We Nearly Missed the Dam Boat Tour at Blyde River Canyon

Sunset at Blyde River Canyon

Outrageously stunning Sunset at Blyde River Canyon – please ask permission to use this photograph

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Our first order of business on the second morning of this journey was to check out the hiking trails around the Blyde Canyon Forever Resort. Claiming to have the most spectacular trails in the Mpumalanga region, we had to judge for ourselves. For those who plan to hike at the Forever Resort, first stop off at the reception desk, pay 50 R/person and sign in stating which trail(s) you plan to hike. If you don’t sign in and an accident occurs, then no one will come looking for your sorry lost soul as you lay mangled, twitching and moaning on the trail wondering if anyone will find you before you perish in the wilderness. Just sayin’.

We drove further into the lovely hotel grounds and parked at the restaurant (as we were told), and then took a 10-minute walk down the road to the trailhead (where it seems we could have parked albeit potentially illegally). Not a big deal, an extra 10-minute walk downhill. THIS became a bigger deal after our fairly strenuous and longer-than-antciipated hike, when we had to high-tail it UPHILL and drive to the dam boat tour.

Three Rondavels

Walking down the road to the trailhead we caught a glimpse of the Three Rondavels from a different angle. Beautiful from all perspectives.

We chose the Guineafowl trail. Harmless enough, the Guineafowl. A shy, gentle, nervous bird that barely flies. Should be easy, right? Okay, it wasn’t totally easy and not just because we are out of shape and certainly not because the Guineafowl is a trail designed for hiking losers. Thinking it was a 2-hour trail, we later discovered it is a 3-hour trail that we managed in 2.5 hours. Add to it, there were spots of deep bush, steep, rocky inclines and steep, rocky, muddy muddy muddy drops.

Two times we crossed the Kadisi River (more like a stream – a tributary of the Blyde River) rendering my sneakers, socks and pant leg bottoms soaked on the first go-round. All this because I’m neither as confident nor as graceful as Scott on slippery rocks in moving water.

At the beginning we were happy and filled with energy!

Somewhere near the end we came upon a mud swamp and were feeling tired and sticky and hungry. This is Scott negotiating our next move down a muddy hill. Oh yeah..there was muddy slippage.

By the way, you won’t see any photos of the more “treacherous” parts of the trail. I was much too focused on keeping the ole’ ankles moving in the right direction. There were some beautiful spots – nearly 1000 meters up scanning the Drakensberg Mountains above and the green lakes below. It would’ve been breathtaking, but my breath had already been taken by the steep incline that brought us to that vista.

But despite it all, including those fleeting moments of frustration in which we weren’t certain where the path was leading and we were certainly running out of time to get to our dam boat tour, it was spectacular. Quite spectacular.

Kidisi River Valley

Scenic views all the away around – this is the Kidisi River Valley

Tufa waterfall

Taking a breather by the Tufa waterfall

The trail disappeared after we crossed the river (the first time), so Scott scouted out the scene to see if he could find it. It wasn’t up there.

Did you know?

Tufa waterfall is a rare phenomenon. As opposed to rock eroding away from the water, a tufa is the building up of rock behind the waterfall. This is partially due to the high calcium content of the water because the water is running over dolomite rock which is rich in calcium. It also has something to do with the moss on the rocks releasing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis which expedites the calcium deposits as layers of tufa.

Supposedly the water of a tufa falls is much whiter than other waterfalls. I didn’t notice a difference. Tufa means sponge.

Wow. Very peaceful place. We saw NO other people on this trail. In hindsight, we would’ve given ourselves half a day here and had a picnic and a “swim” at THIS VERY SPOT by the Tufa falls. Totally chill.

Cool pink grasses

The Dam Boat Tour

We made a run for it hoping not to miss the Blyderivierpoort Dam tour. Given the 1.5 hour drive in unfamiliar territory, we were prepared to forfeit the dam boat tour in lieu of having just had a top-notch hike. Fortunately, we called a day in advance and ordered the dam tour tickets (120R/person or $11.00 US) by phone through Big Five Country Tourism: 013-767-1573.

I spent the dam drive holding my socks and sneakers out the window to dry the things off before we got to the dam boat tour. Not only did we make it with 15 minutes to spare, but we were the first to arrive.

Blyderivierpoort Dam tour boat dock

Walking to the Dam Boat Dock

Our dam boat operator was only just arriving as we pulled down the gravel road leading to the boat dock parking lot. We were surprised -pleasantly- to see what a rustic operation this dam tour was, and there were only six other people (all from England) that joined in. We were a small, intimate group guided by a light-hearted, well-spoken dam boat operator, Bednek.

Blyderivierpoort Dam tour

Seats for me and the Mr. P.

Blyderivierpoort Dam tour Bednek tour guide

This is Bednek, our charming, funny and well-read boat driver. He shared a lot of his vast knowledge of the world and especially of this pretty little part of it. He was quirky, a personality trait I tend to favor in others.

Blyderivierpoort Dam tour

Parts of this dam tour remind me of Doubtful Sound in New Zealand

Three Rondavels or dire rondavels from inside the canyon

Three Rondavels from inside the canyon – yet another awesome perspective of the Drie Rondawels

Tufa falls - second tallest on the planet (660 ft)

Supposedly this Tufa falls is the second tallest on the planet (660 ft)- this one is called The Weeping Face. If you look closely, the rocks form a human face. The water is falling from the eyes and nose.

Hadeda Ibis

Hadeda Ibis (I think)

White-breasted Cormorant

White-breasted Cormorant

Sunset blyde canyon dam

The sun was beginning to lower as we ended the trip.

We didn’t see the actual dam or the dam wall for that matter. Because of the many heavy rains in the area, the current was too strong to head in that direction. We did, however, have a fun, relaxing and informative dam tour.

Did you know?
Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on earth (claiming the #3 position), possibly the largest “green” canyon because of its lush subtropical vegetation. The second largest canyon in Africa (after the Fish River Canyon) and carved out of mostly red sandstone, it is considered one of the Great Wonders of South Africa.

The next morning we awoke to a refreshing rain shower. Taking our time driving back to Marloth we stopped in the charming town of Sabie. Sabie is derived from the Tsonga Shangaan word “Ulusaba” which means fearful, because the river once was brimming with dangerous crocodiles.

Baobab tree

Baobab tree

The heart of Sabie

The heart of Sabie

I had been craving hash browns (this is not an uncommon occurrence), and the Africa Elephant Restaurant delivered scrumptious hash brown patties despite the fact this is not a menu item. Well done to their chef and to Frida, one of the most delightful waitresses we’ve ever experienced. Scott and I both had food and beverages for about $11.00 US. This was the first restaurant meal we’ve had in weeks – it was tasty, hearty and reasonably priced at a place with excellent service and a  peaceful ambiance.

Scott thinks this was one great cup of coffee, and my tropical juice was flavorfully delish.

Yum. Golden brown just how I like them. And they had mustard. Gotta have mustard on my h-browns.

Frida – full of life and love

I've seen other similar road signs in South Africa.

Back on the road – I’ve seen other similar road signs in South Africa. Good reminder.

This is our lil rental car, a Fiat called Punto. Yes, with an “n”.

Giraffes hanging in the road at Marloth Park, apparently asking why we couldn’t have taken an alternate route.

And above, these were the folks who greeted us when we arrived back “home” to Marloth Park. Do you see the Duiker? I got out of the car and took about a gazillion photos from barely 20 feet away. And when we walked up to the house, the Duiker, Dinkie, came up to me for a nuzzle. Life is good.

Have you ever had any dam tours? If so, remark in the comments section below. I welcome all your dam comments.

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“But love is much like a dam: if you allow a tiny crack to form through which
only a trickle of water can pass, that trickle will quickly bring down the whole structure, and soon no one will be able to control the force of the current. For when those walls come down, then love takes over, and it no longer matters what is possible or impossible; it doesn’t even matter whether we can keep the loved one at our side. To love is to lose control.”
~Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photos, videos and stuff*** Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use. And please do follow this blog and/or write comments. A million and twenty-three thanks.

Check out the other South Africa posts below:

South Africa Post #1: Our first Kruger National Park Safari
South Africa Post #2: Babysitting a Banded Mongoose Pup in Marloth Park
South Africa Post #3: When Zebras Visit
South Africa Post #4: Daily Living in Marloth Park, South Africa
South Africa Post #5: Kruger Restcamps: Skukuza, Satara and Olifants
South Africa Post #6: Kruger Safari: Full Moon over Letaba
South Africa Post #7: Kruger Safari: Treasure Hunting in Tamboti and Lower Sabie
South Africa Post #8: There’s a Mongoose in my Ear!
South Africa Post #9: Peering through God’s Window at Blyde River Canyon
This is South Africa Post #10: The Dam Boat Tour at Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Post #11: Rare Sexual Encounters of South Africa
South Africa Post #12: To the Wildlife of Marloth Park
South Africa Post #13: Nelspruit to Cape Town
South Africa Post #14: Moved to Tears on Freedom Day
South Africa Post #15: Penguins in South Africa?
South Africa Post #16: The Southernmost Tip of Africa
South Africa Post #17Birds of Eden at Plettenberg Bay
South Africa Post #18: Dear South Africa: I love you, but…
South Africa Post #19: Elephants at Addo National Park 
South Africa Post #20The Garden Route: Nature’s Valley and Wilderness
South Africa Post #21: Endangered Bontebok
South Africa Post #22Top Five Cape Town Experiences
South Africa Post #23Chasing Rainbows in South Africa
South Africa Post #24Vegan Wanderlust in South Africa
South Africa Post #25Ubuntu

21 Comments:

  1. I love the sunset pic. I can not believe how crazy beautiful that land is!

    • kendaswartz@gmail.com

      The land IS crazy beautiful! It’s some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. My photos don’t do it justice. I love your comments.

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