Worth a Trip: Touring Around Blyde River Canyon
Heading north from Graskop, look first for the Pinnacle, a striking skyscraper-like rock formation. Just to the north along Rte 534 (a loop off Rte 532) are God’s Window and Wonder View, both offering amazing vistas. At God’s Window, take the trail up to the rainforest (300 steps), where you might spot rare birds, including the elusive loerie, on the boardwalk to the viewpoint.
When you return to Rte 532, take a short detour 2km south to the impressive Lisbon Falls – or if you are coming back to Graskop, catch it on the way back. Continuing north, you'll pass the turnoff for the Berlin Falls, the less impressive of the two waterfalls.
The Blyde River Canyon starts north of here, near Bourke’s Luck Potholes. These bizarre cylindrical holes were carved into the rock by whirlpools at the confluence of the Blyde and Treuer Rivers. Bridges span the rivers, providing impressive views. There’s a small museum providing information on the canyon’s geology, flora and fauna, a busy cafe and an 80m-long lichen trail.
Continuing north into the heart of the nature reserve, you’ll reach the Lowveld Viewpoint. This offers stunning views up the canyon, to the glistening Blydepoort Dam at the far end surrounded by forested slopes. The rocky cones of the Three Rondavels formations are just visible, and you can see over the ridge to the hazy plains on the far side.
Next, the Three Rondavels Viewpoint is the area's highlight, with its staggering view of these enormous rounds of rock, their pointed, grassy tops resembling giant huts carved into the side of the canyon. There are short walks in the surrounding area to points where you can look down to the Blydepoort Dam at the reserve’s far north.
West of here, outside the reserve and just over the provincial line in Limpopo, are the Echo Caves. Stone Age relics have been found in these caves, which were discovered in 1923 and named after dripstone formations that echo when tapped. The one-hour guided tour leads you deep into the caverns on walkways and staircases (sensible shoes required) to a cool underground world of limestone stalactites and stalagmites, some named after figures such as the Madonna. The formations of the Crystal Palace chamber are a highlight.