The Blyde River (also known as the Motlatse) Canyon Nature Reserve is situated in Mpumalanga and, with legendary viewing points such as God’s Window, offers some of the most spectacular views in South Africa. Activities range from hiking and swimming to scenic drives. Seek out the water-eroded Bourke’s Luck Potholes where prospectors searched for gold.

Did you know?

The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest in the world and has been renamed the Motlatse River Canyon.

The 29 000ha Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is carved out of nearly 2,5km of red sandstone and is one of South Africa's most remarkable geological features. Also known as the Motlatse Canyon, it is the third largest canyon on Earth and is situated below the confluence of the Blyde ('joy') and Treur ('sorrow') rivers.

This Mpumalanga nature reserve stretches for 60km from just north of the little town of Graskop, up to the Abel Erasmus pass. You'll get stunning views of the Escarpment from legendary viewpoints such as God's Window, where on a clear day, you can see as far as Kruger Park and Mozambique.

Other natural attractions include Bourke's Luck Potholes, where Tom Bourke, a 19th-century gold rush prospector, is said to have made his fortune. Water erosion over millennia has carved cylindrical sculptures from the canyon's red and yellow rocks which are interspersed with rock pools.

From the canyon look out eastwards to the Three Rondavels or Three Sisters, three massive spirals of dolomite that rise from the far wall of the canyon. A single quartzite column, aptly named the Pinnacle, rises from the wooded canyon, offering more spectacular vistas.

The environment varies from high mistlands to the drier and warmer lowveld around the Blyde River Dam.

You'll find more than 1 000 species of flora in the reserve, including several species of endangered cycads, and, in spring, carpets of wild flowers. Try to visit at least one of the nearby several beautiful waterfalls.

Bird and animal life is abundant. Spot Verreaux's eagle, the rare bald ibis which nests on the cliff ledges, and all five species of South African primates, including vervet and samango monkeys, chacma baboons and both species of bushbaby.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300
Email: info@mtpa.co.za

Blyde Canyon (Forever Resort)
Tel: +27(0)86 122 6966

Swadini (Forever Resort)
Tel: +27(0)15 795 5141

How to get here

Blyde River Canyon is situated along the Panorama Route and easily accessible from the west of the Kruger National Park and the towns of Sabie and Nelspruit.

Best time to visit

Abseiling is best in winter, from June to the end of August, but the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is spectacular throughout the year.

Around the area

Organised tours of the Blyde River Canyon Hiking Trail, God's Window, Three Rondawels, The Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes, visitor's centre and the Blyde River Dam are available.

Tours to do

There are organised tours that take in Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, Three Rondawels, The Pinnacle, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the visitor's centre and the Blyde River Dam.

Get around

Self drive

What will it cost

The view is free.

Length of stay

You could spend a few days exploring this area on route to or from the Kruger National Park

What to pack

Pack sturdy boots, cameras and binoculars, as well as swimming gear, sunscreen and hats. A sense of adventure will also stand you in good stead.

Where to stay

The Blyde Canyon, a Forever Resort, is a three and four-star resort 50km from Graskop with commanding views of the Canyon. At the base of the canyon, you will also find Swadini which offers the view from below next to the Blyde River. It is 35km from Hoedspruit.

What to eat

Pancakes in Graskop

Best buys

Buy some craft or curios from one of the many craft sellers in the area.