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Barberton 2021

23 to 25 July 2021


Mpumalanga is renowned for its birding and the Genesis Route is no exception. Over 350 different species of birds have been identified along the Genesis Route, mainly around the Gold Rush town of Barberton.

The greater Barberton area is one of the most intriguing tourist destinations in South Africa. History and the scenic beauty and natural wonders of the surrounding mountains, known as the Makhonjwa, are its defining features.

History of a more incredible kind can be experienced by following the Geotrail along the Saddleback Pass that winds for 40 kilometres up the mountainside from Barberton to the Josefsdal-Bulembu border post with Swaziland. It has a series of lay-bys with excellent interpretive panels and rock samples that paint a picture of the Earth’s surface more than 3.2 billion years ago, including minute strips of fossils left by organisms that might represent the beginnings of life on our planet.


Birding on the pass can be very rewarding. Stands of Proteas hold Gurney’s Sugarbird, Greater Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds. Areas of rank grass in the valley are good for Broad-tailed Warbler and Buff-streaked Chat and Cape Rock-Thrush can be found in rocky areas. African Crowned Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and African Goshawk can sometimes be seen soaring overhead. Flanking the road are two nature reserves that incorporate the scenic beauty and the natural attributes that are responsible for the region’s classification as a Centre of Plant Endemism and an Important Bird Area.

The small 60-hectare oasis of indigenous woodland known as Peddlar’s Bush, set amongst the pine plantations outside Barberton, is a birder’s paradise. There is a lot of bracken fern growing alongside the road which winds through the pine forest, with Swee Waxbill, Cape Canary and Drakensberg Prinia being seen regularly. Entering the indigenous forest, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon and Trumpeter Hornbill are usually heard first, and as one descends to the bottom of the forest plateau, other forest birds such as Olive Bush-Shrike, Square-tailed Drongo and Chorister Robin-Chat soon join in the chorus. White-starred Robin, Brown Scrub-Robin, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Orange Ground-Thrush and Grey Cuckooshrike are other forest specials to look out for. Lemon Dove are often flushed from the forest floor and Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Olive Woodpecker are easily heard. The bottom of the forest stretch is a very good place for Bush Blackcap and Barratt’s Warbler. Forest Buzzard occurs near the pine plantations.

The birding trail at Rimer’s Creek was established by the Barberton Birding Club due to the large number of species found in this small area. Rimer’s Creek is an area of riverine forest and is home to at least 100 different species of birds. These include the Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike and Eastern Nicator.

We spend two nights on a charming Guest Farm, situated a few kilometres from Barberton.

Aloe Ridge

In the words of the owners: “More than 230 bird species have been identified on the property. Birdlife on the farm is actively promoted, by the planting of bird attracting trees and other plants. Re-vegetation of the old lands is also underway using trees and shrubs found in the area and if possible taken from plants on the property. This is an on-going task, and we are involved with the “Working for Water” project in reducing the infestations of these aliens.”

Habitats on the farm include the beautiful gardens, grassland, savannah, bush (Sourveld) and rocky ridges and the birdlife is interesting and varied. A pair of Spotted-Eagle Owls roost in a tree in front of the house. Purple-crested Turaco, Golden-breasted Bunting, Bearded Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Greater and Lesser Honeyguides and Brubru are some of the birds to look out for.


The 3-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive


Day 1

Date : July 23, 2021


Depart from Johannesburg bright and early.
Travel via Carolina and Badplaas to Barberton, arriving early afternoon.
Overnight at Guest Farm.

Day 2

Date : July 24, 2021

Barberton and surrounds

Days spent game viewing and birding around Barberton.
Overnight at Guest Farm.

Day 3

Date : July 25, 2021


Early morning birding on farm.
Depart after brunch for home, arriving mid-afternoon.


The cost includes transport, all meals and accommodation, guiding and entrance fees.


All you would need to pay for would be alcoholic beverages, gratuities, and items of a personal nature.

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