Hiking Bourke’s Luck Potholes, Blyde Canyon, South Africa

August 22, 2016

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These river carved potholes and waterfalls make for a dramatic stop off of Route 532, between Graskop and Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. While popular with nearly everyone passing through this area, it wasn’t too crowded on a Monday morning in late August and worth the 50 Rand/$4USD admission price.

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At the end of the dry season there was still plenty of water. The landscape, however, would be much prettier with greener foliage.

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Hike to the waterfall

If you have some time to kill and are yearning for a more secluded spot there is a 4-5 hour return hike to with a series of pretty pools above a waterfall. A great spot for a picnic and swim on a warm day. To do  the hike you pay an additional 50 Rand per person at the entrance and register at reception where they give you a map.  The trail system shown on the map is much more extensive than the out and back to the power station that they allow you to do at present.

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The hike itself is rather dull, first following along the top of the ridge and then descending into the canyon to reach the river.

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The trail descends and climbs through the jungle a couple of times before hitting the Belvedere, an abandoned guest house.

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Here to the left of the sign is a trail to the falls and pools. We didn’t continue on to the power station. Whether you go to the power station or not the falls and pools are definitely worth the 15 minute descent to reach them. This trail, however, is more overgrown than the main trail in but passable.

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At a different time of the year the trail could be green versus the dry mass of plant material in late winter. The day was warm – probably mid-80s – and hot walking in the sun. There are few views from the trail, too much vegetation in the way. In the rainy season the trail may be muddy with an abundance of slippery rocks. They were somewhat slippery even when dry.

 

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Pools above the falls

 

I would only recommend this trail if you desire some exercise or want to see the falls and enjoy a secluded spot for a picnic and swim. Otherwise the hike at the Blyde Canyon, A Forever Resort is much more pleasant.

God’s Window

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Just north of Graskop a pretty drive along a less traveled road, Route 534, leads to the God’s Window viewpoint.

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The window itself is a narrowish gap in the rocks with a view of the valley below. Judging from photos this view is often hazy and best seen in the afternoon.

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There is also a rain forest viewpoint – a jungle walk complete with raised boardwalks to a similar view. Both are totally skippable if you have better things to do.

 

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