Route 56 is a surprisingly well-maintained, provincial route that links Middleburg in the Eastern Cape, with Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal. On the map it looks as though someone has taken a crayon and drawn a squiggly line east, north east through the country.
Marketed as the ‘shortest route’ between the Western Cape and Durban, the route’s main leverage is that it is a viable alternative to the N2 through the Transkei. It passes through the mountain country of Lesotho, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal connecting Molteno, Maclear and Kokstad.
Calling it ‘short’ is a little misleading. It may be shorter in terms of kilometres, but the nature of the roads through the mountains mean that you take it slower. You can easily add three hours to your journey, but they’re hours well spent in terms of scenery and escaping the N2. Continued