Barberton born and bred, owner of the iconic Barberton restaurant ‘The Cocopan’, and the town’s tourist agency ‘Barberton Odyssey’; it is fair to say Andrea Botha’s life revolves around Barberton.
It only takes a few minutes of speaking with David to realise that he is a man who wears many different ‘hats’. A geologist by training, he now runs the Aloe Ridge Guest Farm with his wife Anne. A 66 hectare once derelict property that they transformed into a beautiful guest house with a garden any bird lover would die for. Over 260 bird species are officially listed on the property. Mainly as a result of David’s insistence that they only plant bird attracting plants, although Anne has managed to sneak in the odd Aloe or three. Aloe Ridge truly is a birder’s paradise.
A Belgian Restaurant in Barberton might not be what you initially expect to find in this quaint Gold Rush town. But like the best hidden treasures, once you have found it you will never forget it!
Around every corner of the Genesis Route you will find a brown sign pointing out one of the great things to see and do in the area. Of all the signs I have followed while exploring the route, it is the one pointing into the Nkomazi Game Reserve on the R38 that had me most intrigued.
All Photo's were taken by Roger Horrock
The ‘Stone Garden’ of Nukain Mabuza may have faded in the 34 years since his death. The grass is a little overgrown and the paint is flaking from exposure to the elements. Yet there is still a magic vibrancy about this very special place. A feeling you get, as you cast your eyes over his painted stones, that this was and will be again a great monument to outsider artists.
Mpumalanga and the Genesis Route has so much to offer, but if you are looking for something unique and fun for all the family then Vygeboom Dam is your place!
It is the people that make Mpumalanga great and Rassie Schoeman is no exception. Owner of Eco Quads Adventures, Oppikoppi Inni krater accommodation and Oppidam House Boats, Rassie has invested in the Genesis Route and is passionate about promoting it. When asked what he does with his days his wife Valerie is quick to answer that he can be found 32 days a month captaining a boat on his beloved Vygeboom dam. When he is not sailing he is exploring the country with his wife in his motorhome, ensuring they stop at every farm stall, town and potential attraction along the way. Their knowledge of South Africa is encyclopaedic yet its Barberton and Badplaas that they call home, making Rassie the perfect person to help uncover Badplaas.
Part of the Wild Frontier Route takes you along the N4 from Kaapmuiden to Komatipoort, travelling along the route a number of things stand out. The breath-taking scenery, the iconic wildlife and the vast array of things to do, but perhaps most notable of all is the fascinating characters you meet along the way.
The beauty of the Genesis Route is that it is one of Mpumalanga’s best kept secrets. It is not overrun by tour groups, fighting for the best vantage point to snap a selfie. Yet it should be! As there truly is something for everybody and each destination is as magnificent as the one before.