Getting between Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth
This trip covers a little known quarter of South Africa from a travel point of view. The southeast of the country, or the northern section of the Eastern Cape Province where it borders the Orange Free State, is a mixed landscape of open grassland and mesa-type hill country mixed here and there with the dry and lonely expanses of baked earth, aloe and occasional copses of eucalyptus. It is not the most obvious choice of landscape to enjoy, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful and enigmatic regions of a fascinating country.
The only direct link between these two cities is offered by South African Airlink, a subsidiary of South African Airways. Besides this one-stop options are available at either Cape Town or Johannesburg using either Mango or South African Express. During special events such as the Fifa World Cup Soccer tournament and the Confederations Cup etc, special flights will usually be available, but these will mainly be to cope with additional traffic between Bloemfontein and either Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Expect to pay in the region of US$140 to US$160 for this flight.
Road travel is always word the effort in South Africa. There are a few exceptions to this, but the journey between Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth is not one of these. A very worthwhile trip, and one definitely to book during daylight hours.
Most of the main inter-city operators ply this route. These are:
Greyhound InterCape SA Roadlink (super luxury coaches) City to City (no frills coach booked thru TransLux)
Most buses between Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth originate in Gauteng, so they usually arrive in Bloemfontein at odd hours.
The distance between Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth is 542 kms or 337 miles. The journey usually takes between 9 to 10 hours. Expect to pay between US$30 and US$40 for this trip.
Baz Bus does not offer a direct version of this trip. Check out their schedule for variations.
Shosholoza Meyl offers economy and tourist class services between Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth, with trains originating in Johannesburg and Pretoria and passing through Bloemfontein en-route. This again means that connections are often at odd times, but not as odd as the inter-city coaches.
Expect to pay between US$15 and US$20 for a one way fare.
Bookings can be made 90-days in advance Fares in fact vary by month Travel is in a sleeper berth with a 2, 3, 4 or 6 berth capacity Couples can request berths in a 2-berth compartment Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillow, made up for you by the train attendant) is an extra US$5 or so per person. This is paid on the train Children up to 9 (inclusive) travel at half fare Returns are twice the one-way fare. There may be further reductions for students & seniors in off-peak periods, so ask when booking Cars can be transported Pets are not allowed on board, except guide dogs
If you are able to hire a car and take the time to drive this route you will be rewarded by one of the most beautiful and quintessential of South African landscape. The journey transects the Orange Freestate and the Eastern Cape through the heartland of rural South Africa.
>>Remember that South Africa is a high crime region, and the open road is not always safe. Be careful where you stop, and carry a cell phone. Ensure also that you have a rescue package in your car hire agreement