Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa (after Fish River Canyon in Namibia) and one of the largest in the world. Located in the Mpumalanga region of South Africa, it was a short drive from our villages. We took our students here on their final excursion for the summer just a week before leaving South Africa. The canyon offers so many great activities, from hiking, kloofing, and whitewater rafting, to a scenic boat ride, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, our visit coincided with the local tourism board being on strike. People in South Africa strike more than they work I think. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but locals will tell you the same thing. Because of this event, many of the activities the students wanted to participate in were unavailable. Aside from spending what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend dealing with student drama, I still had plenty of time to do my own thing. I went hiking with my colleagues and went on the boat ride in the canyon. There are plenty of hikes in the area but we took one along the river… we thought it would be slightly more intense but it ended up being a leisurely stroll.
The boat ride was supposed to be off limits, since we had to enter the reserve in order to get to the boat, but we were told by the activities office that the tourism board gave us special permission to take the boat ride since we were such a large group. We climbed into trucks at the resort, and when we approached the gate, the driver jumped out- presumably to unlock it. Ehhh, wrong. He used lock cutters. After breaking and entering, we drove down to the dock, and hopped aboard the boat.
The tour, approximately 45 minutes, took us through an important part of the canyon: the Three Rondavels (three mountain tops that are slightly pointed). The scenic drive was closed off because of the strikes so I missed out on God’s Window.
I would have loved more time to hike and explore the area, but the canyon was at least a nice weekend getaway. If you’re visiting Kruger, it’s not a bad drive over to Blyde River Canyon. Assuming there isn’t a strike, you should look into doing the scenic drive and other activities that the area has to offer.