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Blyde (Motlatse) River Canyon: A goliath of gladness

 
14 July 2015 by Maryke Wasserman

Early in the morning, the rising sun from the east, lights up the precipitous wall of red sandstone, known by the name Blyde River Canyon.

There is something mesmerizing in waiting for a sunrise while perched on a rocky outcrop.  While falcons and swallows glide past our line of sight, it's the first glimmer of sunrays that leave one gasping for breath. Breaking through a crag in the mountain the orange gleams light up the walls of the Blyde River Canyon.  

 The 25km stretch of sheer rock face, better known as the Blyde River Canyon forms part of the northern Drakensberg escarpment in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.

A sharp drop of 800m on average gives the viewer an impression of standing at the edge of the world. 
 
This natural hallmark of the province is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, and it may be the largest "green canyon" in the world owing to the lush subtropical vegetation that grows on the banks of the river.
The Blyde River was renamed in 2005 to Motlatse River which means "a river that is always full" in the Pulane language. Although not one of South Africa's 11 official languages, the MaPulane people are close relatives of the Pedi and stayed in the area in the pre-colonial years.  
 
Whether it's named the 'River of Joy'  or 'A river that is always full' this towering giant will gladly keep watch over the winding ways of the river at its base.  
 
ACTIVITIES & VIEWS 
Starting from the tourist town of Graskop, these views will not disappoint: 
 
The Pinnacle, God's Window, Wonder View  
Treur River Falls, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Belvedere Hike 
Lowveld View, Three Rondawels, Blyde River Dam 
Echo Caves and The Museum of Man 
 
GOOD TO KNOW 
Stock up on snacks and supplies at Graskop or have a hearty meal at one of quite a number of restaurants and pubs in town, as this is the last town before the start of the Blyde River Canyon Reserve.