South Africa is an important hub for air travel in the Southern African region. The country’s flag carrier, South Africa Airways (SAA), has an extensive global and pan-African network of connections, some of which are operated by its short-haul subsidiaries SA Airlink and SA Express.
South Africa has 10 international airports. The primary intercontinental hub is O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg; the secondary is Cape Town International. They serve as gateways for tourists and foreign visitors, as well as hubs for travel within South Africa and Southern Africa in general.
Direct flights arrive from the main European centres, including: Amsterdam, Athens, Madrid, London, Paris, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Lisbon. Direct flights are also available from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, New York, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Perth. You may also want to take a look at discount airlines in Africa.
All major airports in South Africa used to be state-owned but have been privatised and are now managed by the Airports Company of South Africa. Durban International Airport is the third largest airport. Regular flights to/from: Blantyre, Cairo, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa, Maputo, Manzini, Maun, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Windhoek.
Note: Luggage theft at airports is common, especially at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Therefore, avoid packing valuables such as jewellery and expensive equipment in your main luggage if you can, and put them in your hand luggage.
A real adventure is flying in an old classic airliner. There are some tour operators that offer such flights, mainly in the Gauteng region.
Some popular services are:
- Cape Town to Gaborone – SA Express Mondays and Fridays
- Cape Town to Maun – Direct on Monday and Friday
- Cape Town to Mauritius – Thursday and Saturday with Air Mauritius
- Cape Town to Walvis Bay – Sunday to Friday on SA Express
- Cape Town – Windhoek – daily with SA Airlink and Air Namibia
- Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg – daily with SAA and Air Tanzania
- Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam – daily with SAA and Air Tanzania
- Johannesburg to Gaborone – Daily flights with SA Express
- Johannesburg to Kilimanjaro – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday with Air Tanzania
- Johannesburg to Lusaka – daily with SAA
- Johannesburg to Maputo – Daily flights with SAA or Mozambican airlines.
- Johannesburg to Mauritius – daily with either SAA or Air Mautirius
- Johannesburg to Maun – Daily Flights
- Johannesburg to Maseru – Daily flights with SAA Airlink
- Johannesburg to Nairobi – daily with either SAA or Kenya Airways
- Johannesburg to Seychelles – Tuesday and Saturday with Air Seychelles
- Johannesburg to Swaziland – daily with SA Airlink
- Johannesburg to Victoria Falls – daily with SAA and BA
- Johannesburg to Walvis Bay – Sunday to Friday with SA Express
- Johannesburg to Windhoek – Daily with SAA, BA, Comair, and Air Namibia
- Johannesburg to Zanzibar – Tuesday and Sunday with SAA. Daily connecting flight via Dar es Salaam.
- Gaborone to Cape Town – SA Express Mondays and Fridays
- Gaborone to Johannesburg – Daily flights with SA Express
- Kilimanjaro to Johannesburg – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday with Air Tanzania
- Lusaka to Johannesburg – daily with SAA
- Maputo to Johannesburg – Daily flights with either SAA or Mozambique Airlines.
- Maseru to Johannesburg – Daily flights with SAA Airlink
- Maun to Cape Town – Direct on Thursday and Sunday
- Maun to Johannesburg – Daily Flights
- Mauritius to Johannesburg – daily with either SAA or Air Mautirius
- Mauritius to Cape Town – Thursday and Saturday with Air Mauritius
- Nairobi to Johannesburg – daily with either SAA or Kenya Airways
- Seychelles to Johannesburg – Tuesday and Sunday with Air Seychelles
- Swaziland to Johannesburg – daily with SA Airlink
- Victoria Falls to Johannesburg – daily with SAA and BA
- Walvis Bay to Johannesburg – Sunday to Friday with SA Express
- Walvis Bay to Cape Town – Sunday to Friday on SA Express
- Windhoek to Johannesburg – daily with SAA, BA, Comair and Air Namibia
- Windhoek to Cape Town – daily with SA Airlink and Air Namibia
- Zanzibar to Johannesburg – Tuesday and Sunday with SAA. Daily connecting flight via Dar es Salaam.
If you are entering from one of the other southern African countries, you can do so by car. A number of land border posts are being operated by South Africa both between itself and its immediate neighbors. Among the most widely used ones are:
- Skilpadsnek (On the N4, 54 km from Zeerust), +27 18 366-1469. 6AM-10PM.
Border with Lesotho
- Maseru Bridge (15 km from Ladybrand on the N8 towards Maseru), +27 51 924-4004. Open 24 hours.
- Ficksburg Bridge (just outside Ficksburg), +27 51 933-2760. Open 24 hours.
- Sani Pass (in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg Park), +27 51 430-3664. 8AM-4PM.
- Lebombo (on the N4 between Nelspruit and Maputo), +27 13 790-7203. 6am to 10pm.
- Kosi Bay (R22 btwn Hluhluwe and Ponta do Ouro), +27 35 592-0251. 8am-4pm.
- Nakop (132 km/82 mi from Upington on the N10 towards Ariamsvlei), +27 54 571-0008. Open 24 hours.
- Vioolsdrift (on the N7 N of Springbok), +27 27 761-8760. Open 24 hours.
- Oshoek (120 km from Ermelo on the N17 towards Mbabane), +27 17 882-0138. 7.00-10.00 AM.
- Beit Bridge (on the N1 about 16 km/10 mi N of Messina), +27 15 530-0070. Open 24 hours.
Opening hours are often extended during South African public holidays. For a list of ports of entry and more information, please contact South African Border Information Service or +27 086 026-7337.
With most of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises, serving Cape Town as one of their destinations, you may want to try something different.
RMS St Helena. This passenger/cargo ship is the last working Royal Mail Ship and stops in Cape Town on its way to St Helena. It is one of the few remnants from the once great era of ocean liners.