Rolling Farmland - Western Cape - South Africa by Christopher Griner via Flickr Creative Commons

South Africa Taxis and Car Rental

Taxis do not typically cruise the streets of South Africa looking for fares so you’ll have to pick one up from a stand at the various airports or another transportation hub. Alternatively, hotel and restaurant staff can call one. Recommended companies include Marine Taxis (+27-861-434-0434) in Cape Town and Rose Taxis (+27-11-403-0000) in Johannesburg. They are relatively expensive in comparison to the shared minibuses that local South Africans generally use.

Outside the cities, rental cars or RVs are the best way to get around. Local and international suppliers have offices at most of the country’s airports and principal towns. Vehicles can be rented all year, but national holidays and peak holiday seasons require advanced booking.

South Africa Water Taxis

People wishing to get to South Africa by sea are limited to taking a cruise with a stopover in Cape Town on the RMS St Helena. This boat offers service between the Atlantic Ocean island of St Helena and Cape Town. River ferries operate in some domestic locations, like the Keurbooms, which offers a 2 hour, 30 minute cruise in the environs of the Garden Route’s Plettenberg Bay. Another popular sightseeing odyssey is the Sundays River cruise from Cannonville near Port Elizabeth.

South Africa Trains and Buses

Cheap minibus taxis operate on set routes in most towns and cities, but are poorly maintained, crowded and do not leave until all seats are filled. Intercity buses take advantage of the country’s comprehensive road network and travel to all, but the most remote locations. A few of the more reliable companies are Intercape Mainliner, Greyhound and SA Roadlink.

An alternate bus option for backpackers and tourists on a budget is the Baz Bus. These offer a hop-on, hop-off service from Cape Town along the Garden Route and north to Durban, as well as from Durban through the Drakensberg Mountains to Johannesburg. Baz Buses also stop at designated hostels along the way.

The state-owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is responsible for most of the public train services in the country. Primary destinations are linked by 21 routes on the Shosholoza Meyl network. These trains tend to be crowded and use archaic rolling stock. A totally different experience with a price tag to match is the twice-weekly Premier Classé service in each direction between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Another luxury tourist train is the Rovos Express, which offers a two-day African odyssey from Cape Town to Pretoria’s Rovos Station. The train offers sightseeing stops at Kimberley Diamond Mine Museum, historic Matjiesfontein and Worcester. They epitomize the golden age of rail, with wood-paneled carriages, elegant compartments and formal meals. Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is the country’s last steam train. It takes travelers on a 32 mile (52 km) stretch of the Garden Route between George and Mossel Bay.

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