South Africa
beauty, you'll never forget

The Nelshoogte Pass, also referred to as the Nelsberg Pass, is a stretch of tarred road along the R38 between Barberton and Badplaas. If you are approaching from the East, from the intersection of the R40 and R38 near Barberton, travel in a westerly direction, via Botha's Pass, for approximately 30 km’s to the start of the Pass. From the West, the Pass begins approximately 19 km’ east of Badplaas.

Distance 12 km
Gradient average 1:29
Gradient maximum 1:7
Summit 1547 m
Surface Tar

The road is in good condition and apart from the occasional slow-moving logging trucks, is considered a fairly safe route. Travelling from east to west presents some particularly wonderful views of the Nkomati Valley as the road begins to climb slowly at a gentle gradient. Despite the pine plantations of the Nelshoogte State Forest visible on both sides of the road, and the minor gravel roads intersecting off the main route as regular intervals, your views are open and uninterrupted at this point.

Pretty dressed stone walls have been built on the sides of the road as a safety guard in certain areas along the Pass and as you crest the summit a small layby appears on the right-hand side of the road – this is a dangerous place however to stop when travelling in this direction so if you would like to stop and take some photographs, rather park at the gravel road at the summit itself.

The descent is considerably steeper into the valley and the entire Pass was once a very difficult route over the Nelsberg Mountain known for its sticky red mud and boulders; a constant ordeal for wagons, particularly if it rained as they could find themselves stuck for days.

Although the Pass is not very long, it is one of the most beautiful in the Province and is easily incorporated into a number of scenic drives.

Thing to do and see

  • Nelshoogte State Forest Reserve
  • Queens Rose Hiking Trail
  • View Points


Free to Drive

Best during daylight hours

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