Lebombo Mountains

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Lebombo Mountains
(Lubombo / Libombos)
Ghost mountain mkuze sunset.jpg
Part of the Lebombo mountain chain, including Ghost Mountain; seen from Mkuze
Highest point
Peak Mount Mananga
Elevation 776 m (2,546 ft)
Listing List of mountain ranges of South Africa
Coordinates 26°15′0″S 32°0′0″E / 26.25000°S 32.00000°E / -26.25000; 32.00000Coordinates: 26°15′0″S 32°0′0″E / 26.25000°S 32.00000°E / -26.25000; 32.00000
Length 800 km (500 mi) N/S
Width 100 km (62 mi) E/W
Lebombo Mountains is located in South Africa
Lebombo Mountains
Lebombo Mountains
Countries Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland
Orogeny Gondwanian
Age of rock Precambrian
Type of rock Rhyolite and basalt

The Lebombo Mountains, also called Lubombo Mountains (Portuguese: 'Montes Libombos'), are an 800 km-long (500 mi), narrow range of mountains in Southern Africa. They stretch from Hluhluwe in KwaZulu-Natal in the south to Punda Maria in the Limpopo Province in South Africa in the north. Part of the mountains are also found in Mozambique and Swaziland.


Geologically, the range is considered a monocline; part of a rifted volcanic margin.[1] The Lebombo monocline was aligned with the Explora Escarpment off-shore Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, before the break-up of Gondwana.[2] The Lebombo monocline strikes N-S and dips to the east. It is composed of a sequence of Jurassic age volcanic rock, both basaltic lavas and rhyolitic flows and tuffs. The sequence rests on essentially horizontal Karoo Supergroup sedimentary rocks of the Kalahari Craton to the west and is overlain by Cretaceous to recent sediments to the east. The alternating resistant rhyolite and easily eroded basalts produce a series of parallel sharp cuesta ridges separated by savanna plains.[3]

The range is relatively low with heights between 400 m (1,300 ft) and less than 800 m (2,600 ft). The highest peak is the 776 m-high (2,546 ft) Mount Mananga. The 480 m-high (1,570 ft) Longwe is the highest point in the Lebombo Range north of the Letaba River.[4]

The mountains dominate Lubombo District in Swaziland. Towns in the area include Siteki in the centre, Lubhuku in the west and Mayaluka and Big Bend in the south with the Lusutfu River running past the southern region of the mountain range. At the north lie the towns of Simunye, Tambankulu and Namaacha, and the Mlawula Nature Reserve as well as the Mbuluzi River.

A number of rivers, including the Pongola, Mkuze, and Lusutfu, cross the mountains from west to east.

The name of the mountains is derived from the Zulu word ubombo meaning "big nose".

Protected areas[edit]

Kruger National Park and Phongolo Nature Reserve protect part of the range.


  1. ^ Watkeys, M.K. (2002). "Development of the Lebombo rifted volcanic margin of southeast Africa". GSA Special Papers. Geological Society of America. 362. doi:10.1130/0-8137-2362-0.27. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Jokat, W.; Boebel, T.; König, M.; Meyer, U. (2003). "Timing and geometry of early Gondwana breakup" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 108 (B9). doi:10.1029/2002JB001802. Retrieved 30 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Manninen, Tuomo, et. al., The Karoo Volcanic Rocks and Related Intrusions in Southern and Central Mozambique, Geological Survey of Finland, 2008, Special Paper 48, pp. 211–250
  4. ^ Echo System

External links[edit]