Allemansnek Pass (R543)

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Grasslands and Wetlands of Mpumalanga ensure good grazing for cattle Grasslands and Wetlands of Mpumalanga ensure good grazing for cattle - Photo: Wikimedia

This pass is straightforward with no sharp curves or steep gradients. It is of significant historical value in that this was the scene of a fierce battle during the Anglo-Boer war. The Battle of Allemansnek took place on 11th June 1900 between the Boer forces and the British army under General Buller. After this battle the Boers, fearing that they would be surrounded, retreated from Laingsnek. Buller occupied both Volksrust and Charlestown.

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[On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester]

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Digging into the details:

Head west out of Volksrust on the R543 for 13,5 km to find the start of the Allemansnek Pass. The pass starts at its eastern end just before the turn-off to the right to the Waterval farm, whereafter it makes a slight adjustment into the WSW. The steep mountains to the your right (north) are the Versamelberg Mountains. (Collection Mountains)

Good grazing farmlandAbove - Good quality grazing near Volksrust / Photo: Volksrust TourismIt climbs at a steady, but gentle gradient as heads towards a natural neck opposite a farm on the left (south) of the road, Bronkhorstfontein. Shortly after the summit, a gravel road leads off to the left, which is a public farm road, which heads south to the farm Waaihoek and beyond. Near the summit there is a memorial to commemorate the battle. The memorial is some distance off the main road.

To locate it, take the first road left after the summit at GPS S27.387285 E29.698141. Continue along this road for 1.5 km and take the second road to the left at GPS S27.398985 E29.691689 – The memorial is 90 metres along this little side road on the right hand side of the road at GPS S27.399743 E29.692150. The pass ends at the crossing of a small stream and the turn-off to the right (north) to the Soetendalsvlei farm. It is a further 52 km to Vrede.

Memorial to the Battle of AllemanshoekMemorial to the Battle of Allemanshoek / Photo: Peter Levey
The most critical stage of the battle had been reached by that stage. The Boers had managed to hold up the British infantry's advance due to their concentration on either side of Allemansnek and from the summit of the hills on either side. As the burghers observed the success of their comrades on that flank, they began to converge, and the Boer rifle fire became more intense. This, in effect, temporarily halted the British advance, since they found themselves in a serious predicament due to lack of cover.

The British casualties in the battle of Allemansnek were officially recorded as 19 killed and 123 wounded. The 10th Brigade suffered heavier casualties than the 2nd Brigade on their left. Sixty-four of the brigade's 91 casualties were suffered by the Dorsets, due to their more vulnerable position coupled with their headlong charge through the nek.

Once again, Boer casualty figures have been difficult to confirm. In a telegram to President Paul Kruger on 12 June, Botha reported that his burghers had fought hard against staggering odds for some twelve hours: 'The enemy suffered heavily ... Our losses are unknown. As far as I am aware, 3 bodies have fallen into the hands of the enemy ...' According to the War Graves records from 11 June 1900, one Boer was buried on the farm Koringplaas and two on the farm Zoetendalsvlei. The latter two were recently reburied on Koringplaas. Most of the Boer casualties were from the Lydenburg Commando and only one is recorded from the Wakkerstroom Commando. Botha noted that seven members of his Swaziland Commando were wounded.

[Research and text write-up by Trygve Roberts & Mike Leicester]

Fact File:


S27.369192 E29.742100


S27.385653 E29.704252


S27.387273 E29.681609














6,5 km




10 minutes


80 - 100 kph


Tar (R543)






Volksrust (17 km)

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Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.

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