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Language: English | Currency: Rand (R) | Local time: SAST | Avg. Flight time: 12 hrs
Flights without a stop usually take around 11 or 12 hours depending on which city you’re flying into, and are usually overnight. There’s very little time difference between the UK and South Africa, so you should be able to start enjoying your holiday straight away without worrying about jet-lag.
You can fly direct from London Gatwick (LGW) or London Heathrow (LHR) to Johannesburg’s airport, called OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), or to Cape Town International Airport (CPT).
There are a multitude of airlines flying non-stop from London to Cape Town and Johannesburg, including British Airways, South African Airways, Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and South African Airways fly all year round, but Thomas Cook only puts flights on to Cape Town three times a week from December until March.
To get to other South African airports, such as Durban or Port Elizabeth, you will usually need to stop at OR Tambo. The airport acts as a hub for the majority of both international and domestic travel in South Africa, with 28 million passengers passing through each year.
Currently there are no direct flights from airports outside of London to either Cape Town or Johannesburg, so it often makes more sense to travel to London and take a non-stop flight. However, there are many multi-stop options that depart from other UK airports, which can often work out to be the cheapest way to get there.
For example, travelling with Emirates from a choice of six UK airports means you could fly to Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban (DUR) with a stopover in Dubai. There’s a variety of other airlines to go for if you’re happy to make a stopover, including Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, KLM and Ethiopian Airlines, which serve several different departure points around the UK.
These will often be much cheaper than direct flights, the prices of which can soar to thousands of pounds in busier seasons such as the school holidays.
If you’re flying back from Johannesburg, try to vacuum-wrap your luggage and keep valuables in your carry-on luggage, as thefts in the airport have been known to happen.
British passport holders do not need a visa to enter South Africa. However, the immigration authorities require that parents travelling with those under 18 must show the child’s birth certificate (or a certified copy) which must clearly list the child’s details and both parents’ details.
In addition, you must have a return ticket, and your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure and have at least two blank pages for entry stamps.
Looking to visit South Africa? Make sure to check out our Tips and Advice first