The quickest way to get between Johannesburg and the Drakensberg is by plane and car. This takes between two and three hours. Those who opt to fly can book a ticket to Pietermaritzburg and either self-drive or use a private transfer the rest of the way.
Traveling by car for the duration of the trip is only half a day’s drive. Most of this journey will be covered along the N3 highway, which offers travel convenience but includes little opportunity for site-seeing along the way. Technically, there is also the option to use a bus and private transfer, although this isn’t recommended.
This 25-day itinerary includes Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Mauritius, and more.
By Plane and Car
Duration: 2.5-3 hours
A flight from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg only takes one hour making this the quickest way of traveling. After arriving in Pietermaritzburg, travelers can easily rent a car or use a private transfer for the rest of the way. Depending on where about in the Drakensberg you are staying—there may be gravel roads—making a private transfer ideal.
You will leave Pietermaritzburg via the N3 and eventually turn onto the R617 which will take you into the Drakensberg. A recommended lunch stopover en route is the Picklepot Café. This drive also takes you through the Midlands Meander which boasts an array of attractions worth visiting including the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick Falls, and the Karkloof Canopy Tours. Day 11 of this itinerary offers more details on exploring the Midlands.
After arriving in the Drakensberg, it can be useful to have access to a car for travelers who hope to visit different hiking routes, which are often far away from each other.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 4.5 hours
Those who opt to travel by car for the duration of the trip can easily rent a car in Johannesburg or arrange a private transfer.
You will leave Johannesburg on the N17 highway before turning onto the N3 highway. Most of the drive is along the N3 highway. Harrismith is a good place to stop at for lunch en route. After Harrismith, you will turn onto the R74 for the last hour and a half of the journey, until you arrive in the Drakensberg.
This route includes tolls and travelers who self-drive should keep cash or a credit accessible.
By Bus and Private Transfer
Duration: 7 hours
This option is not recommended. Travelers will need to book a bus ticket in advance from Johannesburg to Estcourt and book a private transfer for the rest of the way. Those who opt to use the bus should be aware of their safety and book a ticket that arrives in daylight. We also recommend that travelers arrange their private transfer in advance due to the fairly remote location of Estcourt.