Modes of Transport in South Africa - Flights to Africa

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Modes of Transport in South Africa

Transport is the heartbeat of South Africa’s economic growth and social development!

South Africa has a modern and well-developed transport infrastructure. The air and rail networks are the largest on the continent, and the roads in good condition. The country’s ports provide a natural stopover for shipping to and from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australasia and both coasts of Africa. Here is a list of the modes of Transport in South Africa to help your stay there.


South Africa’s total road network is about 747000 km, the longest network of roads of any African country. These roads are all in considerably good condition and can connect almost the entire country.

There are two options when you wish to travel by road – Public Transport and Self-Driven.

The Department of Transport is responsible for regulation of Transportation in South Africa, while road-building and maintenance is the responsibility of the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) as well as the nine provinces and local governments.

Shared Minibus Taxi in South Africa
Passengers boarding Shared Minibus Taxi

The Shared Minibus Taxi is the most popular mode of transport in South Africa to travel even between two remote areas. This is followed by Johannesburg’s successful Bus Rapid Transport System (BRT). It is now being adapted and implemented in other South African cities, including Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

South Africa is one of the world’s great countries for a road trip. Away from the main bus and taxi routes, having your own wheels can be a good way to get around. And if you’re in a group, renting a car is often the most economical mode of transport in South Africa as road maps are very helpful & easily available.


South Africa has a well developed rail network – 14th largest in the world, that connects all the major centres and also many towns in between. Around 2.2-million people travel by train every day in South Africa. Metrorail commuter services can be found in Cape Town, the Eastern Cape Province, Durban, and greater Johannesburg and Pretoria, focusing mainly on poorer South Africans.

The Blue Train on a scenic route in South Africa
The Blue Train

Tourists and well-heeled passengers can travel on the Blue Train, one of the world’s most famous luxury trains, while Shosholoza Meyl transports passengers between the country’s major cities. The Gautrain, Africa’s only high-speed train, was opened just days before the start of the World Cup in 2010. Servicing Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport, it is supported by a network of feeder buses.

An exciting initiative that will be ideal for tourists is the Hop on Hop Off Metroplus rail pass. This allows you unlimited travel in the train for an entire day; you can get off and on at any station. The cost is also very reasonable.


South Africa’s 10 airports handle more than 98% of the country’s commercial traffic. In 2012, South African Airways (SAA) was voted the best airline in Africa for the 10th year in a row by UK global aviation research organisation Skytrax.

The major airports with domestic & international services are OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, Cape Town International, Port Elizabeth International and the new airport, King Shaka International, outside Durban. The other smaller airports are domestic airports: East London, George, Kimberley, Upington and Pilanesberg.

Kulula Low Cost Domestic Airplane in South Africa – Low cost domestic air carrier

Several low-cost airlines operate within South Africa, commuting passengers between cities. When planning a journey in South Africa it is important to check up on local airfares, and compare them to the price of a bus or train ticket over the same distance. Remember also that the further in advance you book, the cheaper the airfare should be.