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Public roads are well developed and well sign-posted with driving done on the left. Drivers must have an international driver's license and a minimum of 5 years' experience. It is wise to drive defensively as standards vary. This is probably the best way to see the country.
An International Driving Permit is not compulsory, however, according to the Automobile Association (AA) the international drivers licence assist foreign motorists - particularly in the event of an accident where insurance claims will be handled. It is is a legal document, which endorses the licence.
British visitors who are planning to drive in South Africa should check with the AA or RAC prior to departure that they have all the correct documentation.
For flight schedules, rates and online bookings, see flights
There are frequent direct and indirect flights by numerous major airlines from destinations throughout Europe and North America.
Approximate flight times: From Cape Town to London is 12 hours 35 minutes, from Durban is 14 hours and from Johannesburg is 11 hours 50 minutes. From Johannesburg to Los Angeles is 23 hours (no direct flight available).
Cape Town (CPT) (Cape Town International), 22km (14 miles) east of the city (travel time 25 minutes). Airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, bank/bureau de change (08h30-16h30 Monday to Friday, 08h30-12h00 Saturday) and restaurant/bar (06h00-03h05). Inter-Cape buses meet all incoming and outgoing flights. Courtesy buses are operated by some hotels. Taxis are available, with a surcharge after 23h00.
Bloemfontein (BFN) (Bloemfontein International), 10km (6 miles) east of the city (travel time 15 minutes). Airport facilities include automatic teller machine, restaurants, car hire and conference facilities. Airport shuttle bus to the city centre (leaving from outside the airport building). Taxis are also available.
Durban (DUR) (Durban International), 16km (10 miles) south of the city (travel time 20 minutes). Airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, bank/bureau de change and bar/restaurant. Airport buses and taxis are available to the city.
Johannesburg (JNB) (OR Tambo International), 24km (15 miles) northeast of the city (travel time 35 minutes). Airport facilities include incoming and outgoing duty-free shops, post office, car hire, bank/bureau de change (24 hours), restaurant and bar (10h00-24h00). Bus services to Pretoria and Johannesburg are available as well as the Gautrain. Buses link Kempton Park with Johannesburg. Taxis are available. Courtesy coaches are operated by some major hotels.
Port Elizabeth (PLZ) (Port Elizabeth International) is 25km (16 miles) from the city (travel time 30 minutes). Airport facilities include Nedbank automated teller machine, conference facilities, information desk (0600-2200 Monday to Friday; 07h00-21h00 Saturday; 08h00-22h10 Sunday) restaurants and pubs, shops, a pharmacy, postal services, car hire. Airport shuttle bus to the main international hotels in Port Elizabeth. Taxis are also available.
Nelspruit (KMIA) (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport) is 22km (14 miles) from Nelspruit, 44km (28 miles) from the Numbi Entrance Gate of Kruger Park and within close vicinity of the major game lodges in the area. Recently opened, the airport facilities are created over a period of time. Transfers to private lodges can be arranged.
The main routes are from South Africa to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.
There are main routes into South Africa from Zimbabwe (via Beit Bridge) and Botswana (via Ramatlabama), Mozambique (now open after a long war check with local police about state of road and safety) Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
See also car rentals
Daily flights link Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Upington and Bloemfontein with other connecting flights to provincial towns. South African Airways plus low cost carriers operate on the principal routes.
Starlight Cruises offers links between major ports.
The principal intercity services are as follows:
- the Blue Train is a luxury express between Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town (every other day);
- the Trans-Oranje between Cape Town and Durban via Kimberley and Bloemfontein (weekly); and the
- Trans-Natal Express between Durban and Johannesburg (daily).
Rovos Rail offers luxury steam safaris to Mpumalanga and the Garden Route.
The Transnet Museum also offers various steam safaris around South Africa and Zimbabwe, and the Trans-Karoo Express travels between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria (four times a week).
All long-distance trains are equipped with sleeping compartments, included in fares, and most have restaurant cars. Reservations are recommended for principal trains and all overnight journeys. There are frequent local trains in the Cape Town and Pretoria/Johannesb
urg urban areas. All trains have first- and second-class accommodation.
Children under two years of age travel free. Children aged 2-11 pay half fare.
There is a well-maintained network of roads and motorways in populous regions. 30% of roads are paved (with all major roads tarred to a high standard). Traffic drives on the left.
Fines for speeding are very heavy. It is illegal to carry petrol other than in built-in petrol tanks. Petrol stations are usually open all week 0700-1900. Some are open 24 hours.
Various operators, such as Greyhound and Translux, run intercity express links using modern air-conditioned coaches.
On many of the intercity routes passengers may break their journey at any scheduled stop en route by prior arrangement at time of booking and continue on a subsequent coach at no extra cost other than for additional accommodation.
Available throughout the country, at all towns, hotels and airports, with rates for distance and time. For long-distance travel, a quotation should be sought.
Self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars are available at most airports and in major city centres. Avis, Imperial and Budget are represented nationwide.
See also car rentals
There are bus and suburban rail networks in all the main towns. Fares in Cape Town and Johannesburg are zonal, with payment in cash or with 10-ride pre-purchase 'clipcards' from kiosks.
In Pretoria there are various pre-purchase ticket systems, including a cheap pass for off-peak travel only. In Durban, conventional buses face stiff competition from minibuses and combi-taxis (both legal and illegal), which are also found in other South African towns.
These, although cheap and very fast, should be used with care. For ordinary taxis, fares within the city areas are more expensive than long distances. Taxis do not cruise and must be called from a rank. Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip.