Southern Africa – Day 7 – Blyde River Canyon

We got up this morning and dressed ready for breakfast, went outside & turned right around again – it was really cold!
Take two, jumpers on, let’s go…
Today after breakfast we packed the car with the photography gear and made tracks.

Today was Blyde River Canyon day – this is one on the areas David wanted to see. Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world – we were going to drive a circuit around the rim stopping at numerous scenic spots.
The first was Gods Window, walkways to various look out points and rainforest walks.

The views of the canyon were great, and the rainforest area was a surprise as the rest of the area is all rocky. Was extremely pretty.
By now the temperature had risen enough to ditch our jumpers, and became quite warm!

Next was Bourke’s Luck potholes- in the Blyde national park – this stop was impressive, when you hop out there are various curios shops as well as an eatery, but the main attraction was the Vervet monkeys playing next to the carpark, one even hopped on a car and was sitting on the aerial.

You walked down a large stone path to a bridge that crossed the river, with views of the mini waterfalls and basically large potholes in the limestone formed by erosion, we spent a lot of time here getting photos from many viewpoints. While we were there, we saw Baboon’s or more specifically saw Camcha Baboons – the largest Baboon species.

As we travelled along, we saw another lookout area which wasn’t on the list, but pulled in anyway, Lowveld View site – this turned out to be a great decision. We had a different out look from the other stops, but also one of the attendants there, Cathreen was super friendly and knowledgeable. We were the first Australian tourists she had met. She works from 8-5, 7 days a week, with no time off. She told us a bit of history regarding the rock formations, the big range at the back was named after a local chief and the 3 smaller mountains, of his 3 wives – David has enough trouble with one wife!

The next stop was of the 3 Rondavels – is the 3 mountain formations Cathreen was explaining – but this was a different angle- you could also see the river curving around & the beautifully blue/green coloured Blyde Lake, below.

As we were driving along, a truck driver flashed his lights, furiously, at us. The speed limit dropped from 100 to 60, as we were going up a small rise. David quickly braked and set the cruise control to 60kph. Less than a 100m later a police radar setup was on the left, which I thought, No Worries…. But no, the Police office stood up and waved us in. He said we was going 63kph, and that it was a ZAR 230 (approx. $23) fine. Then asked for David’s license, where upon seeing it was an Aussie one, he suddenly lost all interest in us?
Last stop was of Echo caves. Privately owned cave system, founded in 1920’s. The dolomite cave is a constant 17 degrees all year long. They have explored down to approx. 9 kms, but have stopped doing any more exploring as they now require oxygen to be worn to go deeper. There are 3 main chambers – the elephant, the crocodile and samson. Our guide, Tabo, explained that the caves were used by the local tribes when they were at war with the Swahili in the 1800’s, they would go down into the lower chambers, but leave a sentry at the opening, he would then signal to the people inside by banging on the stalactites – this would echo for approx. 1.2 km letting the men know to come out and fight.

Back to Crystal Springs lodge… well sort of… I selected the wrong waypoint in the GPS and ended up taking a 10km detour along a very rough track, until we realised the error!
As part of our package at the lodge we had prepaid breakfast and dinner. This turned out to be a very good deal. We could select anything from the dinner menu, which was extensive, including starters & mains. We had expected some form of buffet? The real surprise was that our drinks were also included. Great value!

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