Instagrammer, photographer and branded content creator, Shawn Ogulu, has travelled a lot and has seen some of the most beautiful places in the world. Of all the places he’s visited, he’s never seen anything quite like Blyde River Canyon – the largest green canyon in the world and the third largest overall – which is sitting pretty right in our backyard in Mpumalanga! If you’re planning a local road trip over the coming long weekends, Shawn shares his top tips to best experience Blyde River Canyon in all its glory.
I’ve been involved with travel photography for a long time and the reason I love it so much is because it incorporates different styles like street, food, portrait and landscape photography. I love having fond memories of a trip and then actually looking at a photo which brings back all those emotions. Most of my favourite memories are from trips I’ve taken across South Africa, all captured in my photographs – and my four visits to Blyde River Canyon are no different! I remember the first time I saw it, on a trip with Audi South Africa and some friends, I literally had to pick my jaw off the floor.
Having been there a good few times and photographing it from almost every angle, here are a few really handy tips if you’re keen to visit and get your own Instagram-worthy shots.
- The best time to travel the roads in Mpumalanga is during the day (avoiding night travel if possible as the roads after dark can be dangerous to in terms of low lighting and lack of road signs)
- Arrive early, relax, and take in the view before getting stuck into your Instagram worthy shots
- The viewing point at Blyde River Canyon has an access gate with an opening and closing time, but if you stay at Forever Blyde Resort you’ll have access to their private viewing spots that don’t have any time restrictions
- Another bonus to staying at Forever Blyde Resort is that they have some awesome hiking trails, like the beautiful laid back Kadishi-Tufa trail which starts just across the road from the restaurant outside chalet no 64. It spoils you with a beautiful waterfall about halfway through which is just sublime! This trail is mostly downhill and is only 2km, and is a great way to experience the outdoors and capture some Instagram-worthy snaps along the way. Bonus tip: The trail ends on one of the resort roads near the lower viewpoint and it’s a steep uphill to get back to your vehicle, so be sure to park your car at the bottom of the trail and catch a ride up to the start with someone
- The Panorama Route area is full of little attractions like Lisbon Falls (and a host of other waterfalls), Bourkes Luck Potholes and is in close proximity to the Kruger National Park, so be sure to spend some time exploring this area where you’ll get some beautiful photographs too.
Getting the best snaps
- The best time for photos is golden hour. This happens twice a day, for an hour after the sun rises and an hour before the sun sets. I know waking up early isn’t everyone’s idea of a holiday, but the amazing photos are usually worth the effort
- If you’re anything like me, then you like to plan when travelling. However, over the years I’ve found some of the best moments happen when you leave room in your schedule to just explore the place you’re visiting – and Blyde River Canyon is no different
- Finding locations is so easy these days. Instagram geotags are a great place to look when planning your trip and it also doubles as inspiration for photo ideas. I also like to use Google Earth when looking for landscape photo locations, and I’ve been able to take some of my best photos after finding a location on there
- Once you’ve got “the shot”, walk around a little and try taking a photo from a different angle, you might find that you prefer those shots
- For me, the best photos aren’t always the ones that are technically good or were taken with the most expensive cameras (although a good camera and quality lens does make a difference). The best photos are the ones that tell a story and can make the viewer feel like they were right there with you. So always keep an eye out for opportunities to tell a story with your phone or camera.