Kwazulu Natal: Valley of a thousand tolls

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kids

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kidsSo this is what you need to know. The minute you hit Kwazulu Natal by road in any direction, there will be loads of tolls in your future. And it’s not even like the roads are all that awesome. So where is the money going? I don’t think I need to answer that question.

We headed to KZN via Harrismith when we left Clarens and we were not prepared for the distance or the cost. If I was a “good blogger”, I would have made a note of each toll that we passed but by the time I’d paid my 3rd one, I was so over this already. How is this conducive to promoting tourism? How!?

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kidsTolls range from about R64 to R9.50 and you can expect to pay tolls at 6 different places starting from just after Harrismith and finishing about 10 kilometres away from Empangeni.

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kids
You will drive through Golden Gate National Park when you leave Clarens and head to Empangeni
Empangeni is a small inland town near Richard’s Bay. We were invited to stay by one of our readers, who owns Dumami Lodge. My next post will review our stay as these awesome people don’t deserve a post that starts off with a gripe session about tolls.

We found the tolls to be ridiculously restrictive. You are hardly likely to explore too far when you know that you will have to pay a toll to get there and then back again. We tried the non toll option, but found the back roads to be covered in sugar cane, potholes and gravel. So, what’s the point of saving R40 when you’re using up about R50 fuel, not to mention the increased wear and tear on your tyres?

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kidsI’m glad we took the scenic route on the way in, and we made a point of stopping at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick as well as Florentines, a delicious waffle house. This stop had a belgian chocolate fountain on the premises as well as a place where you could buy truffles. ‘Nough said, right!?

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kidsWhile we were in the area, we also checked Howick Falls off our list because, as you may have noticed, we love waterfalls.

I didn’t realize how far Empangeni was and I hopelessly underestimated what time we would arrive. Once again, we arrived in the dark and had quite a hair raising journey on the N2. Don’t the other regions in South Africa know about street lights!? Good grief! Our taxes work for us in the Western Cape. Also, crazy drivers. Wow!

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kids
The kids were given a lesson on where chocolate comes from #homeschool
Anyway, we did try and explore as much as we could while we were there and ended up at the Tugela River Mouth. I didn’t realize this beach had a lighthouse but everything was locked up tight, so we couldn’t see inside.

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There is sugar cane wherever you look and, as much as I wanted my kids to try some, I didn’t want to encourage the affirmative shoppers who were selling pilfered stock along the road. So, despite all the burnt, broken stalks we drove over, our kids still haven’t tasted a stalk.

The weather is beautiful up North. While you all were freezing and flooding and all the rest, we were hanging out on the beach and sweating it up with 31 degrees celcius. I don’t know why more people don’t winter in KZN. It’s the only place to be.

what you need to know, kwazulu natal, empangeni, richard's bay, nelson mandela capture site, howick, florentines, coffee shop, howick, must do, family, travel, south africa, road trip, kidsWell, that’s enough for now. My next post will cover our visit to iSimangaliso Wetland Park as well as our sunset crocs and hippos cruise. Chat soon xx

About TazzDiscovers 127 Articles
We are a family of four with a passion for South Africa. Exploring Cape Town, and anywhere else we can get to in our VW Polo, is our favourite way to spend time together. The kids are almost 12 and 15 respectively, and have had access to the most amazing opportunities through this little blog. This is something we are incredibly grateful for. It has matured them and allowed them to grow into little connoisseurs of all things wonderful, in South Africa. If you would like a family perspective on your business or location, we would love to work with you. Feel free to reach out via email: tazzdiscovers@gmail.com

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