Favourite SA road trips - Joburg to Durban

2014-10-30 13:36
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Flying is obviously a much more convenient mode of travel. Quick and generally reliable, it gets the job done. But one thing flying can't do is turn the journey itself into a holiday experience.

This might require some planning, but hey, if you have a huge family not only will it be cheaper; yawl might learn something in the venture.

A popular South African road trip is the 600km that we (more or less) cover between Johannesburg and Durban on the N3.

As most travellers know, traffic and a lot of speed cameras sometimes make for a bit of an uncomfortable experience en-route to the fun in the coastal sun.

Here is our alternative suggestion, although it might cost you a night or two, it will take the edge off even before you have arrived in Durbs!

Favourite SA road trips - Joburg to Cape Town

Places to see

From Johannesburg you should travel along the N3. But even before you leave eGoli, there are places to see in the Areas of the East rand. Why not take a pre-holiday break at Heidelberg's Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve or do some road trip homework at the town's Motor Museum?

Most people's first stop is at Harrismith.

The midway point is always busy, but few people look past the Wimpy or Garages. If you are interested in Zulu culture, the nearby township of Intabazwe should not be missed. From here there is also the opportunity to take a wrong turn and go explore the Drakensberg by taking the Oliviershoek pass or making your way to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park via Qwa Qwa and the R712.

My hart verlang na die berge... #goldengate #easternfreestate #mountains

A photo posted by Ellen Jonker (@jonkerellen) on

Suggested Pit stop: Ladysmith

After traversing the Van Reenen Pass, stray along the N11 to Ladysmith.

As the virtual epicentre of the battlefields that are scattered all across the Natal midlands, Ladysmith is a perfect base for exploring our countries violent past.

While the majority of the battlefields are from the Anglo-Boere War, like Spioenkop and Colenso, the likes of Islandwana and Bloodriver also gives the Zulu Perspective. Zululand was an important territory for all who settled here. First there were the Zulu who raised the likes of mighty warriors like Shaka, then the Afrikaners who had hoped to escape English rule in the Cape and then finally the English who conquered when they recognized the potential for trade in the area. The battlefields tell tales of tremendous courage, intrigue and conflict from all three camps.

If you have time after your Battlefield excursion, the Midlands Meander, which snakes on either sides of the N3 from Mooi River to Hilton is another worthy distraction from the main route. The quaint and quality crafts of Howick and Nottingham Road warrant a leisurely stopover if you have the time.

Also see: A Meander through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

From here it is smooth sailing past the province's capital, Pietermaritzburg, before you reach Durban and the bountiful North and South Coasts beyond. So after a day or two, and a little extra petrol, you will arrived rush-free and ready for your holiday.

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