Did you know?
Because of its ancient geology, Barberton is a mecca for international research scientists.
Mpumalanga’s historic little town of Barberton, cradled by the Makhonjwa Mountains – the oldest mountains on earth – is the starting point for a range of walks and trails in the area. You’ll find it difficult to decide which of the walks and trails to choose, because there's an astonishing variety of hiking for such a small area.
Barberton is home to the Genesis of Life – sites in the Makhonjwa Mountains where a sequence of the oldest and best preserved volcanic and sedimentary rocks on earth are to be found. Hike back through 3.5-billion years and marvel at stromatolites and biomats – the first microfossil evidence of life on this planet. As local geologist guides point out important geological features, be sure to take in the awesome natural beauty of the area with its abundant plant, animal and bird life.
If it's human history that fascinates you, then take the Heritage Walk through the town itself. Once a hub of rowdy activity during the 1880s when the gold rush was at its height, you can still trace the footsteps of the miners and explore the town's early history as you walk past original 19th-century kerbstones, the impressive Town Hall and South Africa's first stock exchange.
You can also visit a working gold mine – over a 100 years old – or, if you want to stretch your legs further and are reasonably fit, take to the hills on the Old Coach Road Mountain Hike. It’s only 5km, but takes approximately three hours because you'll be tackling some steep terrain.
There's also a 2km circular hike that skirts the town and goes through the old mining tunnel that was blasted through the mountain to transport gold-bearing rock to the Fortuna Mine.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Barberton Community Tourism
Tel: +27 (0) 13 712 2880
Cell: +27 (0) 82 970 9188
How to get here
Barberton is 50km south of Nelspruit on the R40, about a three-hour drive from Johannesburg.
Best time to visit
Barberton has a great temperate climate with lots of sunshine so any time of year is good.
Around the area
Kaapshehoop, Nelspruit, Sudwala Caves and White River are all in the area. The Kruger National Park is less than 100km away.
What will it cost
The Old Coach Road Hiking Trail is R25 per person. Prior reservation essential at the Old Coach Road Guesthouse.
What to pack
Sturdy hiking boots or walking shoes, sunhat, sunscreen, insect repellant and binoculars.
Where to stay
Some of the old tin-roofed miners’ cottages have been lovingly restored and now offer B&B. Visit the Barberton Tourism website for more information. An alternative is the lovely Old Coach Road Guesthouse.
The SA National Para Gliders Championships is held here annually in June.
If you can afford it, beautiful jewellery from the oldest gold in the world is on sale at the artisans’ workshop next door to the Barberton Museum.