10 May 2016 @ 18:25:34 pm
We live in Ballito and have driven up North twice in the last year, once in May 2015 to Kruger and this year in March to Marakele, Mapungubwe, Tzaneen and back via Kruger and Swaziland. Heading North both times we took the N3 to Escort, then the N11 via Newcastle, Volksrust, Ermelo and overnighted at Middelburg. We found this route very easy to drive, the roads in good condition. It is "old school" driving though - lots of single carriageway so you have to wait for passing places, but no tolls ! There aren't that many great rest stops, I tend to look for Engen (which has a Wimpy so you know what you're going to get) or a Caltex with a Fresh stop.
Returning to KZN last year, we exited Kruger at Orpen gate, overnighted at Hoedspruit, then went down to Nelspruit. From there we took the R 40 to Barbeton, then Badplas where we turned onto the R 541 down to the N 17 before turning onto the R 33 . Up til that point the roads were in superb condition; no potholes, next to no traffic. Not towing we were able to enjoy superb drving, but some surprisingly long hills. We followed the R 33 all the way down to Vryheid - this road was not quite so good, the odd pothole, a bit rough in places and nowhere nice to stop at all really, but very quiet. We then joined the R 34 / R 66 Melmoth / Eshowe . This is quite a busy section of road, there are frequent speed limit restrictions, sometimes it's not terribly clear what the speed limit actually is. ( I received a performance certificate from the Melmoth constabulary informing me that my car was indeed capable of doing 93 in an 80 zone and would I please be so kind as to send them R 150 for issue of said certificate ? ) Overall I'm not sure I'd recommend this route , not the section from the N2 up the R 34/ R 33 as far as Amsterdam anyway . Returning from Kruger this year we exited at Crocodile bridge and followed the N4 as far as Malelane and then went via Swaziland . That section of the N4 was very stressful driving; busy, raining, lots of single carriage way and lots of idiots wanting to roar along. We came out of Swaziland and joined the N2 at Piet Retief. The N2 is in good condition, but, heading North after Empangeni you really have to have your wits about you as the standard of driving drops dramatically and people do the most bizarre / dangerous things . There are also usually speed traps every time the speed limits change, especially where it becomes 80. The route is tolled from Tongaat to Empangeni and the tolls are quite steep - the bonus is you get a superb road to drive on for that section. Around Pongola the road is speed restricted to 80 for about 50 km - very frustrating.
So not sure if any of that helps or not? Perhaps take the N2 all the way to Piet Retief then right onto the R33 to the N17 then right onto the N 17 then left on the R 541 to Badplas, then right onto the R 38 to Barbeton . ( Sounds complicated , but it was easy to do. ) then choose if you want to go the R 40 to Nelspruit then onto the N4 or take the R 38 all the way to the N4.
Best of luck.