Monday, 9 October 2017

Blyde River Canyon

 Even though our flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg lasted for 2½ hours our road travels were again suddenly accompanied by the Drakensberg Mountain range. This huge escarpment stretches for 700 miles eventually forming a natural border with Lesotho.
We had no idea what we were about to see as we walked across the top of this escarpment on our journey travelling to the dry bushveld plains of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The panoramic route we travelled passed by the fissured ridges of the Drakensberg Mountains - the most spectacular section of the Canyon. 
 The fast flowing Blyde River, has over the centuries, carved its way though 700m of shale and quartzite to create a scenic jumble of cliffs, islands, plateaus and bush-covered slopes that form a 20 km canyon. To give some scale to the canyon the turquoise dot just visible in the river on the left is a pleasure cruiser boat, and notably the river is home to crocodiles and hippopotamus.
The Three Rondavels
Rondavels are traditional cylindrical Zulu huts with conical thatched roofs - these rock formations were shaped by the erosion of soft rock beneath a harder rock cap that eroded more slowly. 
The final leg of our journey is now less than two hours away

39 comments:

  1. Fabulous photographs Rosemary. Would love to go there and experience it for myself.

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    1. Dear Gina - this trip continually surprised and amazed us. It is one thing reading an itinary but quite another actually experiencing it.

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    1. My understanding is that it is the third largest in the world.

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  3. I,ve seen a few photographs in glossy mags of folk hill-walking in that mountain range but it looks tough going- not to mention dangerous animal encounters. Maybe guided helicopter trips to get up there instead of valley ascents from the bottom up onto the ridges? Beautiful photographs but I bet they don't have crowded trails through them yet :o)

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    1. I know there are holidays that you can take in South Africa that are purely walking and hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains. With a proper guide you can camp in Kruger Park so I should think that the same applies to the mountain ranges too.
      It does take you by surprise though encountering annimals that we only see in wildlife parks and zoos roaming free.

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  4. Love the light and the colours of the rock. Very impressive scenery. An area to put on my wish list. Enjoy. B x

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    1. I hadn't pictured it as being as wonderful as it was in reality.

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  5. Those photos are breath taking! I can only imagine what it must be like to be there. As great as you are at it, no photo ever can do justice to scenery like that.

    No answer from you is being asked for here... I can't help but wonder how you take these trips, with tour groups or do you two just bravely go it alone. There are places in the world where I would just book a ticket and go. Places like this would be another matter entirely. ;-)

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    1. Dear Catherine - it would be far too complicated for us to organise this trip ourselves. We would not have been sure as to the best places to go and how to organise internal flights etc, so yes we travelled with a group.
      We are off again soon, but just to Europe and this time we are travelling under our own steam.

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  6. I have enjoyed following along on this trip, Rosemary. This is a part of the world that I haven't yet visited and it is on my list. Our neighbours came here from South Africa and I have been gathering tips from them, but your posts have brought it all to life.

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    1. It is really lovely to hear from you again - thank you for commenting.
      I am pleased that these posts may have helped you should you decide to travel to South Africa yourselves - as you will nodoubt have observed there was so much that we loved seeing on this trip.

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  7. Quite spectacular, would love to see a hippo in the wild.

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    1. Hippos are my favourite animal especially the pygmy ones.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, The scenery is just spectacular. I was quite taken with all the color variations in the rocks.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - when we first arrived the sun was partially hidden, but as it appeared from behind the clouds more and more colours appeared in the rocks.

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  9. Dear Rosemary - What spectacular views of dynamic geography! The rock formation is wondrous art of nature and the river looks so wild with ferocious wildlife, hippos and crocodiles. Regarding to your question; yes, the boy in blue costume is my grandson.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - it was certainly a very dramatic spot, and staring down into the vast canyon made one feel very insignicant.
      I thought that was your delightful little grandson.

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  10. Wow, what a magnificent flight it must have been, looking down on that spectacular scenery Rosemary. South Africa is a big country, a 2.5 hour flight is like Brisbane to Melbourne, a long way. The rondavels are certainly intriguing and one wonders if they inspired the shape of the original Zulu huts.

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    1. I wonder if they did inspire the Zulus Patricia - our flight did not follow the mountain range and that is why we were surprised when we encountered them once again along our road journey from Johannesburg. I should have checked out the physical geography of South Africa before I left.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,

    Such a spectacular landscape to look down on, that must have been awe-inspiring. Love the colours and the rock formation and such a long way down to the river.
    Have a great week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Dear Carolyn - I understand that it is the third largest canyon in the world - I am ashamed to say that I had never even heard of it before.

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  12. These are spectacular pictures, Rosemary. Scenery is so hard to photograph well. I wish I had seen this when I went to South Africa.

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    1. Dear Jenny - now that I am home I am surprised at just how much we did manage to fit in and see during the time that we were there. However, on reflection it would have been nice to spend more time at Blyde River Canyon and take the boat trip through the canyon to see the hippos and crocodiles.

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  13. An amazing scenery and beautiful colors and shapes in those spectacular rocks .

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  14. Breathtaking Rosemary - I've never seen the Drakensburg Mtns. from this perspective - only the distant range when at Mala Mala, SA. I know that boat trip would have been awesome also, but at least you weren't having to contend with hippos and crocs - always very scary! I agree with you that traveling in Africa has to be via organized trips by professionals, it's much too complicated or safe to go it alone.
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful part of SA - I'm thrilled to see how different it is in areas I've not visited.
    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing this area of S.A Mary - only one more post to go.
      Now that I am home and writing up the trip I can't believe just how much we actually saw.

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  15. Breathtakingly beautiful sceneries.

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    1. Couldn't believe what we were seeing when we got to the edge of the escarpment.

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  17. Dearest Rosemary,
    WOW, you sure did get the most scenic route for visiting beautiful South Africa!
    You were very lucky for coming upon such a spectacular sight. Despite it being croc territory...
    Thank your for sharing this beauty by your stunning photographs!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - before we left home I had no idea that this canyon would be so spectacular to see and view.

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  18. Those rock formations are spectacular. How wonderful to see them and the river from a great height. It's interesting to see the Rondavels and the similarity in shape to traditional Zulu huts.

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  19. Wow, what incredible scenery! Sarah x

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