Mpumalanga’s Wild Frontier region is a hidden gem in South Africa that is a must-see destination for nature and history enthusiasts. Located in the southeastern part of Mpumalanga Province, this region is bordered by Mozambique, Swaziland, and the southern tip of the Kruger National Park.
One of the region’s biggest attractions is the Kruger National Park, which is one of the largest game reserves in the world. The park is known for its diverse wildlife and nature conservation efforts. In recent years, the park has even begun to lower fences that separate it from neighboring reserves to increase the chance of spotting game. Visitors can enjoy game drives and guided tours to see the park’s impressive wildlife up close.
Apart from Kruger, the Wild Frontier region is home to several historic towns like Barberton, Komatipoort, Kaapmuiden, and Badplaas, amongst others. Barberton is a fascinating reminder of the gold rush days, and its well-preserved historic buildings are worth exploring. Komatipoort is a major Southern African crossroad that links diverse communities and cultures.
The Wild Frontier region also holds rich historical sentiments for the people of Mozambique, because of the Samora Machel monument. The monument was erected in a small village in the region where his plane crashed.
The Wild Frontier is also known as the cradle of life, thanks to the archaeological discoveries dating back more than three billion years. Visitors can explore the Mkonjwa mountains, which are said to be one of the oldest in the world and are a testament to the region’s rich geological history.
One of the most exciting things about the Wild Frontier region is that visitors can visit three countries in just one day: Swaziland, Mozambique, and South Africa. This makes it an ideal destination for travelers who want to explore different cultures and customs.
The town of Barberton, situated in the heart of the Wild Frontier region, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and historical significance. The Makhonjwa Mountainlands in which it is nestled is one of the oldest regions on earth and a core part of a World Heritage Site. Visitors to the town have access to a variety of accommodation options, including quaint bed and breakfasts and guest houses.
Barberton is home to some of the oldest sedimentary rock formations in the world, with the hills of the De Kaap Valley having been picked bare by treasure hunters over centuries. Despite this, the wildness of the area remains, with a heady mix of indigenous riverine and mountain forests, savannah, bushveld, and crystal-clear streams.
The town is an ideal base for exploring the many nature and wildlife reserves that can be found within a 12-kilometer radius, as well as the world-renowned Kruger National Park, which is only an hour away. Visitors can take advantage of numerous hiking routes, some of which include picnic areas, or engage in a variety of adventure sports such as paragliding, microlight flying, 4×4 mountain trails, mountain biking, quad biking, and horse riding.
Barberton’s history as a relic of the gold fever that gripped the Lowveld in the 1880s is still evident in many of the old buildings that still stand today. The discovery of Barber’s Reef, which was supposedly so rich in gold that it literally sparkled, by Graham Barber and his cousins was the start of the town’s long history of gold and silver mining. Visitors can explore this rich history at museums such as Belhaven, Fernlea House, and Stopforth House, all of which depict life in the early days of Barberton.
In addition to its rich history, Barberton is also known for its verdite deposits, which are found in the rocks of the Barberton district. The only known verdite deposits in the world, verdite in powdered form has been used by traditional healers for hundreds of years to promote fertility. The Fortuna Mine Trail, located in the hills above Barberton, provides a glimpse into the hardships endured by prospectors in their search for gold.
Barberton is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the Wild Frontier region.
Blyde River Canyon
The Wild Frontier region of South Africa is home to many popular tourist destinations, and one of the most impressive of these is the Blyde River Canyon Reserve. This area is known for its stunning natural beauty, which is best experienced through the Panorama Route. This scenic route is aptly named, as it offers visitors panoramic views over the Klein Drakensberg escarpment and the Blyde River Canyon.
One of the most notable features of the Blyde River Canyon is its size. In fact, it is considered one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may even be the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical covering. Visitors to the canyon can take in the magnificent views from several viewpoints, each of which is named for the spectacle it offers. Some of the most popular viewpoints include God’s Window and Wonder View.
There are several other notable landmarks within the Blyde River Canyon Reserve, including the Pinnacle and the Three Rondavels. The Pinnacle is a single quartzite column rising out of the deep wooded canyon, while the Three Rondavels are three huge spirals of dolomite rock rising out of the far wall of the canyon. Visitors can also witness one of the most phenomenal geological phenomena in South Africa at the meeting point of the Blyde River and the Treur River. Here, water erosion has created the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which are strange cylindrical sculptures carved by swirling water.
The Blyde River Canyon Reserve is also known for its waterfalls, which are beautiful to look at and many of which can be visited. Some of these waterfalls are hidden deep within some of the largest man-made forestry plantations in the world, which feature rows upon rows of pine and eucalyptus trees.
The plant life within the Blyde River Canyon Reserve is rich and varied, thanks to the extreme climate, range of altitudes, and various soil conditions. This variety of plant life supports an equally rich and varied fauna. Visitors to the reserve may spot klipspringer and dassies finding food and shelter in rocky areas, grey rhebuck and the rare oribi in the grassland, and kudu in the wooded bushveld. The reserve is also home to all five of South Africa’s primates, including the somango monkey, nocturnal greater and lesser bushbabies, chacma baboons, and vervet monkeys.
Hippopotamus and crocodile live in and around the rivers and wetlands of Swadini Dam, as do waterbirds and otters. The reserve is a haven for birdwatchers, as almost every type of habitat that attracts birds is found within its borders. Visitors may even spot all three South African species of Loerie during their stay.
The Blyde River Canyon Reserve is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Wild Frontier region of South Africa. With its breathtaking natural beauty, diverse flora and fauna, and numerous points of interest, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
The Wild Frontier region is an excellent destination for those who want to experience the beauty of South Africa’s natural wonders and rich history. With its diverse wildlife, well-preserved historic towns, and proximity to neighboring countries, this region is an adventure waiting to be explored.