Blyde River Canyon – A place of mystical beauty

We recently visited the Blyde River Canyon for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the landscape and the many photographic opportunities it had to offer.
The Blyde River Canyon with the “Three Rondavels” visible top right


The Blyde River Canyon is located in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in the province of Mpumalanga in South Africa. It is forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment and is about 26 kilometers in length and is on average about 762 meters deep. The Blyderivierpoort Dam lies at an altitude of about 665 meters when full. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1944 meters above sea level, whilst its lowest point is less than 561 meters above sea level. The aforesaid entails that the canyon is about 1372 meters deep at places!
Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and the second largest canyon in Africa (after the Fish River Canyon). One of the best viewpoints is of the “Three Rondavels”, which are huge, round rocks, thought to be reminiscent of the huts (or rondavels) of the indigenous people.
We stayed at the Blyde River Forever Resort for the four days, which gave as easy access to some great view points and various hiking trails down the canyon.

With our arrival on the Friday, we were greeted by grey skies and a huge hail storm – All I could do was  to enjoy the company of my wife and eight month old son in our chalet and to wait for the storm to subside. It eventually did and I took my chances to go to the upper view point of the resort.
As I reached the upper view point, I could see I rainbow reaching down to almost the very bottom of the canyon, but trees and rocks obscured my view! I almost broke my neck as I was rushing through the bush and climbing over rocks and cliffs, but I was too late… I did at least get a tiny bit of the rainbow…
Blyde Promise
Rocky Canyon
The next morning presented nothing but grey skies, so I decided to explore some of the shorter hiking trails down in the canyon. I was presented by a surprise that I did not expect – a lush green forest and plenty of small streams and waterfalls at the dying moments of winter!




The highlight of the forest was when I came across the epic waterfall shown below. I decided to investigate, but there was no proper shooting angle through the trees – I saw a small island at the waterfall’s feet and realized that it might be my only chance, as the island will be a distant memory when the summer rains come down. I braved the icy water with my bare feet and had an awesome time looking for some compositions under an overcast sky…

August Waterfall




Well, there was also some family time and my wife, Lindie, and my son, Rulof, joined me on a hike which was suppose to take only about an hour. I soon realized that I should have explored the route, before I took my eight month old son on it, as every now and then I was on all fours or climbing over very slippery rocks with Rulof still on my back. The hike took us about two hours eventually, but all the excitement did not prevent Rulof from being fast asleep for the last 30 minutes or so, whilst still on my back…

What makes Blyde River Canyon so exciting? I suppose it is the unpredictability of mother nature and the surprises that she can offer! You never know when you are just going to have grey skies and mist so thick that you cannot see ten paces in front of you…
Image taken at 08:07 on 11 August 2013

or some great light that peeps through the clouds…

Image taken at 08:35 on 11 August 2013


Image taken at 08:44 on 11 August 2013

I am new to landscape photography, but enjoy all the new challenges it presents and still have a lot to learn! I will surely have to return to Blyde River Canyon to try my luck on some better light and to explore more of this mystical canyon…

The silence after


Mystical Canyon