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The Route and Stories

From the point where Hans Strijdom Drive crosses the N4 just east of Pretoria, it is almost exactly 500km to the end of the tollroad section of the highway in Maputo, Mozambique. The Kruger National Park is 300km or so away.

The N4 is operated as a 30-year toll concession by Trans African Concessions (TRAC). The route is constantly patrolled to help ensure the safety of motorists. For 24-hour roadside assistance, call the TRACAssist hotline on 0800 TRAC N4 (0800 872 264)
  • Toll plazas are operated at Diamond Hill Plaza: between Pretoria and Witbank
  • Middelburg Plaza: between Witbank and Middelburg
  • Machado Plaza: between Machadodorp and Waterval Boven
  • Nkomazi Plaza: between Nelspruit and Malelane
  • Moamba Plaza: at Moamba
  • Maputo Plaza: at Matola near Maputo.
The rehabilitated, modern N4 highway becomes the EN4 at the border with Mozambique. Together, these roads are the backbone of the Maputo Development Corridor, a multinational, multi-stakeholder initiative that is creating jobs and unlocking investment by facilitating the fast, effective movement of people and goods.

Route Sections

1. Pretoria to Emalahleni / Witbank
Approximately 95km.In Emalahleni, the N12 highway from Ekurhuleni/Johannesburg joins the N4. Stories on this section of road in The N4 Book include:

The battle of Diamond Hill, the fabulous diamonds of Cullinan, the horrors of South African War concentration camps, Sir Winston Churchill, the Taiwanese Buddhist monastery and Mzilikazi, founder of the Matablele nation.

2. Emalahleni / Witbank to Machadodorp
From Witbank/Emalahleni to Machadodorp the distance is some 90km. Stories on this section of road in The N4 Book include:

The vast coalfields of Mpumalanga and where they came from, how, where and how much electricity is generated in this region, the Botshabelo mission station, signs of a vast volcanic eruption 2.1 billion years ago, how trout farming came to the Highveld and how animals created the pans of the area over thousands of years; Bergendal, the last pitched battle of the South African War.

3. Machadodorp to Nelspruit via Waterval Boven
After Machadodorp the motorist has the choice of taking either the N4 Schoemanskloof road or the N4 via Waterval Boven. Both sections are approximately 60km to the point where they meet at Montrose. The road infrastructure on both sections is top class and the routes are extremely scenic. We strongly suggest that, whichever of the routes you choose, you consider taking the other on your return journey. The section of road between Machadodorp and Nelspruit via Waterval Boven is covered in Chapter 3 of The N4 Book.

From Machadodorp to Nelspruit via Elandskloof it is some 95 kilometres. Stories in this chapter include:

The old Nederlands-Zuid-Afrikaansche railway line, its tunnels and bridges, remarkable tales of fish that occur only in isolated streams which the road crosses , how engineers have battled to keep nature – indeed a whole mountainside – from falling onto the road, the stories around the lime kilns at Ngodwana.

4. Machadodorp to Nelspruit via Schoemanskloof
The Schoemanskloof section of the N4 is approximately 65 kilometres from Machadodorp to the point, at Montrose, where the two sections of road meet. In Chapter 4 read about:

Mysteries of Mpumalanga's ancient stone ruins, the bizarre South African War battle of Helvetia, the strange Lydenburg Heads, the vanished narrow-gauge railway line of Schoemanskloof, the legends (and facts) of the famous Old Joe statue.

5. Nelspruit to Komatiepoort
From Nelspruit to the border at Komatipoort is some 105km. This section skirts the southern border of the Kruger National Park and is one of the loveliest drives in southern Africa. Stories on this section of road in The N4 Book include:

How malaria, nagana and other dread diseases used to kill thousands of travellers and railway workers, Nelson Mandela's links with this 'haunting' part of South Africa, strange paintings of the San/Bushmen, the tragedy of the Samora Machel plane crash, the aircraft abandoned next to the road which is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

6. Komatiepoort to Maputo
From Ressano Garcia to the Maputo Plaza just outside the Mozambican capital, the road is 88km long. Stories on this section of road in The N4 Book include:

The Mozambican Civil War and the ambushes that made this part of road so deadly, Cyclone Domoina and its devastation, the burial site of Jock of the Bushveld, how roadbuilders had to clear deadly landmines, the 1981 South African attack on ANC operatives in Matola, Maputo and its place in history.
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