While the main attraction of the Blyde River Canyon is centred around the area’s unique, quirky and panoramic views, experience-seekers will delight in the array of activities, helped along by the human imagination, to soak up the surroundings from a different perspective.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Why you should visit: Named after the rather unlucky Tom Bourke, Bourke’s Luck Potholes are a natural water feature created by thousands of years of water from the Treur River plunging into the Blyde River. A definite must see.
Here’s how to get there: The Potholes signal the “start” of the canyon coming from Graskop, located 35km north on the R532 road.
The Three Rondavels
Why you should visit: Named after the three rondavel-shaped mountains that emerge from the canyon, the viewpoint that takes in this breathtaking vista is a traveller highlight. The Three Rondavels lookout point is situated inside the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. Aim to get there during golden hour and snag a spot on one of the rocks – be warned though, it does get busy with tour groups.
Here’s how to get there: The viewpoint is on the R532, and marks the ‘end’ of the canyon when driving from Graskop.
How much does it cost: R30 per person.
Why you should visit: Justifiably earning its name as a result of its heavenly views of the Lowveld, God’s Window is a viewpoint showcasing the 900-metre drop to the lush ravine and endless horizon below.
Here’s how to get there: The viewpoint is on the R543, about 10km from Graskop.
How much does it cost: There is an R10 entrance fee to access the viewpoint.
Why you should visit: The Panorama Route shelters numerous waterfalls. Travelling between Graskop and the Blyde River Canyon, waterfall hunters can chase down the Lisbon Falls, Berlin Falls, Sabie Falls, Mac Mac Pools and more. Pack a swimsuit, hiking boots, and hit the trails.
Mac Mac Pools is a favourite swimming and picnic spot in the summer. Wander downstream from the travellers that congregate at the picnic spots and you’ll find a quieter pool. It’s R20 per person to access the Mac Mac pools.
How to get there: You’ll pass by numerous waterfalls along the Panorama Route. We recommend making a note of those you want to visit so you don’t miss them.
Why you should visit: This massive quartz rock towers 70m over the canopy of the indigenous forest below. There are two viewing platforms but you can also walk over the stream to the other side of the gorge to get a different perspective of Pinnacle Rock and Driekop Gorge. Go at sunrise or sunset to see the valley bathed in golden light.
How to get there: Pinnacle Rock is 5km from Graskop and 6km from God’s Window.
How much does it cost: Viewpoint entrance fee is R20 per person.
Blyde River Canyon Boat Cruise
Why you should visit: Instead of a bird’s eye view, opt for a different view – from the water. The hour-and-a-half boat tour will cruise to the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall and the Three Rondavels while the guides point out wildlife, marine and birdlife that thrive in this “Garden of Eden” (spot African fish eagles swooping overhead).
How to get there: Boat tours depart from the Blyde River Dam jetty.
How much does it cost: R250 per adult and R140 per child under 12.
Why you should visit: Perhaps the most spectacular way to take in the splendour of the Blyde River Canyon is by splurging on a helicopter tour. Tours depart from the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve and fly west towards the Drakensberg. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Three Rondavels and the Berlin and Lisbon Falls, before stopping for a private picnic at the Pinnacle Rock. After lunch, you’ll return to your “flying taxi” to take in God’s Window, Panorama Falls and Graskop, before coming back down to earth.
How much does it cost: Prices on request – enquire at Lion Sands.
How to get there: Lion Sands Private Game Reserve is situated on the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Bookings are essential.
Graskop Big Swing
Why you should visit: Graskop is a nine-minute drive from God’s Window viewpoint, a great reason to combine that stop with the Graskop Big Swing. This 70-metre cable gorge swing is one of the highest in the world. Feel the big rush of free-falling (seated in an upright positioned harness) 68m in only 2.3 seconds! If you’re not quite up to the Big Swing, try the 80-metre zip-line across the gorge instead, or take the Graskop Gorge Lift (essentially a glass elevator) 51m down the cliff face and walk the elevated walkways and suspension bridges through the forest.
How to get there: It’s situated on the R533 Graskop Gorge.
How much does it cost: The Big Swing costs R450 per person, the zip-line is R220 per person and Graskop Gorge Lift is R205 per adult.