Greyhound, Intercape Mainliner, and Translux operate extensive bus networks that serve all major cities. The buses are comfortable, sometimes there are videos, and tea and coffee are served on board. Travel times can be long; for example, Cape Town to Johannesburg takes 19 hours. Johannesburg to Durban, at about seven hours, is less stressful. The Garden Route is less intense if you take it in stages, but the whole trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth takes 12 hours. Buses are usually pretty punctual. Greyhound and Intercape buses can be booked directly or through Computicket.
For travelers with a sense of adventure, a bit of time, and not too much money, the Baz Bus runs a daily hop-on/hop-off door-to-door service between backpackers' hostels around South Africa and other countries in the region. The rates are a bit higher than for the same distance on a standard bus, but you can break the journey up into a number of different legs, days or weeks apart, and the bus drops you off at some hostels so you don't need to find taxis, shuttles, or lifts. The Baz Bus offers both 7-day and 14-day unrestricted packages, an especially useful service if you're planning a long leg followed by a few short ones before returning to your starting point.
It is illegal to smoke on buses in South Africa.
Approximate one-way prices for all three major bus lines are R530–R630 Cape Town to Tshwane (Pretoria), R320–R360 Cape Town to Springbok, R260–R370 Cape Town to George, R380–R510 Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, R250–R350 Johannesburg to Durban, and R600–R750 Cape Town to Durban. Baz Bus also runs direct routes between cities, with prices comparable to those of major bus lines.
Baz Bus. 021/422–5202; 086/122–9287; www.bazbus.com.
Computicket. 0861/915–8000; www.computicket.co.za.
Greyhound. 083/915–9000; www.greyhound.co.za.
Intercape Mainliner. 021/380–4400; www.intercape.co.za.
Translux. 0861/589–282; www.translux.co.za.