Last weekend we took Petie (aka “Killer” or more formally “Lord Butters, First Earl of Bichon”) on a grand adventure. It was a weekend of historic firsts….stunning beauty, heart thumping danger and an assortment of photo ops.
The goal of the trip was to experience the beauty and wonder of the Blyde River Canyon. Located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment, the Blyde River Canyon is 16 miles in length, it averages a depth of 2,461 feet – but maxes out at around 4,537 feet. With its lush subtropical foliage, the Blyde River Canyon is the largest “green canyon” on earth and the third largest overall – after the Grand Canyon in the US and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It has some of the deepest and precipitous cliffs of any canyon on the planet and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the African continent.
So, now that I have given you a summary of the facts (only partially plagiarized from Wikipedia)…here’s a brief chronicle of our adventure.
4 hours in the car. Petie did NOT get carsick (an event in and of itself) before arriving at our final destination…where what did we see? Stunning escarpments, scenic overlooks, the Blyde River – rushing along, tumbling over boulders and falling from sheer cliffs? NOPE! Near constant rain. Fog and mist that completely obscured the landscape- YES! We stopped at the Log Cabin Village in Graskop for the night where surprise surprise – we discovered a stowaway in Evans duffle bag – or in his hiking boot to be more specific.Apparently, the toad that usually lives in our garage was also looking for a bit of an adventure. I hope he found a good home in Graskop. After scolding Mr. Toad, Petie just wanted to curl up on a comfy chair in the cabin and sleep. The street outside our cabin filled with bus loads of tourists inexplicably lining up for pancakes at Harrie’s – so Evan and I headed to the quiet end of town to explore – we picked up a few souvenirs then discovered The Loco Pub & Coachman Bar (a quirky train station turned sports pub) and settled in for a couple of beers. Once the sun set – there was nothing to do. Everything was chilly and dark – good thing I brought along a bottle of Rupert and Rothchild’s Classique and the cabin had a couple of cozy blankets in the closet. If you are looking for inexpensive, spartan, log cabin style accommodations in Graskop, I highly recommend the Log Cabin Village.
Up early to greet the sunshine and clear skies. We skipped the local pancake joint to get a jump on the tour buses. First stop – Gods Window. The overlook was stunning – but more importantly – Petie went hiking and had his first monkey encounter. At first sight of the mighty bichon, his tiny simian adversaries took to the trees…screeching and shaking the branches in an effort to intimidate him. They did not succeed.
Next stop – Berlin Falls. Petie was not impressed… but I was, My photo of the line of pine trees along the ridge above the falls is one of my favorites. Shortly after leaving the falls, there was a baboon sighting – they sensed the danger and kept their distance.
The stop at Bourke’s Luck Potholes did not go well. A nasty French woman referred to him as a lap dog – good only for sitting on grandmothers laps. The geology was fascinating, but Petie was in a huff so we didn’t stay long. (That and it turns out Bourke’s Luck Potholes is in the Blyde River Nature Reserve where dogs are prohibited)
Next up was the “Scenic View Overlook”. Petie was still smarting from mademoiselle’s stinging words and stayed in the car to pout and maybe eat a hotdog while I took a hundred or so pictures.
Last stop on our canyon tour was the Three Rondavels, the place was thick with tourists, so we grabbed a few (dozen) photos and hit the road to look for lunch. We stopped at the Impangele Inn Restaurant & Guest House near Lydenburg – a lovely place that is nonexistent if you do a google search and don’t use their exact name (“SEO shaming” should be a thing). Here Petie had his final adventure of the trip. He met some friendly pigs – they were quite intrigued with each other – this mostly involved sniffing, snuffling, shuffling, and lots of barking. Evan and I had a lovely pot roast for lunch and then headed home. 4 more hours on the road…this time Petie did throw up – IN A LITTLE PAN! Petie is awesome.