Offering some of the most scenic vistas in South Africa, the N4 route also offers travellers a veritable feast of historical, scenic and geological features that make stopping along the road a must for the inquisitive-minded; in addition, there are a multitude of leisure options to explore, including sports and nature activities, as well as sumptuous eateries.
N4 TOLL ROUTE: Tshwane to Maputo
Trans African Concessions (TRAC) is responsible for the 570km of the road between Solomon Mahlangu off-ramp in Tshwane and the Port of Maputo in Mozambique. Six toll plazas operate on this stretch of the road, all of which are also managed by TRAC.
The N4 toll route takes one through a genuinely remarkable variety of landscapes, making it an incredibly scenic and visually enriching route to travel. What makes the N4 Toll Route unique and interesting is that it comprises two different countries, three different provinces (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Maputo) and four different regions. The TRAC N4 Toll Route starts in Tshwane – the administrative capital of the country, which is renowned for its fascinating history, captivating Jacaranda-lined streets and its thorn tree-dotted grasslands which line the national highway. These scenic plains eventually give way to the golden maize field of Bronkhorstspruit and the vast coalfields of Mpumalanga’s Highveld region.
The Highveld section of the route starts in eMalahleni, which means ‘place of coal’ – a name symbolic to the town’s historical and current status as the coal mining capital of the province. The farming and industrial town of Middelburg is in close proximity to eMalahleni and is known as the Stainless Steel Capital of Africa. Heading East, the route takes travelers through the mystical, mist-shrouded trout, cattle and sheep farming areas of Belfast and Machadodorp before splitting into two – one through Waterval Boven and the other through Schoemanskloof.
The latter stretches from Machadodorp to Montrose Falls and offers mesmerizing scenery as it cuts and meanders through mountains, farmlands and forests. It’s a route brimming with cultural and heritage sites, as well as breathtaking panoramas, renowned tourist attractions and accommodation spots.
The Waterval Boven area is rich in history and exploring possibilities. Not only is this area the gateway to Mpumalanga’s best hiking trails, it is also universally distinguished for its historical ties which are demonstrated by the town’s setting within the shadows of thousands of stone walls, believed to be the ruins of the BaKoni Settlements.
The drop from the Highveld escarpment to the lush Lowveld is quite pronounced on both the Schoemanskloof and Waterval Boven routes. To get the best of both worlds regular travelers often alternate between the two. The two routes join again at the Montrose T-junction situated about 30km from Nelspruit/Mbombela. At this point one has entered the Lowveld officially and if the lushness of the surroundings doesn’t give it away, the hot, humid weather commonly associated with this part of the world will.
Over the years the N4 has undergone significant changes to better accommodate the ever-increasing traffic flow. One of the most significant changes was the construction of the Nelspruit Northern Ring Road which allows motorists to bypass the busy Nelspruit CBD when travelling towards Malalane and beyond. In years gone by travelers had to drive through the busy Nelspruit business area, often getting caught up in city traffic, but now are offered the choice with the establishment of the ring road which rejoins the original N4 route at Karino T-junction, near the turn-off to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA). From here you will encounter the mainstay of the Lowveld economy - farms producing subtropical fruits such as avocados, mangoes and macadamia nuts as well as sugarcane farms. The Nkomazi region is particularly rich in sugarcane farming which is fortified by the reputable and well-recognised TSB sugar mill that is based in Malalane and is also offers an entry point to the world’s most reputable nature reserve, Kruger National Park. The turnoff for the Malalane Gate can be found on the N4, a few kilometres from Malalane, while the Crocodile Bridge Gate turn off is situated further along the route. The N4 also offers a link to Swaziland and the turn off for the Jeppes Reef Border Post with Swaziland is located just before Komatipoort.
Lebombo Border Post
Komatipoort is the last South African town on the N4 (Eastbound) and the Lebombo Border Post to Mozambique is situated just kilometres away. This bustling border post marks the start of the final 91km stretch of the TRAC N4 Toll Route which is known as the EN4. The Lebombo Border Post, together with its counterpart – Ressano Garcia in Mozambique - are the busiest border posts in Southern Africa. These border posts play a critical role in the economic alliance of both countries and are always abuzz with road cargo carriers, business travelers as well as tourists.
For more information on this border crossing, go to the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) webpage - www.mcli.co.za.
The EN4 in Mozambique is today a far cry from the landmine-ridden passage it used to be in the 80’s and 90’s. After the country was ravaged by civil war the stretch of road between the Lebombo Border Post and Maputo was in fact considered as one of the most dangerous in the world.
Since the start of its construction in 1999, the EN4 has evolved into a quality road and today boasts an excellent road surface, bridges, road markings and signage. Building the road proved an unforgettable experience for TRAC’s construction teams who not only removed numerous landmines from the path, but also discovered many relics of the country’s civil war during the construction phase. The EN4 features two toll plazas, one at Moamba and the other at Matola, with the latter being the busiest of the entire N4 toll route. The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, is one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Africa and bears testimony to the country’s post-war progress and development. The N4 Toll Route has been a catalyst for this and has played a pivotal role in improving cross-border co-operation between South Africa and Mozambique