South Africa is a huge country covering over 471,000 square miles across many diverse terrains. It is not surprising that many tourists choose to fly between major destinations such as Cape Town and Johannesburg as it could take you well over 14 hours to do this by car.
However to fly everywhere would mean missing out on some terrific scenic drives like the Chapmans Peak Drive in the Western Cape and the Long Tom Pass.
Long Tom Pass is located in Mpumalanga Province and runs between Sabie and Mashishing - better known as Lydenburg. This 56km long drive is probably one of South Africa's most impressive roads and was originally built in 1873. Starting life as not more than a gravel road it was upgraded to a tar road in 1956 and has been maintained ever since. The route the road takes today is almost identical to the one that the old ox-carts used to take when transporting goods to markets all those years ago.
The drive along Long Tom Pass takes you over the stunning northern Drakensberg escarpment and down to the famous Panorama Route of Mpumalanga. Start your journey at the Mashishing side taking the R37 and you will quickly climb up onto a ridge sweeping around bends in the roads before you reach a height of 2,150 metres above sea level. Naturally, being this high, you can find yourself driving into thick mist but on a clear day the views are magnificent. In the winter months snow falls on top of Mount Anderson and when this melts it creates streams that ultimately flow into the Sabie River Valley. The advantage of starting your journey from the Lydenburg end is that most of the viewing points are on your side of the road making it easier for you to pull over and take some pictures.
On route you will pass the Misty Mountain Hotel and shortly afterwards you will reach the Devils Knuckles. Here you should stop and take a walk around the monument created in memory of the Boers and their use of the Long Tom guns that were used to fight off the British. There is a replica of one of these guns for you to look at as well as superb panoramic views plus a coffee shop and some craft stalls.
After here the pass continues downwards carving a way to either Mbombela (often called Nelspruit) or to Sabie town. The views along the Long Tom Pass are quite amazing and well worth the effort to get here and grab some unique holiday memories.