Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain: A World Heritage Site

Rising to 1800 meters above sea level, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains has become UNESCO famous. In July 2018 the mountain range which makes up 40% of the Barberton Greenstone Belt was inducted at the 42nd United Nations Educational‚ Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Committee‚ meeting in Bahrain.

Also, known as the Barberton Mountain Land or just as the Makhonjwa Mountains, it is a range of small to medium hills and mountains that cover about 80% of the Mpumalanga province.

Mpumalanga is one of the more beautiful provinces in South Africa. Because of the vast stretches of nature with an abundance of wildlife, the region is one of the most beautiful places in the country. The literal translation of the name Mpumalanga from the Swazi, Xhosa, Ndebele and Zulu languages is “the land of the rising sun”. The mountains only add to the incredible landscape further lifting Mpumalanga as an iconic location.

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains has achieved its place as world heritage site thanks to containing the oldest and best preserved sedimentary and volcanic rock. These layers of rock date back from before the continents even existed and are estimated to be as old as 3.6 billion years. In addition to that, it is also said to have the oldest fossilized bacteria which is determined to be 3.1 billion years old.

At the mountain ranges, Eastern Border is the Kaapvaal Craton which is the oldest piece of Earth crust from the Archean period which contains evidence of some of the earliest processes of photosynthesis and provides a direct link proving Australia and Africa was a single land mass at one point.

Thanks to the incredible preservation of matter within the mountain range, scientists have been provided with insight into the hostile conditions on early earth that gave rise to life on the planet.  Because of that, the Barberton Mountains are nicknamed the “Genesis of Life”.

Along with the proof of life evidence, Early Stone Age artefacts dating back 1 million years have been discovered on the Songimvelo Game Reserve, which has attracted worldwide attention. We know that the mountain range was also home to early pastoral people who used the grassy plains to graze their livestock up until the 1860s.  This early settlement is supported by the numerous archaeological sites in the area which include walled, village-type ruins that have been dated back more than 1000 years. Additional evidence includes various San paintings to the theories on temples of Dravidian and Phoenician merchants and Egyptian slave traders.

The Barberton Mountain range and the town of Barberton are named after George Barber who started the gold rush in the area that led to the development of the town.

The history of the region is not the only reason UNESCO has elevated this site. It is one of the most exceptionally beautiful places on earth. The combination of rocky hills, rolling grass plains, valleys and forests along with the wide variety of wildlife has helped this location win its spot as a heritage site.

At Humala River Lodge you can explore all the nature that the Barberton Greenbelt has to offer with stunning game drives, birding, off-road trails and more.  You will also discover that the reserve is home to the Big 4 which are the African Elephant, Rhinoceros, Leopard and the Cape Buffalo. Built for adventure tourists, outdoor enthusiasts and families, there is plenty to see and do at the game reserve. Step back in time to explore the ancient land, caves and rock art.

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains and Humala River Lodge help you transform your outdoor experience into something special that is only made more special by the presence of the great Barberton Mountain Range. 

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