Getting between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth


Getting around SA

Port Elizabeth is the second city of the Eastern Cape province, and although not technically a feature of the famed Garden Route, is nonetheless on the eastern extremity of this most lovely of South African regions. This is the Windy City, a mecca for aquatic sports and one of the liveliest and most energetic cities in South Africa.

Flights

Four South African internal domestic flight carriers offer direct scheduled flights between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. These are :

  • 1Time
  • British Airways operating as Comair
  • Kalula.com
  • South African Airways

South African Airways has the record of offering the cheapest option on this flight, but expect to pay between US$170 and US$200 for a one way connection at economy rates.

Inter-city Coaches

Most of the inter-city coaches for this route originate in Pretoria and pick-up in Johannesburg on the way through. All the main coach operators offer a version of this route and some of the best deals between the cities can be found here.

>>Citiliner bus does not offer a direct, through option to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg and is instead routed via Cape Town

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The distance between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth is 895 kms or 556 miles. The bus route usually takes about 13/14 hours to complete with about 15 stops en-route. Services offered are often overnight, but if you can manage it travel during daylight hours because a panorama of the bleakly beautiful heartland of rural central South Africa is an added benefit of this trip.

Expect to pay between US$55 and US$65 for this journey

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.

There are two route options on offer with Baz Bus. The first is 3-days via Swaziland and 2-days via Drakensberg. Both are worthwhile if you have time on your hands.

Trains

Shosholoza Meyl is the only direct passenger trail service operating between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. The route runs through Bloemfontein. Expect to pay between US$25 and US$45 for this trip depending on whether you use tourist or sleeper.

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

>>Tourist class in not recommended for this trip
>>Try and make a point of daylight travel since this is one of the most worthwhile overland journeys in South Africa

Driving

If you have the wherewithal to hire a car for your South African trip then you will be in for a treat if you opt to drive this route. There are a variety of different options that you can choose but the best part of the route lies south east of Bloemfontein along the western border of Lesotho and through rural Eastern Cape.

An enormous diversity of natural and human landscapes are waiting to be discovered, and although not as well appointed as the Midlands Meander or the Garden Route this is definitely one of the more rewarding quarters of South Africa for motor touring.

>>There are so many potential local variations to choose from it is worthwhile researching in advance which route would suit you best