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: Pretoria to Maputo
Trans African Concessions (TRAC) is responsible for 571km between Hans Strijdom off-ramp in Pretoria and the Port of Maputo in Mozambique, and it operates six toll plazas along the route.
In South Africa, the N4 toll route travels through a genuinely remarkable variety of landscapes, making it one of the most scenic and visually enriching journeys for motorists and travellers in the country.From the thorn tree-dotted grasslands of Pretoria to Bronkhorstpruitpast maize fields to the vast coalfields and undulating grasslandsof eMalahleni/Witbank and Middelburg on the Highveld, the road rises to the scenic, at times mist-shrouded trout, cattle and sheep farming areas of Belfast and Machadodorp. Shortly after Machadodorp, at what is known as Crossroads, the N4 toll route splits and you can travel to the Lowveld either via historical Waterval Boven and its famous tunnel, or through Schoemanskloof, known for its valley citrus farms nestling against the backdrop of dramatic mountains and gorges.
Dropping down from the escarpment to the lush Lowveld below is quite pronounced on both routes, and each offers its own panoramic beauty and tourist attractions.
Shortly before heading into Mpumalanga’s capital city, the Nelspruit Northern Ring leads you around the busy central business district towards Malalane. Approaching Nelspruit from Pretoria, look out for the signboard announcing the split and carry on straight if you want to bypass all the traffic lights on your way east, or veer off left if you’re going to the city, Kaapsche Hoop or the R40 split to White River and Barberton. The ring road joins the original N4 route just outside Nelspruit at Karino near the turn-off to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) and towards Malalane and the Lebombo border post.
Lebombo Border Post
The Lebombo Border Post marks the start of the final 88km stretch of your N4 journey, and from here you are officially driving on the EN4. The border posts – Lebombo in South Africa and Ressano Garcia in Mozambique – mark one of the busiest crossings in southern Africa used by cargo carriers, buses and taxis ferrying passengers between the two countries, regular business people and tourists. It is not uncommon for South Africans to hop across the border for a seafood lunch in Maputo, or for Mozambicans to visit some nature reserve in South Africa on a day trip.
At present, the Lebombo border post operates between 6am and 10pm, although the hours are extended over peak periods. For more information on this border crossing, especially useful if you are a freighter, visit the website of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative at www.mcli.co.za.
The EN4 in Mozambique is unrecognisable from the landmine-ridden passage it used to be in the 1980s and early 1990s, when it was still ravaged by war and considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Since the start of its construction in 1999, the EN4 is now quality road with an excellent road surface, bridges, road markings and signage. It features two toll plazas, at Moamba and Maputo - the latter is now the busiest on the entire N4 toll route processing between 40 000 and 45 000 vehicles each day.
During the construction phase, TRAC’s road construction teams removed landmines and, as they cleared vegetation, discovered many relics of the country’s civil war, including graves of soldiers whose remains were reinterred nearby. As you head for Maputo, the area these days features many new or wholly expanded industries, settlements and signs of economic growth and activity.
This stretch thus also represents one of the greatest achievements of the N4/EN4 toll road, through the Maputo Corridor Development Initiative – previously unthinkable cross-border cooperation and public-private partnership, as well as visible and quantifiable empowerment and development of the entire region.