Attractions
Lodges in or near Phophonyane Nature Reserve
Activities available in Phophonyane Nature Reserve

Region: Hhohho
Attraction Type: Landscape/Scenic, Wildlife

 

Phophonyane Nature Reserve

The nature reserve is part of the 600 ha Phophonyane Conservancy in the mountainous north-west of Swaziland. It falls within the Barberton Centre of Endemism, an area of global biodiversity significance. It occurs in the middleveld, where biodiversity is increasingly under risk from forestry and smallholder agriculture.

The central feature of the reserve is the Phophonyane Falls, a series of cascades and waterfalls which stretches for 3 kilometres and bisects the reserve along the geologically remarkable Phophonyane Shear Zone. The shear zone is the boundary between two continental blocks representing different environments within the earth’s crust. The boundary runs parallel to the Phophonyane River and separates the Barberton Greenstone Belt from the Ancient Gneiss complex. These rocks are some of the oldest rocks in the world and range from 3.2 to 3.55 billion years old. The term “Shear Zone” is used because a shear zone is essentially a tectonic fault which occurs sufficiently deep within the Earth’s crust and with sufficient heat that rocks deform in a ductile manner – like toothpaste. This is exposed in a spectacular fashion along the Phophonyane Falls.

The other main features of the reserve are the dramatic python cliffs which are formed of a large granite outcrop and the Mbevane Falls and stream which are flanked by an impressive riverine forest.
There is a network of well-maintained trails which lead to spectacular view points that sweep away to the Gobolondo and Makhonjwa mountain ranges and the distant horizon.

The flora and fauna of the reserve are characterized by a high level of biodiversity. More than 400 species of trees and 250 species of birds are found in the reserve and numerous species of mammals and reptiles. Notable among the bird species that are the commonly seen and heard are the narina trogon, gorgeous bush shrike, pink-throated twinspot, crowned hornbill, wood owl and crowned eagle. Among the mammals found in the reserve are bushbuck, vervet monkey, bushbaby, red duiker, bush pig, cape clawless otter, civet, caracal and serval.

The riverine forest is made up of large forest fever trees (Anthocleista), Matumi (Breonadia salicina), Waterberry (syzygium cordatum), and the Natal and Transvaal milkplums. Eight orchid species have been identified in the forest. The drier woodland areas are made up of various bushwillow species, coral tree (erethrina latissima), mitzeeri (bridelia micrantha), weeping lavender, tree fuchsia, forest silver oak (Brachylaena transvaalensis), cabbage trees (cussonia spicata), various species of figs, stinkwood (celtis Africana) interspersed with groves of lowveld chestnut.

The area is also abundant with many different types of wildlife, including birdlife. You can view a full list of bird species in this area by clicking here.

The waterfalls are flanked by large stands of euphorbia, aloe aborescens and the strange copper stem corkwood (commiphora harveyi) which grows on the steep shaded slopes.

Rock outcrops are found throughout the reserve with various species of aloes (aborescens, marlothi and spicata), mountain fig and kiaat (pterocarpus anglolensis).