Unique Things About Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, South Africa

Last updated on March 13th, 2023 at 04:51 pm


Also known as the Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve, the Blyde River Canyon is one of the most prominent tourist centers in South Africa.

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve attracts the attention of tons of explorers from different places around the world.

Where is Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve located?

It is located in the Graskop, Drakensberg escarpment region of Eastern Mpumalanga, South Africa.


Tourists can easily have access to its beautiful geological features on tarred roads from Graskop coming with a vehicle.

Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest in the world, measuring 16 miles/25 kilometers in length plus around 2,460 feet/750 meters in depth.

Indeed, the reserve is one of the best and one of the most beautiful natural landmarks in South Africa.

A Brief History of Blyde River Canyon

According to some historians, the Drakensberg escarpment was formed millions of years ago, even before the advent of more recent human civilizations.

It is agreed that even from the earliest times of history, the canyon as well as the Lowveld around it, have been utilized as shelter, fertile farmland, and hunting platforms by different generations of natives that lived in the region.

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With the arrival of the Europeans (the Dutch people in particular) to the territories that would eventually be known as South Africa, a lot of changes were introduced.

The Blyde River got its name in 1844 from some Dutch Voortrekkers. These Europeans were said to have camped around the River while expecting the arrival of some members of their group who had visited Delagoa Bay for exploration.

History explained that with the successful arrival of these members of their camp from Delagoa Bay, they gave the River the name “Blyde” (which means “River of Joy”) as a testimonial to the joy they experienced since they thought they were long dead.

Then, in the year 1965, state authorities intentionally mapped out 29,000 hectares of the canyon as well as its surrounding regions, and these spaces were utilized to birth the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.

Change of name

In 2005, the Blyde River was renamed the Motlatse River by the government. Hence, officially, the canyon goes by the name Motlatse Canyon, although many are still stuck with the original name.

What Makes The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve So Special

The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve has a reputation for being home to the third-largest canyon in the whole world.

The Reserve offers great delight and a remarkable experience to fun lovers. With its superb lush scenery, the large Reserve stretches all out from the highlands down to the hotter and drier lowveld at the Blyde Dam, giving explorers unending adventures.

The place is also famous for the availability of various natural wonders, including God’s Window,

  • Pinnacle Rock,
  • Bourke’s Luck Potholes,
  • Three Rondavels.
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This is one of the few areas where one would find montane grassland in Mpumalanga.

The grasslands are made up of numerous flora species, and you won’t find some of them anywhere else in Africa and beyond.

In addition to all of these, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is also home to the Taita Falcon, as well as rare animals like Oribi, Klipspringer, Kudu, etc.

The Reserve is properly managed and there are several exciting things to do here. Tourists can engage in a variety of adventure sports like white water rafting and fly fishing.

Good accommodations are available throughout the area too, and travelers can feel at home while creating great experiences here.

One of the core factors contributing to the popularity of the Reserve is due to its closeness with the Kruger National Park, which is another famous and superb tourist center in the country.

Animals That Can Be Found In Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Like other tourist locations e.g Addo Elephant National Park, Mandela House, the Canyon plus the Lowveld plain is home to several types of animals, including:

  • vervet monkey,
  • baboon,
  • blue wildebeest,
  • kudu,
  • impala,
  • zebra,
  • Leopard,
  • bushpig, and
  • waterbuck.

In the Blyde Dam, explorers will find mammals such as hippos and crocodiles.

You will come across several types of birds at the Reserve, including:

  • vultures,
  • crowned eagles,
  • Gymnogene,
  • malachite sunbird,
  • African fish eagle,
  • emerald cuckoo,
  • green twinspot,
  • cinnamon doves,
  • black eagles,
  • Narina trogon,
  • golden-tailed woodpecker,
  • Cape vulture,
  • red-backed mannikin,
  • Gurney’s sugarbird,
  • bald ibis,
  • jackal buzzard,
  • Knysna lourie,
  • white-backed vulture,
  • purple crested lourie, and
  • African finfoot
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What is the cost of visiting The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve?

  • Adults: R35 (which is only about $1.91)
  • Children and pensioners:  R20 (about $1.09).

You can explore The Three Rondavels, the canyon viewpoint, as well as other lovely areas within the Reserve.

Hence, you should note that admission into the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is not in any way free, but you must pay a small, very reasonable fee.

How Far Is The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve from Pretoria?

The road distance between Pretoria and the Blyde River Canyon is around 460 km on average.

It is faster if you take a plane from Johannesburg to Nelspruit, and then rent a car to the Reserve itself.

Requirements For Entering Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Once you paid your entrance fee at the gate, you will be allowed into the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.


There are lots of available lodges tourists can choose from. The most popular among all the hotels is Blyde river canyon lodge which can be found at Blyde River Botanical Reserve off R531, Hoedspruit, South Africa.

Security Measures at Motlatse Canyon Provincial Nature Reserve

There are no safety fears or issues at the Reserve and its surroundings. However, while driving down to the area, ensure you drive carefully because of the people and animals on the road.


The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is a prominent place in South Africa with a reputation for housing the third-largest canyon in the world. It houses God’s view, in fact, some tourists prefer to refer to the reserve as God’s view.

It is properly managed and keeps attracting several tourists and adventurers from all over the globe every year.

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