This route offers potentially one of the most worthwhile overland transits between any two points in South Africa. It is possible to drive either around the southwest rump of Swaziland, or through Swaziland itself, with both routes offering access to northern KwaZulu/Natal, the famed Valley of a Thousand Hills, and the wild reaches of Maputaland with is signature destinations of the St Lucia Westland Reserve and the dive meccas of Kosi and Sodwana Bay.
Of course you will miss all the scenic splendor if you fly, but if you have to then you will find that only South African Airways offers a regular scheduled and direct service between the two cities. Expect to pay between US$150 and US$170 for a one-way economy fare
The alternative to this is to route via Johannesburg which is possible on all of the main national Carriers:
1Time British Airways operating as Comair Interlink Airlines Kalula.com Mango South African Airways
Between Johannesburg and Durban a much more comprehensive service is available. The combined trip is likely to cost about US$300 plus, so it is not really a very cost effective option.
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None of the main coach operators in South Africa offer a direct online booking fare between Nelspruit and Durban so booking needs to either be via contact message or telephone, or directly through an agent.
TransLux InterCape Greyhound City to City (no frills coach booked thru TransLux) SA Roadlink (super luxury coaches) Citiliner
This is definitely the kind of trip that Baz Bus does well. It is a very roundabout way of getting there but from Nelspruit the trip winds its way through Swaziland, taking in St Lucia and all the towns and seaside settlements down the north KwaZulu/Nala coast to Durban.
The best way to get the most out of Baz Bus is their travel pass systems:
7 Day pass US$165 14 Day pass US$291 21 Day pass US$392
There is again no direct rail passenger service between these two cities. It would be necessary to use either Premier Class or Shosholoza to backtrack to Pretoria/Johannesburg and continue on from there direct to Durban.
Both cities offer excellent car hire facilities and this is definitely the way to make this journey. The direct distance between the two is 302 miles or 487 kms but if you opt for one of the scenic routes it could be longer than this.
Transiting through Swaziland would be a great option, but requires two formal boundary crossings. However the journey through Swaziland itself is not that long.
Travel down through KwaZulu/Natal is one of the top road journeys in South Africa, in particular in the Pongoland and Maputaland regions, although a sound bit of advice if you want scenic variety would be to avoid the coast highway and opt instead for smaller roads wherever possible.
>>take note of the high crime status of this region and avoid stopping or being stopped by anyone that is not clearly a police detail