The best vehicle for small transfers of four to six passengers, say players in the road transfer business, is a 13-14 seater.

Anne Briggs, owner of Mpumalanga-based Mfafa Safaris, which offers interlodge and lodge airport transfers, as well as day tours in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and surrounds, recommends a small 13-seater minibus, as the vehicle can be configured into an eight-seater, making room for luggage and doing away with the need for a trailer.

Similarly, Andrew Iles of Ashtons Tours, Safaris & Shuttles, whose core business is private transfer services, most commonly for groups of four to six, utilises Toyota Quantum 14-seater vehicles for all long-haul, affording comfort and plenty of space.

Briggs’ choice is also guided by the state of the roads her vehicles travel. “Many are gravel roads and not always that well maintained, so it’s important that the vehicle has adequate road clearance to ensure a comfortable transfer.”

In July, Ashtons Tours, Safaris & Shuttles added two new Toyota Quantum 14-seaters to its fleet, each with its own large luggage trailer. The expansion was necessary to keep pace with consistently growing demand for the operator’s Kruger shuttle and private transfer products.  

Photo credit: Ashtons Tours, Safaris & Shuttles.

“The Kruger Shuttle: Hoedspruit has now received bookings for over 53 000 passengers since 2010 and the peak transfer period of August-October is anticipated to average at 1 200-1 400 long-haul transfer passengers per month,” comments Iles.

Further fleet expansion will take place during October, in time for the commencement of the Kruger Shuttle: Hazyview service, which will offer daily return transfers between OR Tambo and Skukuza from November 1 onwards.

Photo credits: Mfafa Safaris.

Mfafa Safaris offers both budget and luxury services. On budget transfers, trips may be shared with other clients heading for the same destination.  For luxury groups, the company has a luxury SUV vehicle available for a maximum of four passengers. The company also offers vehicle hire with guide as a private service.

All transfer services, which include a ‘meet and greet’ at the airport and bottled water on route, are conducted via the scenic Panorama Route. Those to/from Johannesburg and Pretoria also take in the Long Tom Pass, a short tour of Shangana Cultural Village and Marula Market, with an optional lunch if required. A shopping excursion to Casterbridge Farm for arts, gifts, clothing and other collectables, is another add-on to the road transfer itinerary.

Says Iles: “Our private transfer services are not specifically promoted as luxury services, but everything is geared towards quality, comfort and client satisfaction.”  Chilled bottled water is provided and passengers travel in air-conditioned comfort, receiving route and location information from the driver/guide via the vehicle’s PA system.

“These are door-to-door services that depart in accordance with each group’s specific requirements in terms of timing, locations and routing. Rates are charged per vehicle and not per person,” says Iles.

He says groups going to/from the Greater Kruger often request to travel via the Panorama Route and a percentage of them request a sit-down lunch stop along the way.

Briggs has observed a growing number of families using her transfers, and air hops between lodges are becoming increasingly popular, she notes.