Getting between Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg will require a full day of travel whether you opt to fly or drive. Your best travel option is to go by private transfer or rental car the entire way, as traveling by plane will take a similar amount of time—flights require a connection in Johannesburg, and there are a few hours of driving time after arriving at the airport in Pietermaritzburg or Durban.
Traveling by car for the duration of the trip eliminates the stress of layovers. This can be done either using a private transfer or a rental car. Depending on which entrance of the Kruger National Park you leave from, you can expect the drive to take under nine hours without stops.
Those who opt to fly will need to book a ticket from Skukuza or Phalaborwa airport (depending on which is closest to you) to Johannesburg. You will then take a connecting flight to either Durban or Pietermaritzburg and travel by rental car or private transfer for the rest of the way.
This 14-day itinerary offers a diverse range of travel experiences including the Drakensberg, Wild Coast, Kruger National Park, Cape Town, and more.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 8 - 8.5 hours
Traveling by car is the quickest way to get between Kruger National Park and the Drakensberg. A private transfer is your best option although car rental is easily available at both Phalaborwa Airport and Skukuza Airport. The duration of the trip depends on whether you leave Kruger National Park from the Skukuza entrance or the Phalaborwa entrance.
The quickest route from the Skukuza entrance takes eight hours without stops. You will leave via the R536 and R40 towards Hazyview. You will then travel along the N4, R36, N11, and R600 for the rest of the way. Hazyview, Nelspruit or Newcastle are good places to visit or stop at for lunch along the way. An alternative route option is to continue on the R40 after Nelspruit before turning onto the R38 near Barberton. The rest of the route will take you along the R541, N17, R33, R602, N11, and R600. This takes 30 minutes longer.
Those leaving from the Phalaborwa entrance can expect the trip to take at least seven hours without stops. One route option is to travel along the R40, R530, R36, N17, and the R600. Lydenburg is a good place to visit for lunch. An alternative route option is to turn onto the R540 after Lydenburg instead of continuing on the R36. Shortly after passing Belfast, you will turn onto the R38 which will take you to the Drakensberg.
Depending on where in the Drakensberg you are staying, you will be able to get around by car or on foot. Those who wish to explore hiking trails may need a car to get there.
By Plane and Car
Duration: 8 - 10 hours
Those who opt to travel by plane will need to get a connecting flight that goes via Johannesburg and you can book a ticket from either Phalaborwa or Skukuza to Johannesburg. You can then fly from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg. However, due to the infrequency of flights from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg, travelers may prefer booking a flight to Durban. This may prevent long layovers in Johannesburg although it will add an extra hour of driving time.
After arriving in Pietermaritzburg, travelers can either opt for a private transfer or rent a car at the airport for the rest of the trip. The best way to make this trip is via the N3 and R617 which takes approximately two hours. A good place to stop for lunch 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.