Mounands Nature Reserve

Mountainlands Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa

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Mountainlands Nature Reserve, located in the Makhonjwa Mountains above Barberton, is a treasured and deeply interesting series of mountains that stretch from the Lochiel Plateau to the Nelspruit and Komatipoort

Mounands Nature Reserve

Mountainlands Nature Reserve, located in the Makhonjwa Mountains above Barberton, is a treasured and deeply interesting series of mountains that stretch from the Lochiel Plateau to the Nelspruit and Komatipoort area, straddling the border with Swaziland. The hills it describes are rocky, and deeply incised with forested valleys, moist, grassy ridges and plateaus. The reserve is considered to have Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), geologically – the area contains the oldest well-preserved sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks on Earth. These Archaean rocks are easily accessible and provide an unparalleled repository of scientific information about early Earth.

The ancient rocks are unusually well-preserved in the reserve. Although not entirely unaltered, most of the 350-million-year-old rocks still have original components intact, which has the geological and scientific communities equally excited. Barberton’s Mountainlands Reserve lies within these mountains, 4 km outside Barberton. The 18,000 hectare wilderness lies on the rim of the De Kaap Valley and is included in the Geo Trail, a tourist route designed to guide visitors through the highlights of the Mountainlands, stopping at various Geo Sites en route.

Mountainlands Nature Reserve offers game viewing, fresh air, solitude, and a wilderness experience. Some of the highlights include breeding black storks in the mountains above the reserve, reintroduced leopards, horsetail (Equisetum ramoisissimum)- the only species of Equisetum in southern Africa, rare and beautiful plants and butterflies, and the flap-necked chameleon (easiest to spot on night drives). For bird spotters, the reserve promises specials like the buff-streaked chat, long-billed pipit, Narina trogon, half-collared kingfisher (near streams) and Drakensberg prinia.

Kruger National Park

But the natural beauty and diversity of the area don’t stop there. The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Israel. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometres (20 000 square kilometres) from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience. Certainly, it ranks with the best in Africa and is the flagship of the country’s national parks – rated as the ultimate safari experience. Lying in the heart of the Lowveld is a wildlife sanctuary like no other, its atmosphere so unique that it allows those who enter its vastness to immerse themselves in the unpredictability and endless wilderness that is the true quality of Africa.

The Kruger National Park lies across the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the north of South Africa, just south of Zimbabwe and west of Mozambique. It now forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – a peace park that links Kruger National Park with game parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and fences are already coming down to allow game to freely roam in much the way it would have in the time before man’s intervention. When complete, the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park will extend across 35 000 square kilometres, 58% of it South African, 24% Mozambican and 18% Zimbabwean territory.

The Kruger Park is home to the Big Five, the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion and rhino beetle), the birding Big Six (ground hornbill, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, pel’s fishing owl and saddle-bill stork) and more species of mammals than any other African Game Reserve. The Kruger Park is a self-drive destination, although there are guided tour operators, with an excellent infrastructure that includes picnic sites, rest camps, waterholes and hides. The Kruger Park is a remarkable reserve offering an incredible experience of Africa at its most wild.

Leopard Creek Golf Estate

Another must-see attraction for those who love the outdoors and a round of golf is the Leopard Creek Golf Estate. The Leopard Creek Golf Course is, hands down, South Africa’s best wildlife / safari golfing experience. The course actually borders the Kruger National Park, separated by nothing less than the curving crocodile river. The emerald green surfaces and white sculpted bunkers are naturally protected from the resident wildlife through innovative architecture and landscaping. That said, hazards at Leopards Creek certainly take on a new meaning with sightings of crocodile, hippo, antelope, buffalo and elephant being all too common. A dream for the safari enthusiast! Leopards Creek is another of the Gary Player designed courses and the old master chose to go with a parklands layout measuring in at 6665m. Fairways are coated in a svelte Kikuyu and the greens with Bent. Player is particularly fond of his 18th that ends off with an island green as well as the 9th that includes a peninsula green. Visitors are limited as the course is reserved for guests and members but limited bookings are available. Book your accommodation in Malelane and your tee-off ahead to avoid disappointment. The facilities are absolutely of the highest standard and include a clubhouse that will leave memorable views over the course and the Kruger National Park.

For those interested in the history of the region, Barberton Museum is a great place to visit. Learn about geology and mining history and the general history of the Barberton area by paying a visit to this very interesting museum in Barberton. The Barberton Museum consists of the Main Museum (where the geology, mining and general history of the region are on show). Other museums that are part of the Barberton Museum complex include Belhaven, Stopforth House and Fernlea Museums as well as Block House.

Barberton Heritage Walk

The town of Barberton also offers a Heritage Walk, a self-guided tour of the historical and cultural delights of Barberton. The map can be collected at the tourist information centre or the Local History Museum, which is a great starting point for any tour of the town. Attractions included on the Heritage Walk are The Blockhouse, Belhaven House Museum, The Gilbert Gikes and Gordon Turbine, Rimer’s Creek, Stopforth House, The Barberton Club, The Phoenix Hotel, Market Square, the statue of Jock of the Bushveld, The Steam Locomotive, The War Memorial, The Magistrates’ Court, and The Garden of Remembrance.

  • The Blockhouse
    The Blockhouse, a 1901 building that was one of the first British-style blockhouses in the country, built to protect the concentration camp and military hospital.
  • Belhaven House Museum
    Belhaven House Museum, a preserved home that reflects the lifestyle of a typical wealthy middle-class family of the early 1900s.
  • The Gilbert Gikes and Gordon Turbine
    The Gilbert Gikes and Gordon Turbine, manufactured in England and installed in 1931, it has been reinstalled in its original building for the museum.
  • Rimer’s Creek
    Rimer’s Creek, a popular hotspot for miners and barmaids during the gold rush, full of fun tales and folklore.
  • Stopforth
    Stopforth House, furnished with the original furniture and accessories of the Stopforth family, built in 1886, that continues to delight visitors.
  • Barberton Club
    The Barberton Club, a meeting place for the men of the town and known for being the hub for local millionaires.
  • Phoenix Hotel
    The Phoenix Hotel, built in 1886 and one of the most popular hotels in the area, where President Paul Kruger is said to have stayed.
  • Market Square
    Market Square, where businessmen and diggers would meet, with farmers displaying their goods.
  • Statue of Jock of the Bushveld
    The statue of Jock of the Bushveld, honoring the famous and loyal companion of Percy Fitzpatrick.
  • Steam Locomotive
    The Steam Locomotive, built in 1898 and an excellent example of the locomotives used during the gold rush.
  • Magistrates’ Court
    The Magistrates’ Court, completed in 1911, known for its opulent fireplaces and terraces.
  • Garden of Remembrance
    The Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to those British soldiers and others who lost their lives in the Anglo-Boer War.

The Heritage Walk provides an opportunity to explore the town’s rich history and gain a deeper understanding of its past. Visitors can explore the various historical sites and landmarks at their own pace and learn about the cultural and geological history of Barberton.

Samora Machel Monument

Finally, for a more somber and reflective experience, the Samora Machel Monument is a must-visit. This monument was erected in memory of the late Mozambican president, Samora Machel, who died when his aeroplane crashed nearby, in the Lebombo Mountains, in 1986. The monument consists of 35 steel pillars – one to represent each life lost in the crash. The monument was unveiled by late South African president, Nelson Mandela, and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in January 1999. The memorial was upgraded and a museum added in 2009, when it was opened to the public.

In conclusion, the Mountainlands Nature Reserve is a treasure trove of natural beauty, geological significance and wildlife, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable wilderness experience. The reserve is located in the Makhonjwa Mountains above Barberton, and is considered to have Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) geologically, as it contains the oldest well-preserved sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks on Earth. Visitors can enjoy game viewing, fresh air, solitude and a wilderness experience, as well as the chance to spot rare and beautiful plants and animals such as black storks, leopards, horsetail and the flap-necked chameleon.






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