Mpumalanga Tourist AttractionsMountainlands Nature Reserve
Where? Mountainlands Nature Reserve, Barberton, Mpumalanga
The Mountainlands Nature Reserve is in the Makhonjwa Mountains above Barberton.
The term 'mountainland' was coined by geologists to refer to what is also known as the Barberton Greenstone Belt, or geologically-speaking – the Barberton Supergroup geological formation.
In layman's terms it is a deeply interesting and treasured series of mountains that stretch from the Lochiel Plateau to the Nelspruit-Komatipoort area, straddling the border with Swaziland. The hills it describes are rocky, and deeply incised with forested valleys and moist, grassy ridges and plateaus.
The mountainlands are considered to have Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), geologically - the area contains the oldest well preserved sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks on Earth. What is more these Archaean rocks are easily accessible and provide what is described as 'an unparalleled repository of scientific information about early Earth'.
More interestingly these ancient rocks are unusually well preserved. 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.
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.
Note: entering the reserve necessitates a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle.