Traveling between Cape Town and the Eastern Cape can take anything from one hour by plane to two days by car. The distance also depends on where about in the Eastern Cape, which is the third biggest province in South Africa, you are traveling to.
Traveling by plane, to either Port Elizabeth or East London, offers great convenience. After arriving in one of these airports, you can either self-drive or use a private transfer to get around the province. Traveling by rental car or private transfer the whole way is also a great option for those hoping to explore more of the country. This trip can range between eight hours to two days—depending on whereabout you are traveling to. Technically, there is also the option to take the bus to Port Elizabeth or East London, although this isn’t recommended.
This 21-day itinerary includes the Garden Route, Oudtshoorn, the Wild Coast, and more.
By Plane and Car
Duration: 1+ hours
The two main airports in the Eastern Cape are in Port Elizabeth and East London. There are three other, smaller airports, closer to the Wild Coast region in Mthatha, Bisho, and Queenstown. Since there are no direct flights between Cape Town and the smaller airports—it may be more convenient to fly to Port Elizabeth or East London and traveling by car for the rest of the way.
All of the airports have the option of car rental. Alternatively, travelers can use a private transfer to get around the province.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 8.5+ hours
You can expect the drive to take at least eight hours—to get to towns like Port Elizabeth or Graaff-Reinet—which can be done in one day. However, those traveling further along the coast to spots like Hole in the Wall or Coffee Bay, need to factor in at least two days of driving.
The best route when traveling by car is along the N2 highway through the Garden Route. Good places to explore on the Garden Route include Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Addo, the Tsitsikamma region, and more. Those who opt for this route need to keep cash or a credit card accessible for pay tolls.
Those traveling inland will drive along the N1 highway and R60. This route takes travelers to Nieu Bethesda, Mount Zebra National Park, or Graaff-Reinet. This drive can also be done along the R60 and R62. Oudtshoorn and Barrydale are great places to visit en route.
After arriving in the Eastern Cape, travelers should be aware of traffic congestions and holes in the road, particularly in the Wild Coast region. Certain areas like Addo and Nieu Bethesda have gravel roads.
This travel option is not recommended. The main bus terminals are in Port Elizabeth and East London. Travelers should be aware of bus delays which may make the trip longer. After arriving in the Eastern Cape, those traveling further can arrange private transfers.