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Barberton Manor Guest House

'The Gem of Barberton'

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Scenic drives

Barberton > Bulembu > Badplaas > Barberton



Bulembu view Bulembu view
  Described by the famous travel writer T.V. Bulpin as one of the most scenic routes in Southern Africa the R40 Barberton Bulembu - Badplaas road is truly magnificent in its splendour and the views are magnificent. Apart from traversing the vast and scenic Barberton Mountainland, the traveller also journeys back into time, as the Mountainland contains some of the best preserved and oldest rock-formations on planet earth. This is an ancient landscape dating back to at least 3.700 million years. The De Kaap valley and other valleys and the rocks in them are host to the first life forms to appear on the planets surface roughly 3.400 million years ago, and can rightly be described as the cradle of life.  
Bulembu view
  The fact that it is a gravel road, put many potential travellers off the experience of a lifetime. The road can easily be traversed if care is taken and you are not in a hurry. Although the round trip from Barberton to Bulembu to Badplaas is roughly 160 km, it can take up to 4 hrs and more to complete. More so because there are so many places to stop and view the magnificent landscape, than anything else.
 The road surface is in fairly good condition during the winter months but can become quite slippery when its raining. The preferred vehicle to travel in is a bakkie / pickup type or a similar vehicle with a good suspension. However, if care is taken and you are prepared to drive slowly (20-30 km/h) the road can be traversed with a normal vehicle.
Extra care should be taken during the rainy season.
Bulembu valley
  From Barberton you exit the town on Sheba Road and travel south on the R40 Bulembu/ Josephsdal Border road. The first 9 km are tarred and is very steep and leads you across the Saddle Back Mountains. There are several lay-bys, which gives you a chance to stop and view the magnificent De Kaap Valley floor and the Barberton mountainland. +\- 5 Km up, turn down the sharp turn off to your right (there is a lay-by to your left). Traverse the little cement edge and follow the road to Sunset Point. This gives you a birds eye view of the valley and is an ideal place to have a braai/picnic or a sundowner during sunset.  
  Continuing up the R40 tar you will notice scars in the mountainside left by earlier mining exploits. Where the tar ends, the traveller in search of spectacular scenery can travel onwards. The more wary can return back down the R40 to Barberton, for the short drive up will already satisfy the eye in terms of the vistas and scenery experienced.  
Cable way
  Where the tar ends, its worth your while to turn left onto the Shiaylongubo Dam road and travel 6,8 km down to Peglars bush. This magnificent natural forest in the middle of the pine plantations is an experience not to be missed. The canopy closes over the road in several places and extends for +\- 1 km along the route. It is a short detour but worth it.  
Dorps dam
  Back on the R40 south heading towards Bulembu you encounter the Town Dam situated at the Highlands Forestry offices. It supplies water via a tunnel through the Saddle Back Mountains to the town. The dam is off limit, for it is located amongst the SAPPI pine forests. About 7,5 km up from the dam, the Arial Cableway between Barberton and Bulembu crosses the road. This is an excellent place to get out and watch the cable cars traversing the mountainside. You can literally grab onto them and catch a ride (not recommended).  
Msauli waterfall
  Carrying on from there you will start noticing mountain streams, waterfalls tree ferns and the odd eagle or two as they hunt the mountainland for prey. Most of the roadside is covered with pine plantations, but every so often it clears to give you some magnificent views over the Songimvelo game reserve to the west. You are also likely to encounter some of the local wildlife like baboon vervet monkeys and duiker. But most likely you will encounter the local cattle as the Swazi people who keep them, traverse the mountainsides looking for grazing.  
  Two kilometres from the Border post, you will encounter a signboard indicating so. Take the turn off to your right and start descending the Msauli valley. This is an exceptionally beautiful area with waterfalls, the Lomati River and the Komati River meandering through it. This is a piece of heaven tucked away in the little known corner of the province, against the Swaziland border. Roughly thirteen kilometres from the R40 turn off you pass through the all but deserted mining town of Msauli. It has a nine-hole golf course, school, club facilities and a trading store. It is not in operation anymore and only skeleton staff, maintain the infrastructure.  
  The road becomes much wider after the mine and you start entering the local communities of Ekulindeni and Ekwalatini. You also pass the entrance to the Songimvelo Game reserve and the Komati River Lodge. You are now traversing the middleveld with beautiful examples of granite outcrops and kopies. Some of these outcrops have precariously balanced boulders situated at the strangest angles, as if some greater hand had placed them there. The road eventually becomes tar again, and you just follow the road through the Badplaas district until where it meets up with the R38 Badplaas Barberton road. Badplaas is only about two kilometres of to you left and Barberton about 67 km to your right.  


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