There are places I’ve traveled that I wish I could do over. Have a do-over. Can’t we all be granted a few of those? Mostly, that’s everywhere and everything I’ve seen, with few exceptions – like the time everything I had was stolen in Ko Phi Phi or when I threw up for two straight hours on a small fishing boat headed to snorkel with whale sharks in Mozambique (both are wildly embarrassing. Moving on…). But there are some places that with age, developed interests and whatnot, I desperately wish I could transport myself back in an instant and experience it through my eyes now, as the person I am now.
(What am I blathering about? Does anyone ever know?)
Anyway. Today, at least, the blabbering is about the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa. It’s one of those places that I’d use one of my three genie in a bottle wishes to get a do-over. It’s pretty special.
Blyde River is one of the largest canyons in the world. As I remember my history lesson when I visited back in the ancient year of 2008, it’s smaller only than the Grand Canyon here in the US of A and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It’s vibrant – green with lush growth and made of red sandstone. The river runs through the cracks and crevices, spiraling around towering boulders, and the cliff edges jut out precariously – natural benches on which to take it all in. I mean, no amount of photoshopping could enhance this place or beautify it. It’s naturally awe-inspiring, breathtaking and spectacular.
Blyde sits along the so-named Panorama Route, a stretch of land in the southeastern part of the country – near to the city of Durban and Kruger National Park, dotted with natural landmarks. I made my way to Blyde on an overlanding trip the semester I studied abroad in South Africa. We hit the road running in Cape Town and criss-crossed the country – through Swaziland, down along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, up through Kruger National Park and back through the Panorama Route. While we pitched tents every night in the abundant campgrounds that dot the countryside, there are hostels, inns and hotels in all of the towns and major cities. To access the destinations along the Route, you need to rent a car or join an organized overlanding tour.
The Canyon and other destinations along the Panorama Route are certainly set up for tourists. They’re well-maintained and marked. So few people go, though. You have to want to go there, plan that to be a destination. It has to be purposeful, and not many people make Blyde a purposeful visit. In my humble, modest opinion, that’s a HUGE mistake. But, I mean, less crowds and more beauty for us, right?
In the past few years, I’ve settled into myself, into my hobbies and passions and found this endless, abounding love and deep appreciation for being in and exploring nature. If I could go back to Blyde, I’d spend the most time there I possibly could. Maybe I’d never come back! I’d hike, camp and devour it whole.
This final picture is courtesy of GraniteNet. The other images are my own.
Here’s why you should visit Blyde River Canyon:
- Natural playground (hiker’s daydream)
- On of the three largest canyons in the world
- Proximity to Kruger National Park, Durban and the rest of the Panorama Route
- Off the beaten path
- Spectacular views (photographer’s daydream)
If a genie granted you three travel wishes, what would they be?