After our quick visit to Pilgrim’s Rest, we continued onwards to Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a series of natural rock formations that mark the beginning of the Blyde River Canyon. The potholes are fenced off within the Blyde River Canyon reserve, but a fee of R25 per person plus R5 per car is not too exorbitant to see this stunning natural wonder. Once inside, you can browse the stalls selling local crafts and curios and you have access to the braai (BBQ) facilities and an informative visitor’s centre.
The Potholes are huge round holes eroded into the red sandstone of the canyon where the Blyde River and the Treur River meet (translated from Afrikaans, the river of joy and the river of sorrow). They are named after Tom Bourke, an 18th century prospector who staked a claim nearby. Although large deposits of gold were later found in the area, Mr Bourke’s claim never produced a single ounce of gold. Today, the holes are filled with coins thrown in by visitors making wishes.
There are walkways along the rocks and pedestrian bridges stretching across the canyon, which gives spectacular views of the potholes, waterfall and pools. Although you’re not technically allowed to, many visitors take their shoes off and immerse their feet in the refreshingly cool water of the river, before continuing their exploration of the area along a series of hiker’s footpaths.
It was an extremely hot day when we visited and there is no shade to appreciate the view from. After we’d cooled down in the river, we bought ice cream from one of the stalls and watched the locals performing a traditional African dance. Although we’ve seen these dances many times before and are no longer impressed by them, the other foreign tourists seemed to enjoy them tremendously. I think one could easily make a day trip of this if you’d brought your picnic basket and braai utensils along. Since we planned on taking the scenic route along the escarpment back to Sabie however, we decided to move on while the sun was still bright and the views stretched out as far as the eye could see…