, like an eagle. They will stay with you forever and luckily, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to ways to explore.
Here are five easy ways to explore the Blyde River Canyon:
1. Book a tour with Selley Safaris. They are our carefully selected partner for transfers and tours and will take you on a full-day excursion along the Panorama Route, the scenic drive around the outer rim of the Blyde River Canyon. This is the easiest option and you won’t regret having the knowledge and experience of a guide to enrich your day. Highlights along the way, from the direction of Hoedspruit, are the Pinnacle Rock, God’s Window, Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondawels. You can also drive through route yourself.
2. Self drive the Panorama Route. If you prefer to do your own driving, then make use of the map in Ubuntu Luxury Villa to explore the route. You can venture as far as Bourke’s Luck Potholes where the Blyde river is joined by the Treur river in a labyrinth of swirling eddies, gaze down into the spectacular valley from the Three Rondavels lookout point along the Panorama Route or enjoy the Lowveld section of the river, close to the Swadini resort. Do stop at our favourite restaurant; the quirky, authentic Boskombuis. It serves delicious, traditionally South Africa food, cooked and served in the open air.
3. Take a hike. There are currently several sign posted trails into and around the Blyde River Canyon that vary from the shortest at 1.5 kilometres, to the longest at 16 kilometres. The short trail is an easy walk round the base of the Blyderiverspoort dam, while the longest, the Hippo Trail, starts at the bridge over the Blyde near the Swadini resort, goes all around the shores of the Blyderivierpoort Dam and the bottom of one of the famous Three Rondavels, into the middle of the canyon. Contact the Hoedspruit Hiking Club for up to date information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Do the Swadini boat trip. This one and a half hour trip is excellent value for money and takes you into the heart of the Canyon. You can usually choose from three departure times and the boat leaves from near the Swadini resort, where you can park your car if you’re doing a self-drive excursion. You’ll drift slowly around the dam’s fascinating shoreline, overhung with wild figs, rubber euphorbia, milkwoods and Outeniqua yellowwoods. You may see hippos, kudus, crocodiles and more game, but it’s the landscape that will take your breath away! Book here or via our tour and transfer partner.
5. Take to the skies: While height restrictions mean you cannot enter the canyon, a helicopter flip is as close as you’ll get to an eagle’s eye-view of the landscape. You can also take in the views from the open cockpit of a conventional controlled microlight aeroplane. There is no experience like it and no two flights are the same as you climb to 6500 feet over the Blyde River Canyon, cruise past cliffs covered in aloes, glide along the Three Rondavels and watch the mountains change colour before your eyes. Visit: www.hoedspruithelicoptors.co.za and www.lefssa.com for more information.