Self-drive: The Genesis Route

By Focus Online Team on September 16, 2019
Journey through magical Mpumalanga

Much like the Cape’s Garden Route, Mpumalanga’s Genesis Route is made up of beautiful, unique towns just waiting to be discovered. This spectacular adventure is described as a journey which will take you back in time and allow you to discover towns and landscapes from bygone eras. The route takes travellers along a 220km route through, and around, the Makhonjwa Mountain Range. So, snap on your seat belt and let’s get going!

Self Drive: The Genesis Route

The Departure

Leave the comfort of Casterbridge Hollow Hotel and drive 30 minutes to the town of Nelspruit where your Genesis Route adventure officially begins. An important decision needs to be made – will you take the R40 directly to Barberton or the N4 towards Malelane? For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to go the scenic route so buckle up your seatbelts and let’s hit the road!

Keep an eye out for the Nkomazi Silo in Kappmuiden on your way along the N4 as that signifies our turning – there will also be a sign indicating Genesis Route. If you reach the toll gates, you’ve gone too far.

The Genesis Route

The R38

Trundle along the R38 between Kaapmuiden and Low’s Creek surrounded by magnificent arable fields and beautiful bushveld before making your first stop at Nukain Mabuza’s Stone Garden. Here you will find an array of painted rocks  by Nukain, an internationally recognised artist who has even been celebrated on Broadway.

The Genesis Route

Eureka City

Continue driving along the R38 until you come across Mountain-lands Nature Reserve, a scenic spot that contains one of the ‘Mining Wonders of the World’, Bray’s Golden Quarry. The area was so rich in gold that some rocks appeared to be glued into the ground by gold. Take a tour of the Sheba Mine and Bray’s Golden Quarry before making your way to Eureka City.

We do not recommend this unless you have a 4×4 or a competent vehicle as the town is located high in the Makhonjwa Mountains. The journey is an absolute must for adrenaline seeking 4×4 enthusiasts. Once through the the Gates of Paradise and Gates of Hell, explore a former ‘boom town’.


Step back in time with the gold rush town of Barberton. Follow the well-trodden paths worn by past prospectors and residents of the area. During your time in Barberton, set off on the Heritage Walk and discover the town’s iconic relics. Not only is the town and its surroundings rich in history but also a mecca for bird lovers thanks to the 2km Rimer’s Creek Birding Trail.

Make sure to stock up on some food and water for the next part of your Genesis Route adventure!

The Genesis Route

Barberton's Geotrail

Did we forget to mention that Barberton and its slightly further afield Geotrail are home to some of the oldest rocks and geological formations on Earth? Enter a time warp and explore what the world would have looked like pre-dinosaurs around 3.5 billion years ago. There are 11 major stops along the route and it typically takes 5 hours.

The Genesis Route

Nelshoogte Pass to Badplaas

The striking scenery continues as you continue along the R38 to Badplass. This particular route takes you Nelshoogte Pass, a road that winds through the Nelshoogte Nature Reserve and is essentially a string of incredible vistas and viewing points. For all the avid hikers out there, we recommend donning your gear and setting off on the 2-day Queen Rose Hiking Trail – this 26km hike leads visitors through indigenous forests, along the Queens River, suspension bridges, river crossings and splash pools. Contact Barberton Tourism to find out more!

Amazingly, this route is also suited to anglers with a penchant for fly-fishing so grab your gear and head to Dawson’s Trout and Game Lodge.


Badplaas is renowned for its healing springs and more recent hydro spa’s – perfect for anyone who tackled the Queen Rose hiking trail! If you’re looking for a little more adventure before you hit the spa, perhaps hire a houseboat or dayboat at Vygeboom Dam and spend some time fishing, canoeing, paddle boating, SUP-ing or reading that book you keep saving for ‘downtime’. The Cradle of Life Biopark is also a great stop-in before Badplaas, especially if you’re enjoying some family time. Get up-close and personal with predators from all over the world and find out why they needed a second chance.

Hopefully this has inspired you to start planning your self-drive along the Genesis Route. We do, however, recommend that you make the most of Mpumalanga and take time to explore South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route. Centrally located for all 3 of these phenomenal adventures is Casterbridge Hollow Hotel, so be sure to visit our website and book your accommodation. Alternatively, contact us at or on +27 (0)13 737 7752.

Image Credits:
Barberton Tourism
Tony Ferrar
SA Country Life
The Outsider

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