Only a few hundred kilometres to the east of Johannesburg the Drakensberg mountain range of the eastern Transvaal raises from the far Lesotho to the Province Limpopo in the north of South Africa.
The Blyde River Canyon is the most spectacular natural phenomenon of the Drakensberg and was declared a South African national monument. After the Grand Canyon in America and the Fish Eagle Canyon in Namibia it is the third largest canyon in the world.
Stretching across approximately 60 km the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve covers an area of 27.000 ha to protect the unique landscape with its flora and fauna. Wildlife in the canyon area is as varied as the vegetation.
There are mountain reedbuck and duiker on the escarpment, leopard, caracal and dassie are lovers of the canyon walls, while hippo and crocodile live in the Blyde Dam, and impala, kudu, blue wildebeest, waterbuck and zebra roam the Lowveld plain near the canyon's mouth. The combination of highly varied habitats has resulted in an impressive bird list of about 365 species.
The Blyde River Canyon itself is approx. 26 km long. The gigantic gorge is up to 800m deep and of magnificent beauty. Some lookout points along the canyon offer marvellous views over the surrounding scenery. However its real beauty can only be explored when one walks in the canyon. A three day hiking trail starts from Paradise Camp near God’s Window and ends at Bourke’s Luck Potholes. One can apply for a permit from the Mpumalanga Parks Board.