Running a ragged sickle shape along the eastern part of South Africa, the soaring peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains are just a short drive from the Mpala Lodge. So why not join a daytrip during your stay with us?
This great escarpment intercepts rain clouds coming in from the subtropical Indian Ocean coastline making it a crucial water catchment area. It is simply Africa’s greatest water factory!
What a contrast then to the arid landscapes and grasslands you’ll find on your safari. A sanctuary for rare birds, mammals and alpine flowers Drakensberg really should be part of your itinerary!
What to see
Our daytrip will take you to some of the most spectacular views in South Africa. Belonging to the Mpumalanga Nature Reserve, the Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world spanning a vast 29,000-hectare (72,000 acre). From here you’ll marvel at the canyon which is carved into almost 2.5km (1.6mi) of red sandstone. It’s an extraordinary geological feature with impressive lush scenery, sitting below the confluence of the rivers Blyde (meaning joy) and Treur (meaning sorrow).
To the east, the Three Rondavels or Three Sisters, provide a spectacular view over the canyon. They are shaped like traditional African beehive huts, forming three gigantic pinnacles of rock towering above the canyon underneath. Don’t miss the views of the Pinnacle, a fittingly named single quartzite column that rises from the wooded canyon.
The area includes many other astonishing sights such as the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. They take their name from Tom Bourke, a 19th-century gold rush prospector who is said to have made his fortune here.
What emotions will this amazing landscape stir in you?
What to do
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in this area. The hiking trails meander through the reserve and cater for all ages and levels of fitness. There are also a wide variety of adventure sports on offer such as white water rafting and abseiling as well as peaceful activities like fly-fishing.
The Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve is one of the few areas of montane grassland in existence in Mpumalanga. You’ll find more than 1,000 flora species many of which are entirely unique to this area (endemic) rare or endangered, such as the cycads.
One rather special inhabitant is the Taita Falcon ¬- only to be found in a few places in the world. You’ll be surprised by the wide variety of wildlife such as the Grey Rhebuck, Klipspringer, Kudu, Oribi, and all five species of South African primates!
Make sure you leave time to be charmed by one the beautiful waterfalls nearby, and if you visit in the spring you’ll find you’re tiptoeing across carpets of wild flowers.
The Mpumalanga nature reserve expands 60km (40mi) from just north of the picturesque town of Graskop and reaches up to the Abel Erasmus pass. It’s easily accessible on tarred roads and takes around 2 hours from the Mpala-Lodge
So come and see for yourself why the Drakensberg Mountains really do make a perfect complement to a safari in the Great Kruger National Park.