Later this year, I intend to spend 2-3 months in Europe, then want to go to Capetown, South Africa to visit a friend there. Keeping costs down is important. Travel time is not--in fact, a longer travel time could actually be enjoyable (assuming there are things to see along the way)!

My order of priorities when selecting a travel method (or methods) would be:

  • Safety I'm not interested in hitch-hiking through a war zone, for instance.
  • Cost The cheaper the better
  • Scenery/travel experience Flying would probably be the least attractive option by this criteria

I will not have a vehicle, but that doesn't mean renting a vehicle would be out of the question--assuming a rental can be driven through the requisite countries.

As I must eat the same quantity of food, and sleep the same number of hours whether I am traveling or not, I do not consider normal food or lodging expenses part of the travel expense unless they are more costly than they would be while staying in another city.

If I were to travel by train, for instance, where my only option for food was over-priced diner car food, I would consider that a relevant travel expense.

  • 1
    So why do you ask for the "cheapest" way in the title? I am pretty sure flying will be the cheapest if you add all the costs like food, accommodation etc. on the way (on top of the transport costs). Even if you don't then I wouldn't be surprised at all if flight will prove to be the cheapest.
    – Grzenio
    Mar 22 '12 at 16:40
  • @Grzenio: That may well be true... in which case that would make for an excellent answer. But to answer your question: The reason I ask for the cheapest way, is because I'm interested in finding the cheapest way...
    – Flimzy
    Mar 22 '12 at 20:46
  • Watching with interest, as it's in my vague future plans too...
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 25 '12 at 21:19

The cheapest way to get from Europe to South Africa is, easily, flying. Booking and flying at the right time can easily get you a roundtrip for under 800 USD, sometimes even less.

Not taking into account safety, nor taking into account additional costs for simply being in transit (that is, food and accommodation), just the sheer cost of all the visas you'd need for traveling overland through Africa will already make up a significant chunk of that 800 USD. And, if you're from the 'wrong' country, the total visa cost could even exceed 800 USD.

Then, the distance you'd have to travel overland is, at best, some 10000 kilometers each way. Even with the cheapest forms of transport, this will cost you several hundreds of dollars, in each direction.

So, the total cost of flying will be less, if not much, much less, than traveling overland.


I strongly recommend flight, which is usually via Johannesburg. Cape Town is safer than other places in South Africa, and in general South Africa is safer than other countries in Africa. Don't put your trip in risk in favor budget. Africa can be safe and dangerous, and there is no guarantee for neither.

  • 2
    Downvoted because this specifically what the OP didn't want to know.
    – Ankur Banerjee
    Mar 25 '12 at 17:04
  • 4
    @Ankur: upvoted, because it really is what OP wanted to know. For long distance traveling, flight simply is the cheapest option. Mar 25 '12 at 21:55
  • 1
    @MichaelBorgwardt Thanks! I've traveled by ground in Africa. The OP wanted to know the opinion of others, and I believe he will regret his trip, as it is not what he actually thought. People usually have an illusion of adventure.
    – Googlebot
    Mar 26 '12 at 2:28
  • @Ali: As long as I arrive at my destination, I won't regret my trip.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 26 '12 at 4:58
  • 2
    I have to agree with @AnkurBanerjee, that this answer does not address my question. If a statement were added to the effect that "flight is also the cheapest," then it would at least answer the question, even if the main motivation behind the answer is convenience/safety. But as it is, the answer doesn't really even make mention of price at all.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 27 '12 at 19:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.