Spectacular views, tons of waterfalls, and another thing crossed off my bucket list.
09.04.2012 - 09.04.2012 25 °C
So many people who travel to South Africa only go to see Kruger National Park. They bypass the incredible Blyde River Canyon, not even knowing its there! It is the world's 3rd largest canyon, but the world's largest green canyon! So how do people not know its there? Well if you fly from Johannesburg to Kruger, you'll probably fly right over it, and if you drive, you don't see it unless you take the panorama route. I thoroughly research every country I travel to, so that I dont miss out on things like this!
If you're already headed to Kruger NP, the canyon isnt out of your way at all, so you may as well spend a day stopping at the many viewpoints, walking the trails, see the waterfalls, etc. You wont regret it, I promise
So let me start from the beginning. I flew from Livingstone, Zambia to Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon landing I had 4hrs to waste before the bus to Nelspruit departed. I had pre-booked a seat online for the CityBug bus. It was approximately $45, and took 3.5hrs to get there, with one stop along the way for a pee/snack break. The hwy was perfectly smooth, about 100 times better than Saskatchewan roads thats for sure! Upon arriving in Nelspruit it was late so I spent the night at Mecure Hotel for $43. Super nice, with tiled floors, fountains, room had kitchen, heat (cuz it was chilly at night), etc.
The following morning I took a taxi to my lodge near the town of Hazyview, the Hamilton Parks Country Lodge. The views along the way were stunning: green mountains, valleys, lakes, tall African pines, banana plantations, etc. It was a fantastic little lodge, located in the valley, away from the noise of the city.
My room at the lodge.
They even had some resident miniature ponies!
The lodge had a pool and a peaceful grassy area, but sitting around doing nothing is not my thing, so I opted to follow a trail I found and came across some old ruins and beautiful views of the valley!
The following day I went on a Panorama Tour of the canyon, booked through Bubezi Safaris. I was the only one on the tour, and at first was disappointed cuz I was hoping to meet some ppl. But within minutes realized being the only one meant we could stop wherever i wanted, and stay as long/short as I wanted. Quintin, my guide, was awesome! So easy to get along with, was also a photographer like myself so understood the patience required to get just the right shot, and gave me some helpful waterfall photography tips. The fact that he was cute and had the best accent ever had nothing to do with it, lol
Our first stop along the canyon was The Pinnacle.
There is also a waterfall at The Pinnacle if you follow the trail. It doesnt look like much in this photo, but trust me, I'm sitting on the edge of a cliff, and that river is plummeting to the ground right beside me!
Then we stopped at a lookout point called God's Window
One of the more touristy stops was the Bourke's Luck Potholes. I think we showed up the same time as a few tour buses. I was quite glad to be the only one on my tour, rather than a bus load of old ppl, lol! This is the view of the canyon area along the trail to the potholes.
Looking down at the potholes
One of the bigger waterfalls at the Potholes
Next up was my fave lookout point over the Three Rondavels ... rocky outcrops that resemble traditional African huts called rondavels.
A short walk from there was this incredible view!!!!!!!
We took a break and had lunch at a little restaurant. We had delicious toasties (known as paninis in Canada), and milkshakes. There was also souvenir shops set up at every viewpoint & waterfall.
Next up we walked the trail to Lone Creek Falls.
The mist from the falls was freezing cold!
We also visited Mac Mac Falls, but I didnt get a very good photo worth posting. The lookout platform is at a weird angle. I wouldnt bother visiting this one if your limited for time.
Next up was our last stop, the beautiful Horse Shoe falls.
Thats it for the beautiful Blyde River Canyon. My next 3 days were spent on safari in Kruger National Park, but that'll be in my next blog post.