The travel time from Johannesburg to the Eastern Cape, South Africa’s third-biggest province, is largely dependent on where you are going and your travel method. A flight to Port Elizabeth, East London or Mthatha takes approximately one and a half hours. If you are traveling further, you can expect some driving time on the other end. After arriving at the airport, travelers can either arrange a private transfer or rent a car.
The driving route will also vary—but you can estimate the trip to take between eight hours to two days—depending on where you are going. Traveling over two days can offer travelers the chance to drive through KwaZulu-Natal and explore the Midlands Meander. Traveling by bus is also an option although this is not recommended.
This 17-day itinerary includes exploring the Garden Route, Chintsa, Addo, the Wild Coast, the Drakensberg, and more.
By Plane and Car
Duration: 1.5+ hours
Traveling by plane is the quickest way to get to the Eastern Cape. There are three recommended airports in the province and the flight duration to all airports is approximately an hour and a half. The airport in Port Elizabeth is the nearest to the Garden Route and spots like Addo, Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay, or Kenton-on-Sea. Alternatively, travelers can fly to East London airport which is closest to Hogsback, Stutterheim, Morgans Bay, and Port Alfred. Those visiting the Wild Coast which includes Hole in the Wall and Coffee Bay are best off flying to the airport in Mthatha.
After arriving, travelers can rent a car or use a private transfer to get around the province. The driving distance from the airport to these different locations will vary depending on where you are going. Those visiting the Wild Coast are recommended to use a private transfer due to the bad road conditions in this area.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 8+ hours
The quickest way to get into the Eastern Cape by car is by leaving on the N1 highway and traveling through Bloemfontein. Travelers will then travel on the R58, R390, R401, and R344. This route option is best for travelers staying inland at spots like Hogsback or Mount Zebra National Park. The travel duration will vary but you can expect between eight and nine hours of driving without stops. Alternatively, travelers driving towards Port Elizabeth can continue on the N1 after Bloemfontein and turn onto the N9 near Colesburg and eventually the N10 highway.
Those traveling to the Wild Coast can estimate at least 12 hours of driving without stops which we recommend is broken up over two days. You will drive on the N3 highway until you reach Pietermaritzburg where you will turn onto the R617 and eventually the N2 highway. A recommended overnight stopover is Nottingham Road or Dargle in the Midlands Meander.
There are alternative route options for all destinations which may take longer. Your route may also have to be adjusted depending on where in the Eastern Cape you are driving to. When exploring the province, travelers should also be aware of gravel roads in certain areas like Nieu Bethesda and Addo. The Wild Coast region is also prone to traffic congestions and holes in the road.
Duration: 16+ hours
This option is not recommended because of the long travel distance. Those who opt to use the bus can book a ticket to Port Elizabeth, East London, Grahamstown, Mthatha, Stutterheim, and a few other towns. The duration of the trip will vary depending on the town but travelers can expect delays. We also recommend that you book a ticket that arrives in daylight and arrange a private transfer in advance for safety reasons.