Botha's Nek Pass (R38)

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Jock of the Bushveld Jock of the Bushveld - Photo: Panoramio

Winding gently through the picturesque province of Mpumulanga, Botha's Nek Pass -- on the R38 -- is 13.8km long, starting at 853m ASL and rising to 1441m - resulting in a moderate gradient of 1/22. It connects Barberton in the east with Badplaas which is 38 km to the west. The pass is tarred, well engineered and in good condition. It contains 26 curves, bends and corners of which six are greater then 90 degrees.



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Digging into the details:

Getting there: Head north-east out of Barberton on the R38/R40 for 8 km. At the fork, keep left on the R38, to arrive at the start of the pass after 11,5 km.

The lush sub-tropical climate attracts weekend visitors from the reef, but not quite with the same fervour as the discovery of gold in the nearby town of Barberton, which experienced an explosion in polulation in the late 1800's. Today Barberton serves more as a centre for farmers and of course, the tourists still arrive here to marvel at the lengths people went to dig for gold. The timber industry is alive and well with vast tracts of land under commercial pine plantations. The region also produces deciduous fruits and most of the local avocado pear crop. There are several excellent passes in this region, making it a visually interesting place to travel.

Summit views Bothas Nek PassViews over the escarpment near the summit / Photo: Rehan OppermanBarberton, the Daisy town, was named after Henry Barber in 1884, 24 July by the Gold Commissioner David Walson, after Barber and his cousin Fred discovered gold in the area. The mining of gold in South Africa began in Barberton, where Tom McLachlan found the first traces of alluvial gold in 1874. Since then, gold fields flourished as fortune seekers flocked to the area in search of gold.

Today, the town has four gold mines that are more than 100 years and still in use.

These mines are; The Agnes Gold Mine, was named after Jessie Agnes the wife of Jack Greaves. Jack Greaves discovered gold in this area in 1888. After some time he sold the mine to AJ Knuckly for about 1000 pounds. This mine is the main producer of gold and silver.

The Fairview Gold Mine, Discovered in 1887 and owned by Kidson Reef Gold Mining Company LTD since then, Fairview is the only South African plant that has biox plant to extract gold. Previously owned by Gold Fields was sold to Avgold in 1998 at an estimated price of R95 Million Rands.

New Consort Gold Mine, was established in 1885, it is currently owned by Metorex LTD, MCI Resources LTD and Crew Gold Crop.

Sheba Gold Mine, is owned and controlled by the Barberton Area Gold Deposit. This was the first mining area, which was discovered by Edward Bray.

Source: SA History Online

Fact File:


S25.763194 E30.893754


S25.774904 E30.801399


S25.774904 E30.801399














13,8 km




25 minutes


60 - 80 kph








Barberton (20km)

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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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