How to Book a Cost-Effective Easter Break in South Africa

Rear View Of Family Walking Towards Sea Silhouetted Against Sun
Gallivant Africa

The next big holiday is right around the corner, and if you are yet to lock in your much-needed Easter break, you’d better get cracking!

The Easter weekend falls on 7 – 10 April this year, and accommodation in South Africa’s most popular destinations is filling up fast with just a few weeks to go.

Luckily, there’s still time to put all your eggs into one basket and find that cost-effective Easter break.

Some questions you may be asking include:

“Is it cheaper to fly or drive?”
“Should we drive so that we have our own transport to get around?”
“What does a self-drive holiday include?”
“Airfares are usually really expensive over Easter. How do I get the best fares?”

The experts at Flight Centre share their tips for booking a cost-effective Easter escape, and how best to get to your chosen location: by car or by plane. Plus, they’ve shared some bestselling local Easter destination ideas.

To fly or drive?

The cheapest travel option depends on many factors. The most important? The number of people joining you on holiday.

Heading off on a solo adventure to a key city or hub? It’s definitely cheaper to fly.

Planning a couples’ retreat? It could go either way, depending on the fuel economy of your car and the distance you’re travelling.

Travelling with kids in tow? A road trip is certainly in order.

This time last year, Top Auto conducted an experiment on the flying versus driving question. The experiment focused on two popular routes: Johannesburg to Durban and Johannesburg to Cape Town.

Three cars, each with varying levels of fuel economy, were used:

  • Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi Double Cab 4×4 XLT Auto: 8.8l/100km
  • Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Xs: 8l/100km
  • VW Polo 1.0TSI 70kW Life: 5.4l/100km

For reference, any vehicle that consumes 6l/100km or less is considered ‘fuel efficient.’

When calculating the total travel cost, Top Auto examined the cost of fuel, e-tolls, and toll gates.

At the time, fuel costs were R19.55 per litre for Diesel 50ppm and R21.60 per litre for Petrol 95. They’re now R 21.72 per litre for Diesel 50ppm and R 22.95 per litre for Petrol 95. While more expensive, these values are unlikely to change the outcome of the experiment unless you’re driving a vehicle that consumes an exceptionally high amount of fuel.

The expenditure driving from Joburg to Durban looked like this for a round trip:
  • Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi Double Cab 4×4 XLT Auto: R2,668
  • Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Xs: R2,364
  • VW Polo 1.0TSI 70kW Life: R1,998

And like this for a round trip from Joburg to Cape Town:

  • Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi Double Cab 4×4 XLT Auto: R5,316
  • Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Xs: R4,602
  • VW Polo 1.0TSI 70kW Life: R3,744

Flight prices have fluctuated quite a lot since the experiment was conducted, and it’s important to remember that the cost of a round trip flight will differ from airline to airline. Plus, if booking now, the cost will be slightly elevated since Easter is only a few weeks away – hence why it’s always best to book in advance! That said, if booking via Flight Centre, flight prices per person for a round trip from Joburg to Durban, departing on Thursday, 6 April and returning on Tuesday, 11 April, are currently as follows*:

  • Airlink: R2,628
  • FlySafair: R2,253
  • Lift: R3,636
  • CemAir: R4,008
For the same dates, flight prices per person for a round trip from Joburg to Cape Town currently look like this:
  • Airlink: R6,585
  • FlySafair: R4,848
  • Lift: R6,140
  • CemAir: R7,060

Ultimately, the cost of fuel won’t increase significantly based on the number of passengers inside the vehicle, but you’ll obviously be paying for more flight tickets when flying as a family of three, four, or five.

Furthermore, while flying can be infinitely more convenient, self-drive holidays offer benefits like flexibility and more control over your itinerary. Plus, everyone loves a fun-filled family road trip!

However, if you’re determined to fly – after all, time is money – then it might be best to be more flexible with your dates to reduce flight costs.

For example, if you departed from Joburg to Cape Town just one week later, on Thursday, 13 April (to return on Tuesday, 18 April), you’re looking at R3,497 per adult return ticket (via FlySafair) as the cheapest option, and just R1,674 from Joburg to Durban (also via FlySafair) for the same dates.

Save on accommodation

Keep a lookout for all-inclusive holiday packages and special combo flight and accommodation deals on websites such as Flight Centre.

“The savings offered in these instances could certainly tip the scales regarding cost-effectiveness and your mode of travel, especially if the deal involves accommodation where kids under 12 years old stay for free,” advises Antoinette Turner, General Manager Flight Centre South Africa.

Many hotels and resorts offer interleading, larger or adjoining family rooms which can save you money.

Other cost-saving tips for Easter
  • If flying, buy extra baggage online and ahead of time. It’s cheaper than doing so at the airport.
  • Always check in online.
  • Pack your own snacks and entertainment.
  • Consider self-catering accommodation or go all-inclusive.

The best destinations for the Easter long weekend

The bush or the beach? The mountains or the Winelands? Our beautiful country has so much to offer. Here are a few enchanting holiday hotspots to consider moving to the top of your wish list this year:

The Kruger Park

If peace, quiet, and safari sophistication are on the agenda, you can’t go wrong with a Kruger Park retreat. April is a fantastic time for both game viewing and bird watching as it straddles the colourful ‘Green Season’ and the prime-time dry season.

Cape Town

South Africa’s Mother City is a long-standing Easter go-to. World-class restaurants, sprawling shopping centres, luxurious accommodation, and some of the country’s best-loved sights and landmarks – what more could you need?

The Pilanesberg

Big 5 safari adventures abound, the Pilanesberg is a dream for all nature lovers.

“It’s also right on Sun City’s doorstep, which is a huge selling point for those looking for a well-balanced vacation and keen to get their money’s worth,” says Turner. “Depending on your route, the Pilanesberg National Park and Sun City are approximately 20 kilometres apart.”

The Wild Coast

The Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape is another family-friendly location and a top choice amongst sun-seekers. If you’re not quite ready to welcome in the cooler weather, this is your chance to stretch your summer further. The average daytime temperature at the Wild Coast during April is 24°C.

Wherever you choose to Easter this year and however you get there, the best tip from the experts? Book as soon as possible! You won’t find better deals than those available now.

*at the time of writing this article

Gallivant Africa
Gallivant Africa hosts junior journalists and intern travel writers to share their stories and experiences with our audience. Read their stories and help them grow into leaders of the industry.

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