Moving around South Africa. Public transport, tours.

We visited South Africa during a 3 months roadtrip through southern Africa

 (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).
October - December 2014.


We didn´t use the public transport in South Africa because we rented a car, but this information is what we saw travelling around South Africa.

If you travel between big cities and towns, you will find public transport. There are big coaches and vans.
Otherwise, if wanting to visit rural areas, parks, empty places, it will be hard without a private car or tour.

Public transport around big towns/cities:
Really limited and bad, except in Cape Town and some places aroud Johannesburg-Pretoria. So most of the times, the only option is taking a cab or taxi (quite expensive).

Public vans (Toyota or bigger Mercedes), around and between big cities:

Public vans are called “taxis”, in South Africa.  They are the most usual transport for short distances and you also find them on longer distances. Cheaper than the big bus companies. Most of them a new.

Departure point is around the city center. Ask the locals. Sometimes not so easy to find the place... as different departure stops depending of the direction where you are going.
In some smaller towns there are vans stations.

Many white South Africans don´t recommend to take a "taxi". 

Black people are the normal customers of the "taxis".

But many “adventurous”travellers use them and say it´s safe and much cheaper than taking the bus... and real South Africa experience.

Buses in South Africa:
There are different companies. Most of them with new and good buses
The best option for long distances:

They also have international destinations (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique).
It´s possible to book online with most of the companies. And also to buy the tickets at the supermarkets.

 Prices vary a lot depending of the destinations, the month, offers, etc. 
For example, Jburg/Durban is around 200 R-8h(14 €), Jburg/Cape Town is around 600 R-19 h (43 €), Cape Town/Durban is 500 R-24h(35 €), Cape Town/Windhoek is 800 R-20 h (around 60 €).
Travelling in South Africa by bus is not as expensive as in Europe for exemple and still quite correct price.

Backpackers hop-on hop-off door to door bus. Interesting if travelling alone and staying at the backpackers´ hostels. 
Prices are: 1.700 R-7 days(120 €), 2.300 R-14 days(165 € ), 2.700 R-21 days (193 €).
Very popular for young travellers. Easy! Kind of "organised" tour...
They have different routes. Complete information on their website.

Flights in South Africa:
South Africa is a big country… so if you don´t have too much time flying can be interesting to save many hours on the bus.
The good news: now there are low-cost companies in South Africa and you can find flights from around 30 € one way.
Just check the websites:  Kulula, Flymango, Safair, Skywise, Fly Africa.
And the normal and biggest national airline, South African Airways
 Air Link has flights to Kruger airports and tourist places in Botswana, Mozambique...
Some of these companies, also have international destinations, like Victoria Falls-Livingstone, Zanzibar, Nairobi, Dar Es Salam...
Fastjet, low-cost from Tanzania, also has flights to Johannesburg. 
We didn´t use them, we rented a car and then travel by land to East Africa.

Trains in South Africa:
Good and safe for the long distances but quite limited net, just between main cities. People travel more by bus, less confortable for sure for long hours, specially black people don´t like so much taking long trips by train (because of the Apartheid time... used to relocate people...).

The Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger trains are convenient to connect Johannesburg with the main South Africa cities, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Johannesburg to Cape Town is around 50 €, similar to bus price.

Good local train system around Cape Town (Capemetrorail) to go to the Stellenbosch and and Simon´s Town (even second class, but always careful around townships) and the new Johannesburg-Pretoria Gautrain.

Also luxury trains, not for low-cost travellers.

No more international train connections, with Zimbabwe, Namibia or Botswana. Over!

Complete information about South Africa trains in Seat61


There are many companies that organise tours around South Africa and the neighbours countries. They are very popular for international tourists.
In average, it´s around 100 €/pp/day (airplane tickets not included) with accommodation (usually tents and no rooms for the first price), food and transport and limited activities.

Most of the companies use trucks (overlanders), full equipped.

We saw many Nomad tours, one of the biggest companies for East and Southern Africa.

We also met Piet in a campste, an independent business man, who has a small company,, many years driving tourists around.

For Spanish people, looking for a Spanish group and guide, Kananga is the big spanish Africa specialist.


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