British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and South African Airways all offer scheduled overnight, non-stop flights from the UK to gateway airports such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, and with less frequency to Durban and Port Elizabeth. Flying time is about 11hrs direct and Johannesburg is 2hrs ahead of the UK. Find the best flight deals with Expedia and Opodo.
A hire-car is the best method of travel for family holidays in South Africa, where the roads are generally well maintained and uncrowded. But distances can be huge, and many visitors use domestic flights for longer stretches. Some of the provinces are the size of European countries, so the road journey from Durban to Kruger wildlife park, for example, takes 2 days. A good domestic train network (Shosholoza Meyl) covers the major destinations, and their Tourist Class trains, which mostly run overnight, have comfortable if basic sleeping compartments. Shosholoza Meyl also has its own upmarket service, Première Classe, on major routes, and there’s also the ultra-luxurious and very expensive Blue Train (bluetrain.co.za) between Cape Town and Pretoria.