Road Tripping South Africa: Kruger to Drakensberg
With the first leg of our “roadtrippin” journey almost over and our time in the Kruger National Park coming to an end we knuckled down to plan our route to our next destination which was the indomitable Drakensberg! For those of you who don’t speak Afrikaans it translates into the Dragons Mountains. We were sad to leave the wonderfully hospitable Jock Safari Lodge in the Kruger and the Afro-Moroccan themed Maqueda Lodge of the Marloth Park Conservancy but extremely excited to head out again and see what the next destination had in store for us. Leaving Marloth Park we headed back out onto the N4 toll road and filled up our car at the Engen One Stop in Malelane which was clean, quick and impressive. The stretch between Malelane and the Nkomazi Plaza, a R51.00 toll plaza, is heavily patrolled by traffic cops so be sure to adhere to the rules of the road and for an extra precaution try keep your headlights on for visibility.
After the toll point we headed South on the Route 38 and the condition of the road for the next 70km wasn’t fantastic but not disastrous by any means. We passed many fruit stalls, Acacias, Jacaranda’s and many mines on the way down through Barberton, Badplaas and Carolina where we had to change direction slightly and take the Route 36 which would lead us to the town of Ermelo, the biggest town around for hours. In Ermelo we decided to stretch our legs and grab some lunch and a coffee at the local Wimpy before heading off again. Just after Ermelo the condition of the road, the N11, worsened severely and is filled with large trucks and potholes.
Luckily there are signs warning of this but please drive slowly and safely over the next 30km’s to avoid any unnecessary accidents. After that however it improves significantly and you can enjoy the landscapes that change before your eyes. There are lots of hills to go up and over but the views from the tops are breath-taking. We left Mpumalanga behind and entered KwaZulu-Natal for the last stretch before we arrived, stopping only to re-fill our fuel-efficient little champion, Hyundai i10, just outside of Newcastle.
The leg between Ladysmith and Amphitheatre Backpacker’s Lodge, our five star rated accommodation, was utterly magnificent and we were filled with a sense of privilege and awe when the Drakensberg, Southern Africa’s highest mountain range, came into view. The Drakensberg is an area filled with activities and various accommodations but specializes in hiking and trails and caters to people of all fitness levels. Overall the journey took us nine hours and although you can do it quicker, we enjoyed stopping and taking pictures along the way, it isn’t every day one gets to come out here. Click here to read Road Tripping South Africa Part 1: Johannesburg to Kruger