Cycling The Blyde River Dam, Mpumalanga, South Africa
The Blyde River Dam is a popular day trip from Hoedspruit. For the intrepid explorer, mountain biking in the mouth of Blyde River Canyon provides a variety of beautiful and challenging terrain.
Access to the mouth of the Blyde River Canyon starts with a turn off of the R531 onto the Swadini Road. The Swadini Road ends at the Blyde River Dam and is a popular training ground for runners and cyclists. The wide tar road skirts the Moholoholo Reserve at the base of Mariepskop on one side and mango farms on the other.
After six kilometers there is a guard gate where visitors register for access to the Swadini Forever Resort and the Blyde River Dam. This is a popular place to park.
From the first guard gate, the tar road winds along the Blyde River. The landscape becomes wilder as you approach the mouth of the world’s third largest green canyon. After five kilometers you will come to another guard gate and pay a boom for the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.
From the boom, cycle across the river and find the trailhead to the Swadini waterfall on the right. A beautiful one-kilometer, forested track ends at the waterfall and a popular natural pool. The track is mostly rideable, but requires some walking.
After visiting the waterfall return to the tar road for the climb up to the Visitor Center Overlook at the dam. From the boom gate it is three kilometers to the top. The tar road gives way to dongas and potholes in the final 500 meters and is not appropriate for road cycles.
At the boom gate it is also possible to go straight and follow a narrow, flat tar road 1.5km to the base of the dam. This section of road is wonderful for children and beginning cyclists.
For those looking for strenuous, off-road options, follow the signs to the Hippo Trail. A steep and rocky, 4x4 track leads to the popular hiking trail. Stay on the 4x4 track until it ends after 1.25km at a cliff edge overlooking the Blyde River Dam. There is also a .4 kilometer spur track off to the right that ends ON the dam wall!
For your next mountain biking adventure, consider exploring the Swadini Road as a gateway to the Blyde River Canyon!