Blyde river canyon

The Three Rondavels

The best expert when it comes to aesthetic matters is Mother Nature herself. One can become convinced of this when visiting Blyde River Canyon, one of the greenest corners of the Earth. It's located in the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment near a picturesque route to the north of Johannesburg, in the province of Mpumalanga in the Republic of South Africa.

About 25 km long and with an average depth of 750 m, it's the world's third-largest canyon after the Grand Canyon in Colorado and Fish River Canyon. The highest peak of this range reaches 1944 metres above sea level, and the lowest is about 560 metres above sea level. It's best to begin the trip from the spot where the River Blyde (the name of which can be translated as the "River of Joy”) joins the River Treur, which, in turn, means "River of Sadness". The history of these names reaches back to the year 1844, when a group of travellers didn’t return to their camp on the River Treur and were considered to be missing, but were later found safe and sound by the River Blyde.

The Three Rondavels is a group of huge, round rocks resembling the traditional houses of the local inhabitants. Their historical name, "the chief and his three wives", makes 1 reference to a legend about a heroic chief, Maripi Mashile, who defeated tribes from neighbouring provinces in battles in this canyon. Since then, the aboriginals have seen in the three identical mountains the chiefs harem following him step by step.

But the main calling card of this place is undoubtedly God’s Window - one of the most famous viewpoints in Africa.In good weather, there is a view of endless forests and mountains, right up to the famous Kruger National Park where the Lebombo Mountains border on Mozambique. It was the view from God’s Window which led the bushman Xi - the main character in the cult Hollywood film The Gods Must Be Crazy - to the conviction that this is the spot where the world ends. Numerous comfortable terraces have been created here for enthusiasts of panoramic views, where one can take spectacular photos. Those seeking extreme experiences with a dash of adrenaline can admire the beauty of Blyde River while flying in a motodeltoplane.

Over 1000 plant species grow on the canyon’s slopes, including orchids and ferns. One can find numerous species of birds, monkeys and very rare kudu antelopes in the local forests. There are also crocodiles, leopards and other predators - so it’s a good idea to take a trip accompanied by a well-trained guide.

Tags: South Africa, Johannesburg