Below the Surface | Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail
The Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail, a 38km self drive exploration trail that runs up the scenic Bulembu pass to Swaziland, is South Africa’s newest tourism landmark initiative that has the world talking.
By Benno Stander
For decades now scientists from all over the world have been scratching around the mountains behind the town of Barberton and most of us were blissfully unaware of what they were on about. The time spent exploring the geology was all but a waste as discovery after discovery were brought to the surface.
Some of the rock formations on the Barberton Mountains are from the Archaean period that date back as far as 3.2 to 3.57 billion years
Some of the rock formations on the Barberton Mountains are from the Archaean period that date back as far as 3.2 to 3.57 billion years and according to the clever folks, these rocks have a lot to say about where we come from. What they discovered in these mountains has become known as the history of our planet cast in stone. There are only a few places on earth where rocks of this period are visible and all the other sites are hidden away far from civilisation in barren landscapes. In Barberton these geological wonders can be found just outside the established little town right next to the road, making exploring something like a walk in the park.
For many years though this world class find was enjoyed only by elite few who knew what to look for and what it all meant. But thanks to a few locals with vision, the unique history of life on earth, as it is captured in these rock formations, can now be enjoyed by everyone who is able to take a 38km drive out of town.
The first of 11 sites is situated just 2.4km outside of Barberton and offers a view of the border of the Barberton Greenstone Belt. At the Lebombo /Makhonjwa View, 25.3km outside of Barberton, there is even a braille panel that outlines the whole story of the greenstone belt. This is followed by a sequence of textured rocks with braille labels that realise through touch, some of the key geological elements of the trail.
Each site was carefully built with rocks and paved and contains detailed and colourful illustrations and explanations of the geological significance of the area. The explanations are easy to understand even though it covers some of the most complex geological findings on earth. The views from this mountain range are simple spectacular and with the vast outstretched landscapes in front of you, one cannot help but feel incredibly small, while trying to get your head around the billions of years that they have been there.
Talk to us
To find out more about the Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail. The trail can be done as a self drive or guided tour. Information regarding guides and guide books can be found on the website.
Video produced by SANHU Productions. Contact SANHU on +27 82 879 8889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.