Cliffs, valleys and canyons of the Drakensberg Mountains meet the Blyde River near the small town of Graskop, South Africa.
We decide to chill out in the cool here for a few days. Take in some sweeping valley views from the Valley View Backpackers Hostel.
This area offers a myriad of adrenaline activities like white water rafting, canyoning (kloofing) and candlelight caving, but we’ve done it all at some point. If you’re not afraid, where’s the fun?
Let’s drive the Panoramic Route. Breathe in the mist at Lone Creek Falls.
God’s Window proves to be foggy during our entire stay…hope that’s not a sign!
Walk a short way to a crease in the canyon and see several more surprising waterfalls.
After viewing the Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon lures us into a strenuous hike to its belly.
The Belvedere Day Hike starts at Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Much larger than ones we dodge on the road, they are formed from whirlpools at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers.
We swim in sweat, just an hour into hiking this humid heat. The trail grows difficult weaving up and down into the canyon. Slick boulders, thorny vines, and washes help us lose the trail several times. Watch for snakes.
The canyon walls and river exude beauty and awe, but we’re too gassed to appreciate it. Got to hike at least two more hours to make it out of here, and our legs are gone. Hey, here comes that adrenaline when we get lost again!
Climbing rocks and searching for markers, we’ve forgotten about watching for snakes. Shoot, we have to stop just to slow down our heart rate. Finally, we reach relatively flat ground and have only an hour of hiking back to the Potholes. Perhaps we enjoy hiking because it still scares us.
Tonight, we celebrate with cold beers and peri-peri chicken livers and gizzards at Caninmambo Restaurant, a Portuguese/Mozambican joint. Next adventure, a grand finale of wild animals in Kruger Park, a South African highlight. Ron Mitchell