Getting between Cape Town and Durban

by Peter Baxter on August 13, 2009

by Peter Baxter | August 13th, 2009  

getting-around-south-africa2

This is potentially one of the most rewarding overland routes is South Africa, utilizing the famed Garden Route that wends its way along the beautiful seaboard of the Eastern Cape and the South Coast of KwaZulu/Natal. However, if you are in a hurry, then the other options are more prosaic.

Flights

Scheduled domestic connection between Cape Town and Durban are offered by all the main carriers, with either a direct flight or connections via Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. These are:

  • 1Time
  • British Airways operating as Comair
  • Interlink Airlines
  • Kalula.com
  • Mango
  • South African Airways
  • The cheapest operator for this flight has tended in the past to be kalula.com with SAA being the most expensive. A one way direct connection between Cape Town International Airport and Durban International can range between US$60 at the cheapest to US$130 at the top (economy).

    >>Durban International Airport is currently rated as the highest crime travel hub in the country

    Inter-city Coaches

    All the main overland and intercity coach and bus services work this route, and some of the best deals are found here. These are the main players:

  • TransLux
  • InterCape
  • Greyhound
  • City to City (no frills coach booked thru TransLux)
  • SA Roadlink (super luxury coaches)
  • Citiliner
  • The distance between Cape Town and Durban is 1272 km, or 790 miles. The coach journey takes about 20 hours with frequent stops en route. Coaches leave at a variety of times during the days, and since this is one of the premier touring routes in South Africa it is definitely worth scheduling your coach trip with as much daylight potential as possible.

    Costs vary considerably, but for a direct, one way fare between Cape Town and Durban expect to pay somewhere in between US$50 and US$70.

    >>Coaches arrive and depart from the main bus terminus at Cape Town train station in downtown Cape Town, and the main bus terminus at the Workshop on Commercial Street in downtown Durban

    The Baz Bus

    Baz Bus does the route, but thanks to its nature as a jump-off-jump-on tour bus option, it is not the best available deal on the road, with the price floating above US$100 for this trip. The Baz Bus coaches are also not ideally configured for long journeys, and being a stop/start type of trip it can take a long time.

    Trains

    There is no direct rail link between Cape Town and Durban so a lengthy journey from Cape Town to either Johannesburg or Bloemfontein, and then on to Durban is required. As a consequence travel between these two cities by train is likely to be extended and impractical. However Shosholoza Meyl does offer regular departures each way, and for this trip it is definitely advisable to book a sleeper.

    Fares on Shosholoza Meyl vary from month to month, but expect to pay the very reasonable price of between US$60 and US$80 for sleeper class on this trip

    Shosholoza FAQ

  • Bookings can be made 90-days in advance
  • Fares in fact vary by month
  • Travel is in a sleeper berth with a 2, 3, 4 or 6 berth capacity
  • Couples can request berths in a 2-berth compartment
  • Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillow, made up for you by the train attendant) is an extra US$5 or so per person. This is paid on the train
  • Children up to 9 (inclusive) travel at half fare
  • Returns are twice the one-way fare. There may be further reductions for students & seniors in off-peak periods, so ask when booking
  • Cars can be transported
  • Pets are not allowed on board, except guide dogs
  • Premier Class services are also available for this route, which is a more costly but significantly more comfortable option. This will set you back between US$160 and US$200

    Driving

    As with every route in South Africa with a few exceptions the most rewarding way to travel is independently by road. From Cape Town to Durban the main road route option follows the coast the entire way, moving through the classic Cape backcountry, along the Wild Coast and eventually up the sultry South Coast of KwaZulu Natal. This is known as the Garden Route an dis one of the world’s premier touring destinations.

    This is however a multi-day tour so not an option if you are in a hurry

    flights-from-cape-town


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