Monday, March 05, 2007

Final Weekends: Part 2

One of the highlights of the road trip I took through the United States back in 2004 was spending time around the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Hiking down the escarpment, and spending some time in quiet meditation within the panoramic surroundings, brought me close to nature in a way that I had never quite experienced before. When I consider the vast period of history that has unfolded while this river has consistently flowed, diligently carving it’s path through the bedrock, it puts my own place in history and my time on this planet into serious perspective. For me, canyons, aside from the breathtaking vistas that they offer, provide a powerful testament to the perseverance and enduring spirit of nature.

When I arrived in Mozambique and realized that the world’s third largest canyon was on the Blyde River in the Kleine Drankensburg mountain range, only a half days drive from Maputo in the northeastern part of South Africa, I was determined to make a visit. However, my travel plans were often postponed for the sake of countless beach excursions in Mozambique (which I certainly do not regret!!). As the months passed by, with my departure date approaching quicker, the Blyde River Canyon continued to call out to me from the National Geographic map of Southern Africa hanging prominently on my wall. With one final weekend available for travel, and facing one more obligatory border run for my tourist visa, I finally put my plan into action.

Nathalie and I rented a car in Maputo and packed it up with all our camping gear and set off early on the Saturday morning, reaching the quant little town of Graskop at about 3 in the afternoon. This was after we had to endure the massive weekend line up at the South African-Mozambican border. I don’t know why some young Mozambican hasn’t caught on to the idea of selling cold drinks to the thirsty souls in line like they do throughout the rest of the country…they would make an absolute killing I am sure!! Anyway, the town of Graskop is this old South African pioneer town whose charm has long been exploited by the pricey tourist industry. Nathalie and I, however, were able to find a nice campsite overlooking the Graskop gorge and thoroughly enjoy the numerous waterfalls in the area without being inundated with a constant stream of other tourists.

As the afternoon shadows began to stretch out longer, Nathalie and I picked up some classic “sundowner” supplies and headed out to the edge of the escarpment locally known as God’s Window. The view over the “lowveld” was spectacular as you could see all the way across Kruger Park and into the Gaza province of Mozambique!! We also found our own trail through the rainforests at the top of the mountain and arrived at our own secluded clearing where we could enjoy the panoramic view and watch the different thunder storms roll over the hills. Despite the numerous threats from these dark menacing clouds, Nathalie and I remained completely dry.

The following morning we awoke early and set off for the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which are situated at the opening of the canyon. These are fascinating rock formations that have formed over thousands of years from water swirling at the base of a series of waterfalls. Despite our preference for the unmarked trails, we signed up to take the Belvedere Trail down to the base of the canyon. It was a strenuous six hour hike and I quickly discovered that my physical condition paled in comparison to my fleet footed companion!! Nevertheless, we were both mesmerized by the scenery and overwhelmed by the sensation of standing within such a deep canyon. We were also able to treat ourselves to a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the Blyde River, allowing the strong current to carry us along the rocks and trees. We finished the day off with sundowners once again overlooking one of the most spectacular vistas I have ever experienced in my entire life. The Three Rondavels point gives you almost a 360 degree view of the canyon, allowing one’s senses to be flooded by the colours, the sounds and the spirit of God’s Country. It is at these moments where we can feel so incredibly humbled while at the same time feeling so immaculately exalted.

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Blogger Crystal said...

Those are amazing pictures. I'm jealous!

2:29 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello geezer - I'm glad you had a good time. What's it like being back in Cananda? Had any jacket pototoes?
John W

10:07 a.m.  
Anonymous Mark Benson said...

The beauty of Mozambique is quite eye catching and plenty of enthusiasts for holiday travel select this as a their destination for spending a charming yet adventurous destination. Go for a cheap flight to Maputo and witness the sheer beauty this African marvel is home to.

5:55 a.m.  

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