What to look out for on the main South African roads: the N1, N2 and N3

Your work might have you driving long distances or maybe you take to the road for holidays. Either way, at some time you will probably find yourself on the main South African roads linking Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town, and Cape Town to Durban. They are long journeys covering a lot of area, but they don’t have to be boring. Here are our top tips for what to look out for when you are on the N1, N2 or N3. And when you are on our main roads don’t forget to stop off at Shell service stations across the country to refuel and refresh.

The N1 between Johannesburg and Cape Town

Break up this long South African road with stops along the way. Parys is just 20km off the highway and situated on the picturesque Vaal River, it has lots of interesting activities such as fly-fishing and white-water rafting. Consider visiting “the Big Hole” in Kimberly or the cultural attractions in Bloemfontein, such as the Natural History Museum and National Afrikaans Literary Museum. Gariep Dam, outside Colesberg, has water sports and boating as well as a Nature Reserve to keep visitors happy. And if you are looking for some historical buildings check out Hanover’s impressive Dutch Reformed Church dating from 1907 and Beaufort West’s Dutch Reformed Church from the 1860s. The fynbos and succulents of the Karoo landscape eventually change to winelands, the Hex and the Breede River valleys, so why not stop over at a padstal, sit back and enjoy the views.

The N2 between Cape Town and Durban

This journey includes one of the most famous South African roads, the Garden Route along the South Eastern coast. There are the winelands of the Cape, the Tsitsikamma Forest and the wildlife of the Addo region, small tourist friendly communities at Knysna and Jeffreys Bay, and of course beautiful vegetation and sea views. You could stop over in coastal cities, Port Elizabeth and East London, they have a windswept beachtown vibe and architecture from the 1820 Settlers. Closer to Durban there is the Lake Eland Game Reserve about 18 kilometres inland from Port Shepstone. At this reserve you can see four ecosystems coming together – bushveld, wetlands, grasslands, and coastal forest. And you can walk across a suspension bridge scenically balanced high above the green canopies.

The N3 between Johannesburg and Durban

One of the first stops is Heidelberg and it has a certain faded charm, it is also home to the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve and a Motor Museum. Harrismith is the halfway point between Joburg and Durbs and here visitors can find out more about Zulu culture at Intabazwe township. Continuing through Van Reenen Pass you can take a detour on the N11 to Ladysmith. This town is a central point for visiting historical battlegrounds in the Natal midlands. The Midlands Meander, on both sides of the N3 from Mooi River to Hilton, has many enjoyable art and craft stops, restaurants and shops. Pietermaritzburg is also a worthwhile stop on your way to Durban.

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