Goudvelde Pass (Mount Anderson Water Reserve)

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Mount Anderson is best known as a water reserve Mount Anderson is best known as a water reserve - Photo: Mount Anderson Water Reserve

This pass lies 12km to the NE of Lydenburg on a private nature rerseve. Translated it means Gold Fields Pass. It is a gravel pass but is generally maintained to a reasonable level and will be suitable for most vehicles in dry weather. Like all gravel roads, they can quickly deteriorate in rainy weather and become slippery, muddy, corrugated and potholed. The pass traverses a narrow valley bisected by the Spekboomrivier, which boasts two classically designed high arched, stone bridges along it's course - the downstream bridge is the old road bridge and the one about 2 km further upstream is the rail bridge, but the rail bridge is not visible from the R36. The valley opens up progressively towards the south-east. This is a dead end road and lies on private property and is only accessible to guests staying at one of the lodges in the Mount Anderson Reserve.

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[Video Cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: This pass is an out and back route, so we will only provide directions from the western side. Drive north out of Lydenburg on the R36. Approximately  7 km out of town, turn right onto the gravel road at GPS S25.034130 E30.473110. Follow this road for 6 km in a south-easterly direction, where it swings into the north for another 5 km, as it descends down into the valley and the start of the Goudvelde Pass.

Start of the pass and a big drop down to the Spekboom River ValleyThe pass begins with this steep descent to the river valley / Photo: Trygve Roberts

 About 1,5 km before the start of the pass, you will arrive at a security gate, where you will be required to sign in before entering the reserve. The gatekeeper lives in the small dwelling right at the gate and goes by the unusual name of 'Different'. His small dog "Snoopy" provides him with an active warning system of any vehicles approaching.

After clearing the security gate, the road climbs towards a high ridge for a short while, then levels off providing sweeping views over the pristine landscape. Soon a sharp 90 degree bend to the right at the begining of a steep descent, marks the western start of the pass.

Great views at Mount AndersonThe reserve is popular with mountain bikers / Photo: Rikki Hibbert

The road drops steeply down towards the river valley towards the Natalshoop farm, where the road crosses the Spekboom River. Be careful of the closely spaced water drainage humps all the way down this hill. The mountains on either side of the valley tower up to 1800m ASL as the road, river and dams get dwarfed by comparison. The lovely river has crystal clear water flowing down it's course and there is still some gold panning which takes place on the river, but not within the reserve.

The road follows the left hand side of the river for 3 kms at an easy gradient, where an irrigation dam can be seen lower down on your right. Beyond the dam are the green fields of the Nooitgedacht farm. There is apparently good fishing to be had in these waters and all along this river. Rainbow trout, yellowfish and tilapia abound in the river. Beyond the dam, the gradient increases quickly and things get as steep as 1:8 along the final section towards the summit.

Goudvelde PassAn excellent fly-fishing venue / Photo: MAWR

Mount Anderson Reserve is the ideal destination for a family safari in Mpumalanga. The landscapes of Mount Anderson Reserve are covered with lush vegetation, pristine mountain streams and dramatic rock formations. There are several farms within the reserve which all form part of the bigger reserve, but none have any domestic livestock. Only indigenous game is allowed in the reserve.

Guests staying at Mount Anderson Reserve take full advantage of the enchanting environment by embarking on one of the many adventures offered at the reserve. Game drives at Mount Anderson Reserve gives guests a chance to witness an abundance of antelope such as eland, mountain reedbuck, blesbuck and black wildebeest. Predators also freely roam the area and on game excursions, where it's possible to spot leopard, hyena, jackal and caracal.

Apart from traditional game excursions, other ways to explore the vast lands include horse riding, and mountain biking that are conducted at a pace to suit beginner and experienced riders. Other Mount Anderson Reserve activities are ziplining, boat rowing, swimming, picnics, clay pigeon shooting and air rifle shooting.

For the birders, there are a number of interesting species in the reserve  including the fish eagle, Gurney's sugarbirds, spurfowl, Cape vultures and Malachite sunbirds.

Eland in the reserveEland can be seen in the resrve / Photo: MAWR

Towards the eastern end of the pass, at the inside of one of the sharp curves, what appears to be a small cave can be seen right next to the road. This is actually an old gold mine and it's best not to enter the mine due to the obvious dangers, but it does give a concept of just how tough life must have been for the miners in the late 1800's.

The pass ends just before the farm "Highland Run" then about a kilometer later splits into a fork at the Finsbury farm. A turn to the right will take you to the outlying buildings on the Finsbury farm, whereas a left turn will take you to a farm called "Kliprots" which is located about 4 km further to the east, deep in the ravines of the Drakensberg escarpment.

The property offers spectacular scenery and breathtaking views and carries rare and endangered wildlife as well as some of the most unique vegetation in the country. The property is also steeped in history. It has been owned by Michael and Norma Rattray for some years and now that they have disposed of the famous Mala-Mala Game Reserve, they are giving their full attention to the operation of this extraordinary property.

Single track MTB routesEnjoy some fast single track riding / Photo: MAWR

Always passionately dedicated to wildlife, land and water conservation in the country, Michael Rattray purchased the reserve in the 1980s in an attempt to restore it from domestic overgrazing to its original ecological splendor. Successfully proclaimed in 1990 as South Africa’s first-ever private water catchment reserve, Mount Anderson is a classic conservation story and today protects some of the major river catchments that are the lifeblood of the Kruger National Park and all the local communities.

Michael Rattray’s family owned and ran Mala-Mala Game Reserve, a private game reserve on the border of the Kruger National Park, for 52 years and his association with the National Park goes as far back as 1938.  During this time, he watched with concern as the river levels dropped lower each year and the perennial Sand River assumed non-perennial status flowing intermittently during the dry winter months.  This became the unfortunate state of affairs of most of the Kruger National Park’s rivers and it became vital that something be done to reverse this trend. 

Spekboomrivier offers trout fishing in clear watersThe Spekboomrivier offers trout fishing in clear waters / Photo: SteenLarsenfilmThe continual decline of “instream flows” impacted negatively on wildlife biodiversity in parks such as the Kruger National Park and the protection of these water resources became imperative to ensure the sustainability of the wildlife and therefore encourage an ongoing increase in tourism.  The necessity to protect catchments is borne out of the fact that 80% of any river’s flow emanates from 20% of its most upstream area.

In 1990 Michael Rattray exercised options on 8,000 hectares of land in the then Lydenberg district and the consolidation of these properties created Mount Anderson.  At 2,000 metres above sea level in the river catchment areas of the Blyde River system of Mpumalanga, this development was the beginning of his contribution to serious water conservation – and the simultaneous protection of the indigenous Highveld flora and fauna.  Mount Anderson derives its name from one of the highest peak in Mpumalanga, namely Mount Anderson, which at 2,000 metres, lies at the southern point of the property.

Old mine next to the road in a cuttingOne of the old mines can be seen on the left of the road near the summit / Photo: Trygve Roberts

Michael Rattray’s first action after this land acquisition was the removal of all exotic livestock.  The use of these former summer grazing areas for sheep and cattle had denuded the flora, and in turn damaged the catchment areas of the five rivers that rise on the property.  Overgrazing of the grass cover had seriously affected the water retaining sponges, but the simple removal of bulk indiscriminate grazers restored the rivers to produce a strong year round flow.  Michael Rattray’s passion, and his vision and commitment for new forms of conservation, provided the motivation for acquiring the source of the rivers where some misinformed farmers were inflicting much of the damage.

Once you have completed the pass, you have options to continue exploring other parts of the reserve, or you can turn around at the intersection marking the eastern end of the pass and retrace your route back to the R36. Once you have turned right onto the R36 and are heading towards Ohrigstad, make sure you stop at the spot marked "Old Bridge" where the R36 crosses the Spekboom River. From the current bridge you will get a clear view of the old Steenkamp's stone bridge with its graceful arches. It is still in remarkably good condition and puts the new bridge somewhat to shame. The rail bridge (pictured below) cannot be seen from the road and is about 2 km upstream.

Old rail bridge on Potloodspruit farmThe beautiful rail bridge over the Spekboom River / Photo: Redshift3 on Panoramio

The road bridge is located on the farm 'Potloodspruit', which is not inside the Mounta Anderson Reserve. Its original construction comprised a steel arched structure with steel deck spanning 30m with a passage width of 7m. The sub-structure was built of hard 'blue-stone'. The bridge over the Spekboom river was taken into use on 27 June 1897 and was used until 1965 when it was replaced by the new road bridge. Two stone pillars originally supported the steel deck. The bridge was named after Helgard P. Steenkamp, member of the Executive Committee of the Volksraad and Commander of the Lydenburg Commando.

During the Second War of Independence (1899-1902), part of the steel deck was deliberately damaged by the Boer Commandos under General Ben Viljoen to hinder the British who had occupied Lydenburg in 1900, particularly to delay them reaching Pilgrims Rest where he had his headquarters. In 1903 it was replaced with stone by the PWD and renamed the Spekboom Bridge. It was declared a national monument in 1973 under its original historically correct name, Steenkamp's Bridge. Sections of the original bridge found their way into the town of Lydenburg where for a while the railings served as barriers on the De Clerque Street Bridge, as barriers at the road closure of Viljoen Street, and some as part of a cattle crush on the farm 'Potloodspruit' where it stands.

The road bridge was designed by Matheus Carel August

[Information supplied by the Lydenburg Museum]

If you want to see the old rail bridge, you will need to turn right off the R36 just before the Spekboom River at the Kruger's farmstead and ask for permission to drive to the bridge as it is only accessible over their private land.

[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

Fact File:


S25.031662 E30.538694


S25.059367 E30.573003


S25.060592 E30.577766














6,1 km




18 minutes


30 kph








Lydenburg (12 km)

Route Map:

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||Click to download: Goudvelde Pass (Note - This is a.kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS software systems)


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