The quickest way to travel the 900 miles (1448 km) between Cape Town and the Drakensberg is by plane and car. This takes approximately four hours. There is also the option to travel by car for the duration of the trip and explore some of South Africa’s top locations. Those who opt for this method of travel should split the journey into at least two days of traveling.
Those who choose to fly can book their ticket from Cape Town to Durban or Pietermaritzburg and use a private transfer or rental car for the rest of the way. There are two route options for travelers that drive the whole way. The best-recommended option takes you along the Garden Route. An alternative, slightly shorter route option, is to travel inland through the Karoo region.
This diverse 15-day itinerary includes many of South Africa’s top destinations including the Garden Route, Wild Coast, Drakensberg, Kruger National Park, and more.
By Plane and Car
Duration: 4+ hours
This is the most time-efficient way to make the trip. The most convenient airport to fly to is Pietermaritzburg. However, direct flights to this airport are infrequent, and travelers may need to book a flight to Durban. A flight from Cape Town to Durban takes just under two hours.
After arriving in Pietermaritzburg or Durban, travelers can either use a private transfer or rent a car from the airport. The best way to make the trip from Pietermaritzburg is via the N3 and R617 which takes just under two hours. A recommended lunch stopover en route is the Picklepot Café. Travelers who arrive from Durban will also leave via the N3 which will take you past Pietermaritzburg and onto the R617 towards the Drakensberg. Traveling from Durban adds an additional 40 minutes of driving time.
After arriving in the Drakensberg, having access to a car is ideal in terms of getting between various hiking trails and sightseeing spots.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 2 days
Traveling by car for the entire trip offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities although it is time-consuming and we recommend travelers split the journey over at least two days. Both private transfers and rental cars are easily available in Cape Town.
The best-recommended option, which takes travelers through the famous Garden Route, is 18 hours without stops. Those who opt for this route option will travel along the N2 highway for most of the trip before driving along the R56 and R617 in KwaZulu-Natal. Travelers may want to factor in a few days of travel time to explore spots along the Garden Route like Mossel Bay, Knysna, Tsitsikamma National Park, Addo Elephant Park, and much more. Recommended places to stop overnight are Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, or East London.
A second route option, which takes approximately 15 hours without stops, travels inland through the Karoo and offers the chance to explore different parts of South Africa. This route will take travelers along the N1 highway for most of the route before turning onto the N5 highway and eventually the R74. A good overnight spot, which is a 30-minute detour, is Nieu Bethesda—a charming village famous for The Owl House Museum.