The Blyde (Motlatse) River Canyon Reserve which forms part of the Drakensberg escarpment is the third deepest canyon in the world and may be the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon and is on average around 800m deep.
The Blyde River is dammed at the mouth of the Canyon to create the Blyde Dam at Swadini. All five of South Africa’s primates can be spotted whilst crocodile, hippopotamus, waterbirds and ottors live in and around the rivers and wetlands of Swadini Dam. Dassies and klipspringer find food and shelter in the rocky areas while the grassland supports grey rhebuck , the rare oribi as well as rodents, reptiles and plenty of insects. Kudu prefer the cover of wooded bushveld and bushbuck and bushpig move amongst the luxuriant growth on the riverbanks. Birdlife is similarly diverse and plentiful, including the much sought after Narina Trogon.
There are some spectacular sights in quick succession of the canyon and the 33 km long gorge, as you follow the road along the rim of the Canyon. These include natural wonders such as:
The highest point, Mariepskop is 1944m above sea level whilst the lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 560m. This means that by some measure the Canyon is approx 1400m deep.
Blyde River Canyon Reserve is a 57km belt which forms part of the Panorama Route, starting at Graskop. Due to variations in altitude, temperature and rainfall, a great diversity of vegetation occurs.