In the next few posts I’m going to outline our current proposed route from Cape Town to Cairo in detail. I’ve divided it into three legs to make it more manageable:

  • Cape Town to Victoria Falls
  • Victoria Falls to Moyale
  • Moyale to Cairo

This post will focus on the first leg. Based on our research so far, this seems to be the relatively easy part of the journey.

Currency conversions are rounded up to the nearest Australian dollar.

Cape Town to Victoria Falls

Cape Town to Johannesburg (Train)

Shosholoza Meyl operates several long-distance trains throughout South Africa, including from Cape Town to Johannesburg Park station. The economy/tourist class train departs three times a week, with the significantly more expensive ‘Premier Classe’ departing once a week.

Because the economy/tourist class train is much cheaper, we’ll probably take that one. The prices below are for a sleeper ticket in a two-berth coupe (tourist-class and Premier Classe, the latter being reportedly twice as spacious as the former).

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Wed, Fri, Sun 09:05 +1d 17:59 32h 54m 1,530 km ZAR 690 ($69)
Tue 09:05 +1d 11:45 26h 40m 1,530 km ZAR 3120 ($312)

Johannesburg to Pretoria (Train)

Gautrain runs a commuter train from Johannesburg Park station to Pretoria every 10–30 minutes (depending on time and day) between 5:30 am and just after 9:00 pm. Fares don’t seem to vary between peak, off-peak and weekend times.

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Every 10–30m +34m 34m 70 km ZAR 75 ($8)

We could stay in Johannesburg instead of Pretoria, but travel advice is generally that Pretoria is a safer place to stay (though how much safer exactly seems to be a matter of debate).

Pretoria to Gaborone (Bus)

Intercape operates a daily bus from Pretoria (I recall it comes from Johannesburg first) to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. The ticket price below is for the most expensive ‘full flexi’ ticket that allows cancellations up to 12 hours before departure and changes up to 15 minutes before departure for a 10% fee.

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Daily 13:30 19:45 6h 15m 360 km ZAR 340 ($34)

Gaborone to Francistown (Train)

Botswana Railways operates a daily overnight train from Gaborone to Francistown, near the border with Zimbabwe. The price below is for a first-class coupe or compartment sleeper ticket.

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Daily 21:35 +1d 06:10 8h 35m 435 km BWP 244 ($33)

Francistown to Bulawayo (Train)

Although the Botswana Railways website doesn’t list a train from Francistown to Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), I contacted them and they sent me the schedule. It seems that because it’s not a sleeper, you can’t book tickets online in advance. Apparently the train is rarely if ever busy, so getting a ticket shouldn’t be an issue.

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Daily 07:00 12:30 5h 30m 196 km BWP 70 ($10)

Bulawayo to Victoria Falls (Train)

The National Railways of Zimbabwe operates a daily train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls (both the name of the town and the actual waterfalls nearby), though the actual timetable is difficult to find. Reservations can only be made at the station, and the time of arrival varies due to a number of factors and can reportedly take as long as 15 hours. The price below is for a first-class sleeper ticket based on the most recent prices.

Departing Arriving Time Distance Fare
Daily 19:30 +1d 08:55 13h 25m 472 km USD 20 ($31)

Route summary

The travel time below obviously doesn’t include our planned stops and necessary waiting times, but the only point where we’d absolutely have to stop overnight would be Pretoria. Theoretically, however, it would be possible to cover the 3,053 kilometres from Cape Town to Victoria Falls within 96 hours.

Trip Mode Time Distance Cost PP
Cape Town–Johannesburg Train 32h 54m 1,530 km $69
Johannesburg–Pretoria Train 34m 60 km $8
Pretoria–Gaborone Bus 6h 15m 360 km $34
Gaborone–Francistown Train 8h 35m 435 km $33
Francistown–Bulawayo Train 5h 30m 196 km $10
Bulawayo–Victoria Falls Train 13h 25m 472 km $31
  TOTAL: 67h 13m 3,053 km $185.00

More posts in this series