The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is a breathtakingly beautiful and culturally rich UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. This province is known for its stunning landscapes and the mountains are just another stunning example of this. The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, also known as the Barberton Mountains or the Barberton Greenstone Belt, are considered one of the most important geological sites in the world. The mountains contain the oldest and best preserved volcanic and sedimentary rock on the planet, estimated to be 3.6 billion years old. This has made the area a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not only for its exceptional beauty but also for being an important habitat to a wide variety of plants and animals.
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land consists of small mountains and hills, ranging in altitude from 600 to 1,800 metres above sea level, and is surrounded by beautiful forests, valleys, and grassy plains. Visitors can enjoy the mountains by taking part in walking, hiking, or cycling trails. The area is also home to several nature reserves, offering visitors opportunities for game driving, birding, wildlife photography, and off-road trails. Visitors may encounter various wildlife such as zebra, cheetah, jackal, hyena, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and more.
For the adventurous, there are thrilling activities such as horse riding, quad biking, paragliding, and off-roading available in the rugged mountains of Mpumalanga. Visitors can also explore the caves and discover ancient pieces of rock art that offer a glimpse into the history of the area and its ancient inhabitants. The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land also boasts several archaeological remains that add a touch of nostalgia to the area. Touring the area with an experienced guide for a cultural or historical tour is a unique and memorable experience that brings the mountains to life in a new way.
Popular activities and tourist destinations in and near The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is a hub of activity and offers a range of popular tourist destinations and activities. Here are some of the most popular:
Hiking and Trekking: The mountains and hills in the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land offer several challenging hiking and trekking trails for visitors who want to experience the natural beauty of the area up close. There are trails for all levels of fitness, ranging from short and easy walks to strenuous hikes.
Wildlife Viewing: With several nature reserves in the area, visitors have the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife up close. Game drives and wildlife photography tours are popular activities for visitors who want to capture the beauty of the animals in their natural habitat.
Adventure Activities: For the adventurous, there are several thrilling activities available in the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land. Horse riding, quad biking, paragliding, and off-roading are popular activities that offer visitors a chance to experience the rugged beauty of the mountains in a unique way.
Rock Art Exploration: The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is home to several caves with ancient rock art, offering visitors a glimpse into the history and customs of the ancient people who once inhabited the area. Cave tours with experienced guides are popular among visitors who want to learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Nature Reserves: There are several nature reserves in the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land, each offering a unique experience for visitors. These reserves are perfect for wildlife viewing, birding, and off-road trails.
Cultural and Historical Tours: The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is rich in cultural and historical significance and offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the area’s history and ancient customs. Guided cultural and historical tours are popular among visitors who want to gain a deeper understanding of the area’s cultural heritage.
In addition to these popular tourist destinations and activities, there are several other sights and attractions to see in and near the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land, including scenic drives, waterfalls, and charming towns and villages. The area is a popular tourist destination and offers something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a unique and memorable South African experience.
Kruger National Park
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is a unique and diverse natural area located in South Africa. It is home to an array of popular tourist destinations, including the Kruger National Park – the largest game reserve in the country. Spread across 2 million hectares of land and stretching 352 km from north to south along the Mozambique border, the Kruger National Park is a wildlife haven that has been rated as one of the best in Africa.
Established in 1898, the Kruger National Park was named after Paul Kruger, who dedicated 12 years of his life to conserving the Lowveld wildlife in the area. The park lies in the heart of the Lowveld and is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links it with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park will eventually cover 35,000 square km, with 58% of it in South Africa, 24% in Mozambique, and 18% in Zimbabwe. The park is known for its abundant wildlife, including the Big Five, the Little Five, and the birding Big Six, as well as more species of mammals than any other African game reserve.
Visitors to the Kruger National Park have the option of self-drive or guided tours. The park has an excellent infrastructure, including picnic sites, rest camps, waterholes, and hides, making it a convenient and comfortable destination for tourists.
The Kruger National Park can be broadly classified into six ecosystems: baobab sandveld, Lebombo knobthorn-marula bushveld, mixed acacia thicket, combretun-silver clusterleaf, woodland on granite, and riverine forest. There are four regions within the park, each offering a different experience. The central region, for example, is home to nearly half of the park’s lion population, as well as hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards. The far north region is notable for its rare birdlife and sandstone formations, and is a great place to see the knocking sand frog, endangered wild dog, and the Natal red hare, among others.
Overall, the Kruger National Park and the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land offer an incredible experience of Africa at its most wild and are a must-visit for any nature lover.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains is a popular tourist destination located in South Africa, known for its spectacular beauty and rich wildlife. The area is also home to some of the most exclusive and luxurious game reserves in the country, including the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve covers an area of 65,000 hectares and is located on the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park. It shares a border with the Kruger National Park, but there are no fences between the two reserves, allowing wildlife to roam freely. The reserve is named after the Sabie and Sand rivers that flow in and around it, and is made up of several luxury lodges and smaller reserves.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve is home to the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros), as well as a wide variety of other wildlife such as zebra, aardvark, caracal, African wild cat, spotted hyena, hippopotamus, genet, civet, impala, pangolin, wild dog, blue wildebeest, warthog, side-striped and black-backed jackal, vervet monkey, and baboon. There are also around 500 different species of birds in the area.
Game drives at Sabi Sands are a must-do activity, whether they take place in the morning, late afternoon, or at night. These drives are led by experienced rangers who share their knowledge and expertise with those on safari. Watching the wildlife as they cross the beams of the safari vehicle’s headlights during night drives is a truly breathtaking experience.
The lodges and bush camps in Sabi Sands offer a luxurious and opulent experience for visitors. From large lodges ideal for families and groups, to intimate and exclusive getaways for honeymooners, there is something for everyone. Each establishment is designed to make guests feel pampered, with top-notch service and amenities.
The best time to visit Sabi Sands Game Reserve is between May and September, when the weather is cooler and the vegetation tends to thin out, making it easier to see the wildlife. To get to the reserve, there are daily scheduled flights, private air charters, road transfers, or self-driven road access. A stay of two to three nights (or longer) is recommended to fully appreciate all that Sabi Sands has to offer.
With a range of accommodation options within the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, it’s easy to find the perfect place to stay. Whether you prefer self-catering, B&B style, or fully catered luxury lodges, there are options available. Browse through our Sabi Sands Accommodation search facility to find the perfect place to stay and make your booking directly with the venue.
Leopard Creek Golf Estate
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is a popular destination for adventure-seekers and tourists alike, and the Leopard Creek Golf Estate is one of the area’s most notable attractions. As South Africa’s best wildlife and safari golfing experience, the Leopard Creek Golf Course is situated just along the border of the Kruger National Park, separated only by the curving crocodile river.
Despite being in an arid habitat, the golf course is far from scrubby and arid. In fact, it boasts some of the lushest and finest playing surfaces in the country, thanks to the efforts of Johann Rupert and his team who spared no cost in creating this unique golfing experience.
The lush green surfaces and white sculpted bunkers are protected from the local wildlife through innovative architecture and landscaping, making it a safe and enjoyable experience for golfers. However, hazards at Leopard Creek take on a new meaning with the sightings of crocodiles, hippos, antelopes, buffalo, and even elephants being a common occurrence. This makes it a dream come true for safari enthusiasts.
The golf course is designed by the legendary Gary Player and features a parklands layout measuring 6665m. The fairways are covered with svelte Kikuyu grass and the greens with Bent grass, adding to the already picturesque setting. Player is particularly fond of the 18th hole, which ends with an island green, and the 9th hole, which includes a peninsula green.
Leopard Creek is reserved for guests and members, with limited bookings available. It’s recommended to book your accommodation in Malelane and your tee-off time in advance to avoid disappointment. The facilities at Leopard Creek are of the highest standard, including a clubhouse with memorable views over the course and the Kruger National Park. Whether you’re a golfing enthusiast or a wildlife lover, the Leopard Creek Golf Estate is a must-visit destination during your trip to the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land.
Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail
The Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail is a must-visit destination for tourists interested in the history of our planet and geological wonders. This self-drive route, officially known as the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail, is a 38 km journey through ancient rock formations that date back to over three billion years, during the Archaean period. This period offers a glimpse into a world where the sun was pale, the atmosphere was toxic, there was no vegetation, and volcanic eruptions and torrential downpours were frequent.
What sets this geotrail apart from others is its accessibility and proximity to civilization. The rocks of the Archaean period are not only visible, but also conveniently located next to the road, making it an easy destination for tourists to explore. The geotrail features 11 geosites, each with an information board and braille labels, that describe the different geological elements, including a 3.2 billion year-old beach deposit, fossilized biomats in sandstone, piles of volcanic pillows, and volcanic hailstones preserved in chert sediments.
The geotrail follows the R40 from Barberton to Josefsdal and south to Bulembu, at the Swaziland border. It is a part of the larger Genesis Route, a figure-of-8 road route that links Barberton, Badplaas, and Low’s Creek, stretching for 260 km. The route can be explored on a self-drive tour or with a guided tour led by environmentalist and author Tony Ferrar.
Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail is an unparalleled opportunity for tourists to learn about the geological history of our planet and explore some of the most ancient rocks in the world. These rocks, contained in the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, are known as the Barberton Greenstone Belt by geologists, and are truly a “history of our planet cast in stone.”
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is not only renowned for its ancient rock formations, but also its rich history and cultural heritage. The town of Barberton is a perfect example of this, with its roots dating back to the 19th century when it was a hub for the gold and mining industries.
One way to experience this rich history is through the Heritage Walk, a self-guided tour of the town’s most significant historical and cultural landmarks. Visitors can collect a map at the tourist information center or the Local History Museum, which is a great starting point for any tour of Barberton. The museum showcases the establishment of the town, as well as its geological and cultural history.
Some of the highlights of the Heritage Walk include the Blockhouse, a British-style blockhouse dating back to 1901; Belhaven House Museum, a preserved home that reflects the lifestyle of a typical wealthy middle-class family of the early 1900s; Rimer’s Creek, a popular hotspot for miners and barmaids during the gold rush; Stopforth House, a family home furnished with original furniture and accessories; The Barberton Club, where the town’s wealthiest and influential men once gathered; The Phoenix Hotel, built in 1886 and rumored to have even hosted President Paul Kruger; Market Square, where businessmen and diggers would meet to trade; The statue of Jock of the Bushveld, a tribute to the famous and loyal companion of Percy Fitzpatrick; The Steam Locomotive, built in 1898 and a prime example of the locomotives used during the gold rush; The War Memorial; The Magistrates’ Court, completed in 1911 and known for its opulent fireplaces and terraces; and the Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to the soldiers and others who lost their lives in the Anglo-Boer War.
This self-guided tour offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors, allowing them to step back in time and learn about the town’s rich heritage and cultural roots.
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and what better way to experience it than by taking a skydive? Adventure Skydives in Nelspruit offers a range of skydiving options to suit all levels of experience and bravery, from static line and accelerated freefall to tandem and display jumping. Whether you’re an experienced jumper looking for a new thrill, or a first-timer eager to experience the thrill of freefall, Adventure Skydives has something to offer.
For those new to skydiving, the tandem skydive is the perfect introduction. A qualified Tandem master will guide you through every step of the experience, from the initial briefing to the 40-second freefall. The jump takes place from an altitude of 10,000ft, giving you breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape before the parachute is deployed and you safely return to earth.
Adventure Skydives also offers corporate events, making it the perfect team-building activity for companies looking for a unique and exciting way to bond and build camaraderie. With a wealth of experience, the Adventure Skydives team is second to none in parachuting and has skydived all over the world.
So, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a new thrill, or a first-timer eager to experience the thrill of freefall, Adventure Skydives in Nelspruit offers an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land.
The Barberton Museum is a treasure trove of history and information about the Barberton area and its rich past. Visitors to the museum can learn about the geology, mining, and general history of the region through its diverse exhibitions and collections. The museum complex consists of several museums, each offering unique insights into different aspects of Barberton’s past. The Main Museum displays the geology, mining, and general history of the area, while the Belhaven, Stopforth House, Fernlea Museums, and Block House offer a glimpse into the lifestyle and cultural heritage of the town.
The museum’s collection is a testament to the town’s rich history, from its early days as a gold rush town to its current status as a charming country town. In 1998, a local collector named Mr. Otto Elkan donated a large collection of mining specimens and historical mining items to the museum, which helped establish its collection. Today, the Barberton Museum is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone looking to learn more about the region’s past. Whether you’re interested in geology, mining, or local history, the Barberton Museum has something to offer everyone.
Ebutsini 4×4 Trail
The Ebutsini 4×4 Trail offers a unique experience for those looking to explore the breathtaking beauty of South Africa’s outdoors. Situated between the Songimvelo Nature Reserve and the border of Swaziland, this trail is a mere 55 kilometers from eManzana and is perfect for sightseers who appreciate the magnificence of nature.
The 30-kilometer trail has a grading of 2 to 3 and takes between four to five hours to complete. It is a circular trail that offers a mix of terrain, including stream crossings, muddy areas, rocky mountainous parts, and gravel service roads. While some parts of the trail may pose a challenge for drivers, it is primarily a self-drive course, though guides are available for larger groups upon prior arrangement.
One of the highlights of the Ebutsini 4×4 Trail is its picturesque route, showcasing stunning landscapes and views from various viewpoints. The area is also home to several villages, offering visitors a glimpse into the rural side of South Africa. With lush vegetation and a rich variety of wildlife species, including numerous bird species, the trail is a nature lover’s paradise.
Starting at the Ekulindeni Tourism Centre, the Ebutsini 4×4 Trail is not just a great way for visitors to experience the beauty of South Africa’s countryside but also supports the local community. This community initiative was created to uplift the community and promote job creation, so by taking part in this 4×4 excursion, visitors are also contributing to the betterment of the lives of the people in the area.
For those seeking a more challenging experience, the obstacle course may be a better option. However, it should only be attempted by advanced drivers with well-equipped 4×4 vehicles and proper recovery equipment.
The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is easily accessible, located just four hours from Johannesburg and 7.5 hours from Durban, both of which have large international airports. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain Land is an even more exciting reason to visit Mpumalanga and experience its breathtaking beauty, rich cultural history, and thrilling activities.