What is the Baz Bus?
Non – South Africans can I get a Whoop Whoop??!! You guys rock!
The Baz Bus is most well – known amongst foreigners who have come from far and wide to enjoy our beautiful country. During our 1st leg on the Baz Bus from Mthatha down to Chintsa, we were surrounded by exotic accents from lands far far away in comparison to our monotone ‘ya bru’ South African (SAFA) accent.
So the question is…Where are the SAFA’s??
The majority of SAFA’s who I’ve spoken to about my blogging trip had no idea that the Baz Bus even exists! So, let me break it down:
• The Baz Bus is a unique hop-on hop-off, door-to-door bus service between 180 backpacking hostels in 40 different towns in South Africa.
• You can buy a ticket to your final destination and get on and off as many times as you want, wherever you want, in one direction, with no time limit. Or… you can buy a Travel Pass and get on and off as many times as you want, wherever you want, in any direction, within the specified time period.
• The route is between Cape Town and Johannesburg operating in both directions with stops along the coast.
On my journey along the Wild Coast we immersed ourselves in the following Backpackers:
Coffee Shack Backpackers sits adjacent to the Bomvu River in the popular coastal town of Coffee Bay. Its accommodation includes camping and thatched rondavels which are the dorms and private rooms for those who would like some privacy. Accommodation is situated both sides of the river so be extra careful crossing the rocky path after a few too many beers at the bar; you might just end up like a fish out of water.
Coffee Shack is certified by Fair Trade Tourism and is 30% owned by the community via the Tshezi Community Trust. Their responsible tourism is further enhanced by its Sustainable Coffee Bay NGO which was started in 2005 to assist in uplifting the community (http://www.sustainablecoffeebay.org.za)
Activities include coastal hikes, cliff jumping, abseiling and cultural tours. Freebies include Sunday night dinner and a 5th night free if you book for 4. The staff are incredibly friendly and hospitable.
• Camping R90pp, dorm rooms from R150pp and doubles from R200pp. Contact details: www.coffeeshack.co.za , +27 47 575 2048, +27 83 656 4350.
Bulungula Eco Lodge
This eco lodge overlooks one of the most remote beaches in the Transkei. Think gravel roads, cows, horses, donkeys, wooden carts and lush green rolling hills. Remote is not an understatement and many will get lost along the way (intermittent cell phone reception en – route and none at the lodge).
The community of Nqileni village owns 100% of the lodge and is also Fair Trade accredited with their own NGO called Bulungula Incubator doing incredible work in the community (www.bulungulaincubator.org). Accommodation varies from camping to luxury tents and multi- roomed huts. Activities include canoeing on the Xhora River, horse – back riding and walks to the local village.
There is a strong emphasis on ‘eco’ which means solar energy, compost toilets (i.e. long drops) and paraffin showers called ‘The Rocket Shower’. This shower is one for the ‘bucket list’!
• Camping R100pp, dorm rooms from R170pp and double rooms from R420. Contact details: www.bulungula.com , +27 47 577 8900, +27 83 391 5525
Buccaneers Lodge & Backpackers
Buccaneers is located approximately 50kms north of East London in a town called Chintsa. This family run resort is sprawled over 8 hectares of Wild Coast forest and has an Instagram worthy view of Chintsa Bay.
Accommodation includes camping, safari tents, dorms and sea facing cottages. The activities available are endless with surfing lessons, yoga, beach horse rides, cultural tours and the infamous daily volleyball matches to name but a few. Furthermore, you can visit the Emerald Vale Brewery, Tea in the Trees restaurant (during the holidays) and Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve.
• Camping from R105pp, dorm rooms from R170pp, safari tents R360pn and sea view cottages from R1050 pn. Contact details: www.cintsa.com , +27 43 734 3102, +27 71 602 1875
Away with the Fairies
Welcome to Hogsback the mystical forestry town which locals say was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. This backpacker lodge is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the magical Auckland Nature Reserve. On the property sits a breath-taking view point and the famous ‘Cliff Bath’ which is situated right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Hogsback Mountains and indigenous forests in the area.
Accommodation ranges from camping, dorm rooms and private cottages. Names of rooms such as Frodo’s and Bilbo’s En-Suite Cottage, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir and Samwise will get you all excited…
Activities in the surrounding forest include hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, archery and my personal favourite which was abseiling down a waterfall.
• Camping from R90pp, dorm rooms from R160pp, private rooms from R500 pn. Contact details: www.awaywiththefairies.co.za , +27 45 962 1031
Island Vibe Jbay
Jeffreys Bay is South Africa’s surf capital and home to the world famous left – hand break called Supertubes, which hosts the annual Jbay Open. Island Vibe Backpackers epitomises this surf lifestyle and is all about the ‘stoke’. The Backpackers is perched on a sand dune overlooking the Indian Ocean with direct access to the beach. ‘Kitchen Windows’ which is an awesome surf break for first timers and pro’s alike is literally a stone’s throw away, so surfs up bro!
Island Vibe also offers their popular language school which covers all levels from beginner to advanced and is facilitated by professionally trained teachers in foreign language education. They follow the British English curriculum and also offer CAE and FCE preparation (http://www.jbaylanguage.co.za/)
Accommodation includes the Main House, Beach House and Flashpackers. The rooms range from dorms, double, triples and private rooms. Activities are aplenty with surfing, sandboarding, SUP tours, beach horse rides, township tours and volunteering opportunities.
• Dorm rooms from R170pp and private rooms from R700 pn. Contact details: http://jbay.islandvibe.co.za , +27 42 293 1625
How do I book a Baz Bus Seat?
Email – You can book your seat on the bus by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails are attended to on Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 4pm. You must contact the hotline directly if you want to get in touch after hours.
Telephone – You can contact the Baz Bus Reservation hotline and book your sections with a Baz Bus consultant. International: +27 21 422 5202. Local: 021 – 422 5202. Mon – Fri: 8am – 9pm. Sat – Sun: 8am – 8pm.
SMS – SMS your booking to 076 427 3003. You will receive an SMS with your confirmation number during office hours.
You may change your booking free of charge, however, they do encourage it to be made at least 72 hours in advance especially during peak season.
What info is required when booking a seat?
Ticket number – You must use your ticket number to book sections on the bus. In addition to this, you will also need to specify the date of your trip and at which hostel’s you would like to be picked up and dropped off at. The one page timetable which has the arrival and departure list for the Baz Bus can be downloaded from the website www.bazbus.com.
• They have their branding on condoms in the backpackers to encourage safe coitus.
• Each driver has a comments book in which you can rate his driving and the Baz Bus service.
• They played the famous catchy local song “Welcome to Cape Town” as we came over the Helderberg mountains into Somerset West. Nice touch!
Have you used the Baz Bus? Where did it take you and did you enjoy your trip?
For more information on epic camping gear, click here.