Mpumalanga's Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve lies on the edge of the Eastern Transvaal Drakensberg Plateau, and to many serves as an ideal starting point for a journey from Johannesburg to the world-renowned Kruger National Park. Considered as one of the most scenic and picturesque regions in South Africa, the highveld experiences both varying climates and geology, resulting a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The reserve covers almost 23,000 ha, and can be explored by car on a number of scenic roads which lead to various magnificent viewpoints.
The main feature of the Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve is the Blyde River Canyon - an enormous gorge carved out of the face of the escarpment. The canyon stretches 26 km from The Pinnacle near Graskop to Swadini in the north. The floor of the gorge can be reached only on foot. In this area of high rainfall the vegetation consists mainly of dense forests. Outcrops of striking dolomite and quartzite rocks are covered in vibrantly coloured green, orange and red lichen. The towering cliffs of the canyon create awe-inspiring waterfalls.
Also located within Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, are the well known Bourke's Luck Potholes. This series of deep cylindrical cavities were formed over thousands of years by swirling waters at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers. Another of the reserve's popular attractions is God's Window which provides visitors with one of Mpumalanga's most awesome views.
From here one can look out across miles of densely forested mountains, the fertile lowveld and the Blyde River Canyon. The popular Blyderivierspoort Hiking Trail starts at God's Window and takes five days to complete, leading hikers
over a total distance of 65 km.
In addition to beautiful specimens of giant ferns, rare orchids and species of Erica and Protea, Blyderivierspoort Nature Reserve is also home to an interesting variety of wildlife. The mountainous regions of the reserve are home to klipspringer and dassie, also known as rock hyrax. The wooded bushveld provides cover for such species as kudu, while the river banks serve as a habitat for bushbuck and bush pig. The reserve is also home to all five species of primate naturally found in South Africa - bush babys, chacma baboons and both samango and vervet monkeys.
The wetland and rivers of the reserve flow into the Swadini Dam. The dam provides habitat for crocodiles and hippopotamus as well as a variety of bird species which include all three species of South African loerie. These species also include both Levaillant's and croaking cisticola, broad-tailed warbler, Cape rock-thrush, buff-streaked chat, familiar chat and mocking cliff chat. The reserve also provides visitors with a number of excellent viewing points for a wide variety of raptors species amongst which Cape vulture, Verreaux's eagle, rock kestrel, lanner and peregrine falcons are often sighted.
Tucked away in the heart of the Blyde River Canyon, one of South Africa's most glorious scenic destinations, umVangati House is sure to restore your sense of peace from the moment you check in
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