The Blyderiver Canyon
is the third largest canyon system in the world.
Blyderiver Canyon Nature Reserve
Situated along the Mpumalanga Drakensberg Escarpment, the
reserve covers a area of 22 664 hectares extending from the
Pinnacle and Gods Window in the south to beyond the mighty
Marieps Kop in the north, where the Blyde River Canyon ends
at Swadini. The reserve is administered by the Mpumalanga
Parks board and is known primarily for the outstanding
natural beauty of the canyon as well as the numerous endemic
and endangered fauna and flora species present.
This 30m high quartzite needle rises dramatically out of the
fern clad ravine, created by the Ngwaritsane River, over
countless millennia. To the right, and below, the viewing
plateau from which can be seen only the topmost of eight
waterfalls which take the river down approximately 450m in a
series of alternating falls and cascades.
This attraction is approximately 10km outside the town
waterfall is located just north of Sabie.
The Forest Falls
These beautiful falls
are located on the western edge of Graskop.
Bourke's Luck Potholes
This natural feature marks
the beginning of the Blyderiver Canyon. Through countless
aeons the swirling whirlpools which occur as the Treur River
falls into the Blyde River caused waterborne sand and rock
to grind cylindrical potholes into the bedrock of the river.
The informative Visitors Centre details some of the
interesting natural and socio-historic features and is the
starting point of the 700m walk to the potholes.
God's Window gives visitors
some of the finest panoramas of the Lowveld. It is situated
at an altitude of 1 730 metres. The annual precipitation of
around 3 000 millimetres results in lush, damp forest
festooned in Old Mans Beard. Viewsites overlook precipitous
wooded slopes over a distance of 4 kilometres, whilst the
landscape drops a dramatic 900 metres before fading into the
distant haze of the Lowveld.
Five of the 71 different veld types of South Africa, occur
on the reserve, these include mixed bushveld, north eastern
mountain sourveld, Lowveld sour bushveld, and Lowveld mixed
bushveld. The reserve represents a transitional zone for the
flora of these five regions including flora which migrate
along the escarpment from as far south as the Cape, plants
from Natal, tropical plants from the Lowveld and plants from
the central bushveld which follow the routes of the
Ohrigstad and Olifants River valley into the Canyon. The
rich and varied plant life is influenced by extremes
climate, altitude and soil conditions. Plant communities
range from montane sour grassland on the high summits and
plateaus, subtropical rainforest in the upper reaches of
deep ravines at the escarpment edge, through montane forest,
dry bushveld, protea veld dense brushwood and scrub in
dongas and dry ravines, to riparian forest on the banks of
perennial rivers and streams and arid mixed sour bushveld at
Swadini in the Canyon mouth.
The rich patchwork of diverse plant communities support an
equally rich and varied fauna. The montane grassland area
provides suitable habitat for Grey Rhebuck , the rare Oribi,
a variety of seed eating birds, rodents, reptiles and a
abundance of insects. Klipspringers and Dassies find food
and shelter in rocky areas, while Mountain Reedbuck and Kudu
select wooden bushveld where patches of dense cover also
shelters to Common Duiker. Bushbuck and bushpig move amongst
the luxuriant growth on the banks of the rivers and streams,
with the duiker also occurring sometimes. A variety of
aquatic animals including waterbirds, fish, otters, hippo
and crocodile live in and around the dam, rivers, mountain
streams and marshlands Birds of grassland, woodland, forest
and scrub occur, with all three South African Loerie species
present. All five of South African primates are found in the
reserve, including the rare Samango Monkey which live in the
lush evergreen forest. The greater and lesser bushbabies are
nocturnal, while Vervet Monkeys and Chacma Baboons are often
seen. An interesting variety of small mammals include the
yellow footed squirrel, honey badger, aardvark, aardwolf,
porcupine and mongoose of different kinds. The Leopard is
the largest predator. Other carnivores include the Spotted
Genet, Civet Cat, Serval and Caracal.
This attraction stretches from Graskop to just south of
Hoedspruit, a town in the Limpopo Province - a distance of
more than 80km.