Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainland – A First World Heritage Site for Mpumalanga


Having been recognised as South Africa’s tenth World Heritage site and a first for the province of Mpumalanga; the glorious Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainland has recently been inscribed as a new World Heritage Site. In a ceremony during the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee, hosted in Manama under the chair of Shaikha Haya Bint Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Mpumalanga’s Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainland became South Africa's next proud recipient of the title of World Heritage Site.

In recognition of its outstanding international importance attributed by its cultural, geological and ecological significance, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainland will now be protected and preserved by efforts as administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Located in Mpumalanga’s Wild Frontier as part of the Kruger Lowveld, the heritage site comprises 40 percent of what is also referred to as the Barberton Greenstone Belt. Home to an abundance of superlative natural phenomena the area represents major stages of the earth’s history as well as extraordinary natural beauty, ecological diversity and one of the world’s oldest geological structures.

Offering some of the best-preserved successions of volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back 3.25 to 3.6 billion years, the area also features meteor-impact fallback breccias resulting from the impact of meteorites formed just after the Great Bombardment (4.6 to 3.8 billion years ago).

The site reflects a striking representation of when continents first began to form on primitive earth and is a prime example of the ongoing process of ecological and biological evolution of plants and animals.

With the hopes to forge further tourism to the area by way of both local and international visitors, the area welcomes guests to various travel and tourism attractions including;

  • Large and small nature reserves
  • Adventure tourism
  • Geological highlights
  • Prolific birding and wildlife
  • Cultural tours
  • Leisure and outdoor sporting activities

From the De Kaap Valley to the town of Barberton the area is host to various types and graded accommodations as well as adventure and leisure activities. Discover the Mountainlands Nature Reserve that boasts beautiful African sunsets, unspoilt natural splendour, wildlife and bird watching, or explore mining tours, gold panning and a guided Heritage Walk through the historical town of Barberton and, with some of the world’s most exquisite hiking trails and adventure mountain biking the Barberton Makhonjwa caters to an exhilarating playground for the active and energetic.

Visitors can also explore the area by way of adventure quad biking or even put their off road driving skills to the test at the Eureka City and various other 4x4 adventure tours in the surrounds. For the adrenaline junkies in search for their next thrill, paraglide or para motor with the mighty Makhonjwa Mountains as your backdrop or enjoy an eye-opening self-guided tour along the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail.

Thrilled with the recent World Heritage site status, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) aims to continue to add more to the variety of product offerings in the province while creating awareness in local communities about the unique tourism offering and its significance to the province.


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