The Top 10 Major Mountain Ranges Of Africa

The vast and diverse continent of Africa is home to some of the world’s most impressive mountain ranges. These natural wonders are formed by geological processes, with plate tectonics being the main force in their creation. Africa’s mountain ranges not only offer breathtaking views and natural beauty, but they also serve as a source of important minerals and resources.

 

 1. Atlas Mountains

One of the most prominent mountain ranges in Africa is the Atlas Mountains, which cover a distance of over 1,200 miles in the northwestern region. This range is a backbone for three countries in the Maghreb region: Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

The highest peak is Mount Toubkal, which stands at an elevation of 13,671 ft. The Atlas Mountains are also home to the indigenous Berber people and a diverse range of flora and fauna including the Barbary macaque, Atlas Mountain viper, and Barbary leopard.

 

2. Drakensberg Mountains

In South Africa, the Drakensberg Mountains form a natural barrier between the high central plateaus and the coastal lowlands. Stretching for over 700 miles, this range is home to the highest peak in Southern Africa, Thabana Ntlenyana, which stands at 11,424 ft.

The Drakensberg Mountains are also known for their diverse plant and animal life, with some species such as the mountain pipit, cape vulture, and Drakensberg siskin being unique to this range. The Tugela Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the world, can also be found in the Drakensberg Mountains.

 

3. Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” are situated on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. These mountains feature six separate glaciers and the highest non-volcanic and non-orogenic mountain in the world, Mount Stanley, which rises to 16,762 ft. The Rwenzori Mountains are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and are known for their deposits of minerals like copper and cobalt.

 

 4. Ethiopian Highlands

Located in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Highlands are often referred to as the “Roof of Africa” due to their extensive continuous elevation. This rugged mountain mass is divided into two sections: the Abyssinian Massif and the Harar Massif.

The Simien Mountains, a part of the Abyssinian Massif, is home to Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia at 14,930 ft. These mountains also support many endemic species like the Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, and Gelada baboon.

 

5. Virunga Mountains

The Virunga Mountains are a range of eight volcanoes that stretch for 50 miles between Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These mountains are home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas and two active volcanoes.

The Marrah Mountains, located in the Darfur region of Sudan, are a unique mix of volcanic peaks and lush valleys that support seasonal agriculture. And the Nuba Mountains, situated in Sudan’s South Kordofan state, are known for their extensive deposits of minerals like phosphate and uranium.

 

6. Marrah Mountains

Located at the center of Sudan’s Darfur region, the Marrah Mountains are a unique blend of volcanic peaks and lush valleys. With an area of roughly 100 miles, this mountain range’s highest point is the Deriba Caldera, standing at 9,980 ft.

This expansive volcanic field also contains minerals like phosphate, phosphorus, vanadium, and uranium. The mountains are home to the indigenous Nuba people who rely on seasonal agriculture and grazing in the area’s greener parts. The Marrah Mountains also act as the source of some of the Al-Arab River’s tributaries.

 

7. Simien Mountains

Forming a portion of the Ethiopian Highlands, the Simien Mountains offer breathtaking views and rich biodiversity. This mountain range is located in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia and is home to Ras Dejen, the highest peak in the country at 14,930 ft.

These mountains are a World Heritage Site and contain a unique mix of plateaus, valleys, and peaks. The Simien Mountains National Park is home to many endemic species like the Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf, Gelada baboon, and more. These mountains were formed over two billion years ago and are a significant part of human history, with some of the earliest hominids living in the surrounding areas.

 

8. Nuba Mountains

The Nuba Mountains, also known as the Nuba Hills, are situated in Sudan’s South Kordofan wilayat. This range stretches for about 19,000 sq. mi and comprises mainly of metamorphic and igneous rocks from the Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Neoproterozoic Ages.

These mountains offer a unique landscape and are rich in minerals like phosphate, phosphorus, vanadium, and uranium. The indigenous Nuba people live in this area and rely on seasonal agriculture and grazing in the greener parts of the mountains.

 

9. Swartberg

Located in South Africa’s Western Cape province, the Swartberg mountain range stretches for about 140 miles and serves as a natural barrier between the Little Karoo and Great Karoo regions. This range is home to two distinct ranges, the Smaller Swartberg or Klein Swartberge and the Greater Swartberg or Groot Swartberge.

The Smaller Swartberg range features the province’s highest peak, Seweweekspoortpiek, which reaches an elevation of 7,628 ft. The Greater Swartberg range is famous for landmarks like the Cango Caves, one of South Africa’s most well-known subterranean systems.

Many mountain passes, including Meiringspoort, Seweweekspoort, and Swartberg Pass, cut through the Swartberg range, providing stunning views and challenging roadways.

 

10. Magaliesberg

Considered one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet, the Magaliesberg Mountains are situated in South Africa’s northern region. This range stretches for about 140 miles, from Pretoria in Gauteng province to Rustenburg in North West. The highest point is the Nootigedacht Glacial Pavement, standing at an elevation of 6,076 ft.

These mountains were formed over two billion years ago and are a significant part of human history, with some of the earliest hominids living in the surrounding areas. The Magaliesberg Mountains offer great opportunities for rock-climbing and feature stunning views from the cableway at Hartbeespoort Dam.

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