Backpacking South Africa: The Ultimate Guide
Backpacking South Africa: The Ultimate Guide
Title Image
Backpacking South Africa: The Ultimate Guide
All you need to know about backpacking in South Africa. Cities to visit, adrenaline-fuelled activities, unforgettable sights and the best backpackers by region.
Title Image

Backpacking South Africa: The Ultimate Guide

All you need to know about backpacking in South Africa. Cities to visit, adrenaline-fuelled activities, unforgettable sights and the best backpackers by region.
Title Image
Backpacking South Africa: The Ultimate Guide
All you need to know about backpacking in South Africa. Cities to visit, adrenaline-fuelled activities, unforgettable sights and the best backpackers by region.

South Africa is a backpacker's haven. With abundant natural beauty, diverse small towns to explore and its untouched beaches, South Africa is your playground. Immerse yourself in the friendly local cultures and push your limits with adrenaline-filled adventures.

Tantalise your taste buds with South Africa’s award-winning wines. You’ll be happy to know that alcohol is relatively inexpensive in South Africa.

Quick Jump
Is South Africa safe?
Getting around
Activities
Backpacking regions

Is South Africa safe?

Exploring a new country can seem quite daunting. Travelling to South Africa is often met with concern for how safe it is. South Africa unfortunately has a reputation for crime, strikes and taxi wars. South Africa isn’t particularly more dangerous than other developing countries. It is important to note that being safe largely depends on your own vigilance and knowledge of the area you are in.

This being said, remember that tourists are often the victims of petty crimes regardless of where they are visiting. Locals (friends or people at your accommodation) can advise you about safe areas and areas to avoid. Avoid visiting informal settlements without someone who is familiar with the area.

Travelling alone

Travelling alone can seem quite scary at first but is often an extremely rewarding experience. It allows you to enjoy the full extent of your independence, to do things at your own pace and make decisions in your own time. We have compiled some tips to help you enjoy your time travelling solo:

  1. Plan your route - Become friends with Google Maps and plan your routes well. Browse a map before you leave and plan your route for the day. This will give you confidence and reduce the likelihood of getting lost.
  2. Budget - Travelling alone means that you aren’t able to cash in on group deals which makes budgeting well that much more important. Look out for great deals at backpackers as well as transportation deals.
  3. Be vigilant - Always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night in dimly-lit areas and don’t go off to deserted places. Ask locals or staff at your accommodation about the areas to avoid and always let them know when you are heading out alone at night.
  4. Embrace being uncomfortable (within reason) - Some of the most growth will happen when you are pushed out of your comfort zone. However, be sensible about this and don’t do anything too risky. Follow your gut when it comes to how far you want to push yourself.
  5. Meet locals and see what they get up to - Explore local culture and cuisine by making friends with the locals. They’ll have the inside scoop on hidden gems.
  6. Make copies of important documents - Make a copy of your passport and driver’s license to keep on you while you leave the originals safely in your room or in your accommodations safe. That way, if something happens, the originals will still be safe.
  7. Pack light - This is a lesson in of itself. Packing light will not only mean you have less weighing you down while you explore, but it also means that you have less to gather if you need to escape a situation quickly.
  8. Enjoy yourself! - Don’t forget to have a good time. There’s no point travelling half-way across the world to sit in your hostel room by yourself. Be alert and sensible, but enjoy the experience of exploring a new country.

Getting around

There are a whole host of ways to get around when you’re backpacking in South Africa. Here are some safe and budget-friendly ways to help you see all the treasures South Africa has to offer.

Bus

The Baz Bus has a route from Johannesburg to Cape Town and visa versa. There is also a leg between Durban and Johannesburg/ Pretoria. The bus works on a hop-on, hop-off basis with various backpackers along the routes so you can decide where you want to start your journey.

Both Johannesburg and Cape Town have international airports which make them logical starting and ending points.Prices for tickets vary according the different ticket options. Have a look at the website to choose the best option for you.

The Baz Bus is a fun, ideal way to meeting other backpackers. Other budget-friendly bus options include the InterCape and Greyhound buses.

Train

Metrorail operates in four areas of South Africa; Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Shosholoza Meyl has lines running between Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as Johannesburg and Durban.

Car rental

For those of you who want to have some independence when it comes to where you want to explore, you can hire a car. Budget-friendly car hire options include Tempest car hire and Budget car rental.

Air

Budget airlines such as Kulula, Flysafair and Mango offer local flights to airports all over South Africa including O.R. Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

Activities

Choose from activities including big game watching, adventures to get your adrenaline pounding or breath-taking scenic landscapes.

Game Parks - The Big Five

The Big Five comprises of the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros (rhino) and leopard.They were originally named the “Big Five” by big-game hunters as they are the five hardest animals to kill on foot.

Addo Elephant National Park

Spot elephants at Addo Elephant National Park
lifebyzina

Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest national park in South Africa.It is home to beautiful landscapes, flora and fauna.

The park is home to the Big Five as well as 13 species of antelope and 22 species of carnivores including hyena, cheetah and wild dog. Spot lion in the southern section of the park and herds of elephant at Hapoor dam.

  • Where: R335 Paterson Road, Addo, 6105
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 233 8600

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Go game viewing on a guided or self-guided trail
emmy.m.i

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was the first World Heritage Site to be listed in South Africa. It is situated in the northern area of KwaZulu-Natal. The park is accessible from both the N2 and R22, two major tarred roads.

Explore the 220 kilometers of beaches that stretch from the south of the park to the border of Mozambique. Go game viewing on guided or self-guided trails, take a walk in the coastal forests and explore coral reefs whilst snorkelling or diving.

Go on an adventure by doing a kayak trip or horse riding.

  • Where: iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Gate times:
    • 1 April – 31 October, 6:00 –18:00
    • 1 November – 31 March: 5:00 –19:00
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 035 590 1633 or 035 590 1602

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

the oldest reserve in africa
hluhluwewildlife

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the oldest reserve in Africa. It offers a range of tour and safari packages including Bush Safaris, Estuarine Boat Safaris and Ocean Excursions.

Experience the bush come alive when you go in-search of hippo, buffalo, elephants and leopard on a night drive safari. View hippos and Nile crocodile when you go on a hippo and crocodile boat cruise.

  • Where: St Lucia, Kwazulu-Natal
  • Gate times:
    • Summer (January - May, November - December), 5:00 - 18:00
    • Winter (June - October), 6:00 - 17:00
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 035 5901555

Kruger National Park

one of the biggest national parks in africa
krugernationalpark

The Kruger National Park was established by Paul Kruger, the President of the Transvaal, in 1898. It is one of the biggest national parks in Africa. It is located at the North-Eastern tip of South Africa and stretches over the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

The park covers 19 633 square kilometres and it’s home to 753 species of animal and 1982 species of plants. The park has a lot of history on it with 254 known cultural heritage sites and 130 rock art sites.

Take a night drive, do a guided Bush Walk, go bird watching, do a hot air balloon flight or treat yourself to a Wellness Spa treatment.

  • Where: The Kruger National Park
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 424 1037

Pilanesberg National Park

bird hide at the water's edge
pilanesberg_

Pilanesberg National Park is the fourth largest park in South Africa with an area of 550 square kilometres.

The Mankwe Dam region has the largest body of water in the reserve. This makes it the perfect spot to view a variety of animals. There is also a bird hide very close to the water’s edge. The park is situated in a volcano crater that erupted 1300 million years ago. There are Stone Age and Iron Age sites around the reserve.

The dry seasons spans the winter months (April - September), and the wet season spans the summer months (October - March).

  • Where: Pilanesberg National Park, Northwest Province
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 087 820 7141

Adventure

Does the idea of doing the highest bungy jump from a bridge get your heart racing and your toes tingling with excitement? Explore secret pools and waterfalls while you go kloofing. Go diving with sharks and experience these mysterious creatures up close.

Bloukrans Bungy

experience 7 seconds of freefall
nikethreesixty

Experience 7 seconds of freefall when you do the highest bungy jump off a bridge. The bridge is 216 metres high but the jump is about 160 metres depending on your weight. The jump is filmed for you to watch afterwards. Conquer your fear, you won’t regret it!

  • When: Open daily, 9:00 - 17:00
  • Where: Face Adrenalin, Garden Route National Park, Bloukrans River Bridge, Tsitsikamma, Plettenberg Bay, 6600
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 281 1458 or 071 109 6872

AfriCanyon River Adventures

explore different section of the river
kristinklein

Explore the different sections of the river with AfriCanyon. Abseil down waterfalls, slide down natural water slides and zip-line line into mountain pools.

Whether you’re a first timer or seasoned at canyoning, the qualified guides will ensure a memorable kloofing experience.

  • Where: The Mill, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 534 8055

Shark Cage Diving

experience close-up shark encounters
meetsouthafrica

SharkDiving.co is a booking agent for tours and activities focusing on shark cage diving, shark breaching, surface viewing, and scuba diving with sharks. These activities are located in and around Cape Town.

Whether you’re wanting to be an arm’s length from a great white shark or scuba diving with blue sharks, SharkDiving.co has the perfect adventure planned for you!

  • Where: In and around Cape Town
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 556 0423

Jeffreys Bay Adventures

large dunes perfect for sandboarding
Jeffreys Bay Adventures

Jeffreys Bay is well-known as a surfer’s paradise. With beautiful beaches and great vibes, it’s the ideal place to take those surf lessons you’ve always wanted. The large slopes of the sand dunes are perfect for a sandboarding escapade.

The lagoons are the ideal place to do a Stand up Paddle (SUP) tour. Go on a township tour with a passionate tour guide. End the day admiring the breathtaking sunset while doing a horse ride along the beach.

  • Where: 10 Dageraad Street, Jeffreys Bay, 6330
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 293 2586

Scenery

South Africa is home to some pretty spectacular views as well as beautiful indigenous plant life. Discover a centuries old Outeniqua yellowwood, hike the trails of the Cederberg, climb Table Mountain or explore the rich history of the country.

Tsitsikamma National Park

The scenic storms river mouth
tommelwommel

The Tsitsikamma National Park is a section of the Garden Route National Park. Located on the south coast of South Africa it is one of the most scenic stretches of coastline in the world. The Tsitsikamma National Park includes the scenic Storms River Mouth, stretches of ancient forest and a craggy coastline.

The Tsitsikamma National Park offers wonderful hiking and nature walks. It is a great place to go birding, mountain biking and do water activities.

  • Where: Storms River Mouth, Tsitsikamma Forest
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 281 1607 or 042 281 1557

Cape Floral Kingdom

a unesco world heritage site
chenetaljaardphotography

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a biodiversity hotspot located in the Western Cape and has the highest concentration of plant species in the world.

An estimated 9 500 species grow in this region with 70% not growing anywhere else in the world. Included in this selection is fynbos and of course, South Africa’s national flower, the protea.

The Cederberg

dramatic beauty of the exposed landscape
wanderlustfab

The Cederberg is named after the endangered Clanwilliam cedar trees that grew in the area. It is situated just two hours out of Cape Town yet the landscape is very different. There is a stark and dramatic beauty to the exposed landscape of the Cederberg.

Activities in the area include spectacular hikes, bouldering, climbing and swimming in mountain pools. The Cederberg is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Visit a local farm that cultivates rooibos tea.

  • Where: Cederberg, Western Cape
  • More info: Tourism website
    • Contact number: 027 482 2024

Table Mountain National Park

CAPE TOWN IS NESTLED AT THE FOOT OF TABLE MOUNTAIN
eva.proeller

Table Mountain is one of the most widely recognised mountains in Africa. It is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and is a natural World Heritage Site. The area is also home to animal species such as the endangered and rare geometric tortoise and Table Mountain ghost frog.

Famously boasting a tablecloth of clouds when the South-Easter blows. Table Mountain offers a series of routes to appeal to both casual walkers and seasoned hikers.

Table Mountain provides a stunning backdrop to the city of Cape Town. Don’t be fooled by it’s proximity to the city though. This is a mountain offering climbs as well as sheer cliffs so make sure you know where the path is and be prepared for the sudden onset of cold weather.

If you’re wanting the views without the exercise, you can ride the revolving cable car instead.

  • Where: Table Mountain, Cape Town
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 712 0527

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

nestled in the heart of the cape floral kingdom
serenacrawford

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is situated at the eastern foot of Table Mountain. It’s nestled in the middle of the Cape Floral Kingdom. When the region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kirstenbosch became the first botanical garden to be included in a natural World Heritage Site.

Kirstenbosch has a variety of Cape Floral (locally known as fynbos) including pincushions, sugarbushes and heaths. Take a walk through the garden, explore the different sub-sections or enjoy a picnic on the rolling green hills.

Kirstenbosch has a tree canopy walkway called the Boomslang (which means “tree snake” in Afrikaans)

  • Operating hours:
    • Gardens: Mondays - Sundays
      • Summer (September - March), 8:00 - 17:00
      • Winter (April - August), 8:00 - 18:00
    • Conservatory: Mondays - Sundays, 9:00 - 17:00
  • Where: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 799 8783

Namaqua - West Coast National Park

explore the west coast national park
willemimmelman

The West Coast National Park is 1.5 hours from the centre of Cape Town. Spring turns the West Coast National Park into a sea of colour in the months of August and September when the veld and fynbos bloom. The Flower Season sees long queues of visitors visiting the park so arrive early especially on sunshine days.

The West Coast National Park surrounds the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon which has been divided into 3 recreational zones, each containing different facilities and activities.There are also hikes in the area as well as opportunities for bird watching.

Pack a picnic basket or you can visit the Geelbek Restaurant, located in the park, for breakfast and lunch.

  • Where: West Coast National Park (off R27 highway), Western Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 027 672 1948

Robben Island

located off the west coast of cape town
Dave Jackson

Robben Island is an island located in Table Bay, just off the west coast of Cape Town. It is well-known for its maximum security prison which operated during the Apartheid era. It was home to criminal and political prisoners during the colonial and Apartheid rule of South Africa.

The island was home to Nelson Mandela for 18 years during his 27 year long imprisonment. The prison is no longer operational and has been made into a museum. There are ferry tours to the island which will take you to visit the cell in which Nelson Mandela lived.

  • Where: Robben Island, Table Bay
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 413 4200

Cradle of Humankind - Maropeng Visitors Centre

the official visitors centre for the cradle of humankinf
maropengsa

Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, a language specific to this area in South Africa. It is the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves.

It is an hours drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. The Maropeng Visitor Centre contains self-guided exhibitions to be explored at your own pace. The exhibitions are interactive and engaging. On the weekends and public holidays guided tours are offered. Some highlights of the exhibition include The Beginning of the World and The Path to Humanity.

  • Where: Off the R563 Hekpoort Road, Sterkfontein, Gauteng
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 014 577 9000

Karoo National Park

fall in love with the vast Karoo landscape
nataliammoura

It is easy to fall in love with the vast landscape of the Great Karoo. The Karoo is the largest ecosystem in South Africa and home to a diverse selection of life that has adapted to the harsh conditions of life there.

Activities in the park include guided game drives, guided walks, a fossil trail, 4x4 eco-trails and bird hides for bird-watching. There are also picnic facilities available.

  • Where: off N1, Beaufort West, 6970
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 023 415 2828/9

Nature’s Valley

the jewel of the garden route
Itjvrensburg

Nature’s Valley, known as The Jewel of The Garden Route, forms part of the Tsitsikamma National Park. It is a haven for bird-watching and hiking. The Nature’s Valley Rest camp is located in De Vasselot, 30 kms from Plettenberg Bay. There are day trails in the surrounding area like the Groot River Trail and the Salt River Mouth Trail.

The nearby Nature’s Valley Beach offers surfing, sailing and swimming. A great way to unwind is canoeing from the camp to the mouth of the Groot river. Canoes can be hired from Nature’s Valley Rest Camp. Basic commodities can be purchased from the shop in the village. There is also a restaurant/pub next to the shop.

  • Where: Nature’s Valley, Tsitsikamma National Park
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 531 6700

Backpacking regions

If you’re struggling to decide where you want to visit or where to stay, read on for a comprehensive look into backpacking South Africa.

Johannesburg Hostels and Backpackers

Johannesburg, also known as “Joburg” or “Jozi”, is South Africa’s largest city. Visit Sun City, Pilanesberg National Park, the Lion & Rhino park or do a day tour of Johannesburg or Soweto. Do a tour of the Cullinan Diamond mine. Visit Gold Reef City or the Randburg Waterfront.

For more ideas, check out our guide of Things To Do in Joburg

The Backpacker's Ritz of Johannesburg

easy walking distance to entertainment areas
The Backpacker's Ritz of Johannesburg

The Backpacker's Ritz of Johannesburg is located in a large mansion in the safe Northern suburbs. There is a common room for mingling, a pub, a pool and a pool table.

If you’re wanting to explore the local area there are restaurants, clubs and entertainment centres within walking distance of the hostel. WiFi is available in the common area. There is 24 hour security and airport transfers are available. The Ritz of Johannesburg is a Baz bus stop.

  • Where: 1A North Road, Dunkeld West, 2196
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 011 325 7125

Brown Sugar Backpackers

located in the suburb observatory
Brown Sugar Backpackers

Brown Sugar Backpackers is a spacious and safe hostel located in the suburb of Observatory. Located just 5 minutes from Eastgate Shopping Mall, you have access to restaurants, shopping and cinema facilities. There is a Food Lovers Market across the road from the mall.

A free pick-up service is offered from O.R. Tambo International Airport and Park Station (the central train and bus station). A free buffet breakfast is included in in the price of your stay. Free WiFi is available to keep your loved ones updated and to share your African adventure. Brown Sugar Backpackers are a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 75 Observatory Avenue, Observatory Ext 1, Johannesburg, 2198
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 011 648 7397

Curocity Johannesburg

located in the vibrant maboneng district
curocityhostels

Curocity Johannesburg is located in one of the oldest suburbs, the vibrant Maboneng Precinct. It offers all those curious about exploring what Johannesburg has to offer, a place to rest their head.

The premises at 302 Fox Street were originally home to the Pacific Press who printed The Black Sash Movement publications and the ANC’s Fighting Talk publication during Apartheid.

  • Where: 302 Fox Street, Johannesburg, 2094
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 011 614 0163

Mbizi Backpackers Lodge

outside entertainment area
henah

Mbizi Backpackers Lodge is located only 15 minutes away from O.R. Tambo International Airport and offers friendly accommodation for weary travellers. There is a common room and an outside entertainment area where you can relax or play a game of pool.

There is an outdoor fire to sit around and share stories while you cook meat ‘the African way’. Staff are happy to organise your Kruger Park Safaris as well as day tours through Johannesburg or Soweto. Mbizi Backpackers Lodge is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 288 Trichardt Road, Parkdene, Boksburg,1459
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 083 278 7528

Once in Joburg

Once in Joburg is centrally located
art_of_mariatheresa

Once in Joburg is a hostel based in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. There is an on-site restaurant and the hostel offers car hire.The hostel has a common room. Free parking is also available. The hostel also has a 24-hour security desk on site.

A complimentary breakfast and free WiFi are provided. Once in Joburg is 500m away from the Central Bus Station, 900m from Market Theatre and 21km from O.R. Tambo International Airport. Once in Joburg is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 90 De Korte Street, Braamfontein
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 076 412 3663

Pretoria Hostels and Backpackers

Pretoria is popularly known as the "Jacaranda City". Visit the South African police museum or take a tour of a diamond mines.

We’ve made a list of Things To Do in Pretoria

1322 Backpackers

enjoy a braai next to the pool
heidihorizon

1322 Backpackers is a family-owned and run establishment, situated in the suburb of Hatfield. It is only a 10 minute walk away from Hatfield Square, shops, clubs and restaurants.

There is a common room area for socialising and free WiFi to help you keep the rest of the world updated. There is a pool, garden and braai area to enjoy. 1322 Backpackers offers bicycle hire and are a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 1322 Arcadia Street, Hatfield
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 012 362 3905

Pretoria Backpackers

Jacaranda flowers carpet the streets
Pretoria Backpackers

Pretoria Backpackers is a small and intimate backpackers located in the area of Hatfield. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms and outside entrances. There is a common room to get to know your fellow travellers.

Breakfast and WiFi are included in the price of your room. There is a pool if you’re wanting to have a dip. The City Centre is a 20 minutes walk away, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is an 1.5 hour drive away and there is a free farmers market nearby which takes place every Saturday.

  • Where: 433 Farenden Street, Clydesdale
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 012 343 9754

Pumba Backpackers

located on 'Backpack Avenue'
Pumbas Backpackers

Pumba Backpackers is located on ‘Backpack Avenue’ in the residential neighbourhood of Hatfield. It offers large, comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms. There is a common room area and outdoor terrace.

The lodge has an in-house travel agency that will help you find the best safaris, tours and transport options. There is a pool on the property, a large garden, free WiFi and breakfast. Pumba Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 1232 Arcadia Street, Hatfield
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 012 362 5343

Durban Hostels and Backpackers

Do a Zulu Tour or visit the Kwamhule Museum (an important building during the Apartheid regime.) Visit uShaka Marine World, the largest marine themed park in Africa. Try some of Durban’s famous hot curries or buy some Indian spices at the Indian markets.

For a comprehensive guide have a look at Things To Do in Durban.

Curocity Durban

just a walk away from popular destinations
curiocityhostels

Curocity Durban is housed in Ambassador House, a historic 1930 colonial-style building. The hostel is centrally located just a walk away from the beachfront and other popular destinations.

The facilities include a yoga space, a bar, an in-house spa, an outdoor cinema and lounges for relaxing. Curocity Durban is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 55 Monty Naicker Road, Durban
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 031 286 0025

Durban Backpackers - On the Beach

mere metres away from the beach
Durban Backpackers - On the Beach

As the name suggests, Durban Backpackers is mere metres away from the beach with a stunning view of the Indian Ocean. Their facilities include free WiFi, braai (BBQ) facilities and a 24-hour reception.

Umhlanga Rocks is 4 kms away, central Durban is 10 kms and uShaka Marine World is 15 kms away. The backpackers is a 20 minutes drive from King Shaka International Airport. Durban Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 17 The Promenade, Glenashley, Durban
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 031 562 1591

Happy Hippo Backpackers

rooftop garden with a bar
Happy Hippo Accommodation

Happy Hippo Backpackers is located next to uShaka Marine World, close to the beach. The are some nightclubs in the area if you’re looking for a party.

There is free WiFi, a rooftop garden with a bar and a curio shop selling local crafts. Happy Hippo Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 222 Mahatma Gandhi Road (previously Point Road), Durban Central
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 031 368 7181

Tekweni Backpackers

housed in a large colonial-style home
tekwenibackpackers

Tekweni Backpackers is housed in a large colonial-style home that was built in 1896. It is located just a stone throws from Florida Road where you’ll find shops, clubs and the best of Durban’s restaurants.

The Tekweni Travel Info Centre is located on-site to help with all your budget booking needs. Whether you’re interested in day trips, overland tours, adventure activities, safaris or even if you need to hire a car, they’ll be happy to help. Tekweni Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Tekweni Backpackers, 169 9th Avenue, Morningside, Durban
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 031 303 1433

Drakensberg Hostels and Backpackers

The Central and Northern Drakensberg areas both possess breathtakingly beautiful scenery. The area can be divided into four valleys, the Champagne Valley in the Central Berg area, the Didima Valley containing Cathedral Peak, the Amphitheatre Valley containing Royal Natal National Park and Middledale Pass Valley located in the Northern Berg area.

Choose from outdoor activities like horse riding, fishing and hiking. There are plenty of cultural activities to do in the area like attend a recital by the world-famous Drakensberg Boys Choir or visit the Didima San Art Centre in the Cathedral Peak area.

Sani Lodge Backpackers (Southern Drakensberg)

breathe in the sweet mountain air
mochilaotrips

Sani Lodge Backpackers is one of the best backpackers located out of the big cities. Breathe in the sweet mountain air, drink the fresh spring water straight from the mountain or have a dip in the swimming pool.

There are mountain pools located only half an hour away and a wooden deck with a superb mountain view. There is a log fire in the common room to chase away the winter chills.

Sani Lodge is the perfect base for guided and self-guided hikes, viewing Bushman Rock Art, mountain biking and exploring the nearby mountain rivers and pools. Sani Lodge Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Sani Lodge, Southern Drakensberg
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 033 702 0330

Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge (Northern Drakensberg)

named after "the amphitheatre", a famous cliff face
emelillontour

The Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge is located halfway between Johannesburg and Durban. The lodge is named after “The Amphitheatre”, a famous feature of the Northern Drakensberg and largely regarded as the most impressive cliff face in the world.

The lodge faces the cliff directly and on a clear day the Tugela Falls can be seen as they cascade down this ancient rock. There is a restaurant, bar lounge and TV room. There are table tennis facilities, a pool table and community gift shop. Cool down in the pool or warm up in the jacuzzi.

Activities in the area include hiking Sani Pass, Tugela Falls, bouldering and tours to Lesotho. Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, R74, Northern Drakensberg
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 082 855 9767

Karma Backpackers

perfectly located base for the amphitheatre day hike
Karma Backpackers

Karma Backpackers is a perfectly located base for doing the Amphitheatre day hike as it is located close to the Sentinel car park. Nearby you’ll also find the Golden Gate National Park and the village of Clarens which is filled with restaurants and art galleries.

The fresh produce used at the hostel is home-grown or sourced from the surrounding farmlands. Township Tours by bicycle run daily from the hostel so be sure to book when you arrive.

  • Where: 2 Piet Retief Street, Kestell, 9860
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 058 653 1433 or 083 442 3973 or 083 251 5824

Wild Coast and South Coast Hostels and Backpackers

The Wild Coast was so named because sailors in the 1700s and 1800s thought it to be one of the most dangerous sections of coastline in the world. Today, it is a beautiful and pristine stretch of coastline due to it being remote and fairly difficult to access.

Buccanneers Lodge & Backpackers - Chintsa

buccanners overlooks chintsa beach
Buccaneers Backpackers

Buccanneers Lodge & Backpackers is located on Chintsa beach on the Wild Coast. Take a surf lesson, go horse riding on the beach or take a game drive in the Ikwenkwezi Game Reserve.

Take part in a cultural tour, go on the soup kitchen hike or get involved in the Pink Bicycle Project. Buccanneers organises daily activities like volley ball games which are a great way to meet some of the people around you.

Whether you’re an adventurer, a peaceful book-worm or lover of fun, with its unspoilt beaches and warm atmosphere, Buccaneers has something for everyone. Buccanneers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Chintsa West, Chintsa, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 043 734 3012

Bulungula Backpackers

eco-friendly backpackers with an excellent view
mj_horny

Bulungula Backpackers is an eco-friendly backpackers situated on the beautiful Wild Coast. The lodge consists of 10 huts positioned for the best forest and sea views. The lodge is owned by the community of Nqileni village who play a vital part in the daily life here.

You can take a self-guided or guided walk around the village during the day. Head off with the village women for brick-making, beer brewing, face painting and traditional food preparing. Local fisherman can teach you how to fish and make your own fishing rod. Various other activities are offered by the community.

Check their website for transport options to Bulungula.

  • Where: Bulungula Lodge, Eastern Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 047 577 8900

The Coffee Shack - Coffee Bay

coffee shack is located on the wild coast
Coffee Shack Backpackers

The Coffee Shack is located on the Wild Coast. It is divided into two parts, the ‘Main side’ which is nearer to the bar and the more quiet and spacious ‘Beach side’. There is free WiFi, a pool table and a bar.

Activities include cliff jumping, hiking to the Hole in the Wall, surf lessons and Xhosa cultural experiences. Sample some traditional maize beer at the shebeen. You may even get to visit the local Sangoma (a traditional healer).

Experience the traditional village way of life and spend a night with a Xhosa family. The Coffee Shack is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Coffee Shack Backpackers, Coffee Bay, Mqanduli, 5080
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 047 575 2048 or 083 656 4350

Amapondo Backpackers

Explore the untouched landscape and beaches
Amapondo Backpackers

Explore the untouched landscape and beaches of the Wild Coast at Amapondo Backpackers located in Port St Johns. Facilities include a bar, a restaurant offering delicious homemade food and a common room.

Choose from activities such as coastal hikes, canoe trips, dolphin and whale safaris and cultural experiences. Do a day hike to Bulolo Waterfall or a day tour to Magwa Falls. Canoe the Mzimvubu River, once famous for being full of hippos but safe to paddle on now.

Hike to the village of Mthumbane along a beautiful coastal mountain path or see the Gap and Blowhole. Amapondo's has a shuttle that will do pick-ups/drop-offs at the nearby Baz Bus stop on request.

  • Where: Second Beach Road, Port St Johns
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 083 315 3103 or 081 257 4504

Jeffreys Bay Hostels and Backpackers

Jeffreys Bay is a world-famous surfing spot on the Sunshine Coast. If you’re surfer this is a must-visit destination. You’ll find Quiksilver and Billabong factory shops selling cheap surfboards and surf-related clothing. If you’re not into surfing there are other water sports to do in the area as well as hikes and bird-watching.

Island Vibe Backpackers

ideally situated close to the beach
pangeatrails

Island Vibe Backpackers is ideally situated close to the beach, making it perfect for surfers. Wake up to the sound of waves crashing and the sight of the rolling sand dunes. This is the perfect place to surf or take surfing lessons. If you’re already a surfer, wetsuits and boards can be rented.

Other activities on offer include horse riding on the beach, sandboarding and township tours. There is free WiFi, a common room, restaurant and bar at the backpackers. Entertainment facilities include a pool table and foosball table. Island Vibe Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 10 Dageraad Street, Jeffreys Bay
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 293 1625

Jeffreys Bay Backpackers

centrally located in the heart of jeffreys bay
georgiatulle

Jeffreys Bay Backpackers is centrally located in the heart of Jeffreys Bay. It’s walking distance from the main beach, restaurants, nightlife and surf spots. The backpackers has a lounge with a fireplace, a swimming pool and a braai (BBQ) area.

There is free WiFi and a central TV if want to keep connected, otherwise why not socialise with your fellow travellers over a cold beer and a game of pool.

Walk along the beach and enjoy the fresh sea air. Go sandboarding or horse riding across the dunes. Learn about life in the township from a local while you take a walking tour. Take a quad bike safari on the nearby farm or spend some time at the nearby waterfall. Jeffreys Bay Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 12 Jeffrey Street, Jeffreys Bay, 6330
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 293 1379

Port Elizabeth Hostels and Backpackers

Port Elizabeth, known as the “Friendly City’, is home to beautiful beaches, wildlife parks and museums. Visit Humewood Beach, a Blue Flag beach.

Explore Addo Elephant Park which is home to more than 200 elephants or spot the Big 5 at Shamwari Game reserve. If culture interests you, visit the Red Location Museum in the New Brighton Township.

Island Vibe Backpackers

Located a short walk from the beach
Island Vibe Port Elizabeth

Island Vibe Backpackers Port Elizabeth is located a short walk from the beach. It is 8 kms from the city-centre and a 10 minutes drive from the Port Elizabeth airport.

The facilities at the backpackers include a garden with a swimming pool, free WiFi and a braai (BBQ) area. Bicycles can be hired in-house if you’re wanting to explore and there is a billiard and foosball table to keep you entertained.

Activities in the area include whale watching, scuba diving, sandboarding, visiting the Apartheid museum and doing a Township tour. Island Vibe Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 4 Jenvy Road, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 041 583 1256

Lungile Backpackers

short walk from the beach
Lungile Lodge

Lungile means “All’s good” in isiXhosa, an indigenous language of South Africa. Lungile Lodge is a short 5 minute walk from the main beach. It is centrally located which makes it a short walk away from beach bars, restaurants and nightlife.

There is a communal area which has self-catering facilities, free WiFi and a TV. There is a tour desk to help you choose from tours, safaris and daytrips. Choose from activities such as a walking tour of the city of Port Elizabeth, sandboarding or a township experience. Lungile Lodge is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 12 La Roche Drive, Humewood, Port Elizabeth
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 041 582 2042

Jikeleza Lodge

located on the donkin heritage walking trail
Jikeleza Lodge

Jikeleza Lodge is located on the Donkin Heritage Walking Trail in the historical centre of Port Elizabeth. Jikeleza is a 10 minutes drive from the beach.

It is situated close to the local nightlife and clubs, if you want to party with the locals. Explore the surrounding area and find restaurants, cafes, theatre shows and pubs. The facilities include free WiFi, a common room and a braai (BBQ) area.

Jikeleza has a travel desk to help you with all your sightseeing and adventure activity needs. Get advice about the Addo Elephant Park, whale and dolphin trips or city and township tours. Jikeleza Lodge is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 44 Cuyler Street, Central, Port Elizabeth
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 041 586 3721

Owl House Backpackers - Nieu Bethesda

short walk from the owl house museum
esthervanzyl

The Owl House Backpackers is a 5 minute walk from The Owl House in Nieu Bethesda. The Owl House is the former home of the artist Helen Martins. Helen Martins, populated her house and the surrounding area with over 300 statues of owls, camels, peacocks, and people. It is now a museum.

Fill your day with fossil walks, picking herbs from the permaculture garden or hire a bike and explore the Karoo, To cool down, go for a swim with the goldfish in the dam. In the evening, enjoy the clear star-filled sky in the garden while you sip something from the backpackers’ wine selection.

There is internet for when you want to connect with the outside world. A shuttle service to Graaff-Reinet is available for a fee of R50. The Owl House Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: The Owl House Backpackers Martin Street Nieu Bethesda, 6286
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 049 841 1642

Sugarshack Backpackers - East London

housed in the original life-saver's building
Vusumzi Vusied Dywili

The Sugarshack Backpackers is located in East London, about mid-way between Durban and Cape Town. Sugarshack is perfectly situated right on the beach yet still a short walk from pubs, clubs, restaurants and supermarkets. It is also located close to the bus station and East London’s Aquarium.

The backpackers is housed in the original life-savers building. It has a sun deck, big TV area and an awesome lookout tower which is great for checking out the surf and watching ships and whales.

Activities in the area include sandboarding, surfing lessons and djembe workshops and events. The Sugarshack Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 50 Esplanade St, Stirling, East London, 5201
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 043 722 8240

Away with the Fairies - Hogsback

a bath with an unrivalled view
werries_87

Away with the Fairies is nestled in the beautiful Amatola Mountains. Take a bath in the outdoor bath tub at the bottom of the garden and enjoy the stunning panoramic views. There is a shared lounge with a fireplace, a self catering kitchen and a bar offering delicious homemade pizzas and other meals.

The Amatola Forest in Hogsback is said to have been Tolkien’s inspiration for The Lord of the Rings, especially the fictional Mirkwood forest. Hogsback has abundant animal and bird life. There are many wonderful hikes in the area where you’ll see waterfalls and stunning views.

There are several restaurants, a liquor store and a general store on the main street. Away with the Fairies has a shuttle connecting to Baz Bus stops.

  • Where: Hogsback, Eastern Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 045 962 1031

Garden Route Hostels and Backpackers

The Garden Route is a scenic stretch of coast from Storms River to Mossel Bay. The name comes from the diverse indigenous vegetation and the lakes and lagoons that dot the coast.

Dijembe Backpackers - Storms River

perfectly located for adventure activities
_mouse_baus_

Dijembe Backpackers Lodge is centrally located for adventure activities in Storms River Village. Dijembe has facilities to ensure your stay is an enjoyable one. These include a pool table, jacuzzi, dart board, a bar and braai (BBQ) facilities.

There is an in-house travel desk with a information centre to help you with your tour bookings. Take a tour through the the tree-top canopies with Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours.

Activities in the area include black water tubing, swimming and cycling around the area. Nearby places to visit include Birds of Eden, the Elephant Sanctuary and The Storms River Suspension Bridge. Dijembe Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Corner Formosa and Assegai Streets, Storms River Village, Storms River
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 042 281 1842

Bloukrans Backpackers - Bloukrans

bungy jump from bloukrans bridge
mark_I8

Bloukrans Backpackers Lodge is on the same property as the Bloukrans Bungy jump. The backpackers is surrounded by indigenous forest and has an awesome mountain view.

A 5% discount is offered on the bungy jump if you stay at the backpackers. There is an optional shuttle service, internet facilities, day tours and meals on request. Bloukrans Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Bloukrans Bridge Off the N2, Khoisan Village, Tsitsikamma, Eastern Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 082 639 8126

Wild Spirit Backpackers Lodge - The Crags

nestled in the crags
jasonboland

Wild Spirit Backpackers Lodge is nestled in the Crags on the Garden Route. Surrounded by indigenous forests and mountains in the Tsitsikamma National Park, it caters to the open-minded and conscious traveller.

Wild Spirit is a great base to explore the surrounding attractions or just gain some peace of mind. The day hikes in the area include Robberg Nature Reserve, Salt River Mouth and Nature’s Valley. Visit Nature’s Valley Beach and Lagoon for a dip in the water or to sunbathe.

For those adrenaline junkies, you can book tickets and a shuttle to do the Bloukrans Bungy jump through the backpackers. The nearby AfriCanyon adventures also offers a spectacular jolt of adrenalin. Wild Spirit is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: R102, Nature's Valley Road, The Crags, 6602
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 534 8888

Albergo Backpackers - Plettenberg Bay

located in the town of plettenberg bay
albergobackpackers

Plettenberg Bay is an excellent location as it not only is a beautiful spot, it also has many awesome activities offered nearby. Go on a whale and dolphin watching trip, go sea kayaking or take a surf lesson. Hire a surfboard or canoe through Albergo.

Albergo Backpackers is centrally located in the town of Plettenberg Bay. It is a short walk walk from the main street which is lined with restaurants, clubs and nightlife spots. The beach is a 15 minutes walk from the backpackers. There is a communal area, a big garden and free WiFi.

Visit Monkeyland, Knysna Elephant Park, Buffalo Hills Game Reserve or go on a day hike in Robberg Nature Reserve. Albergo Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 8 Church Street, Plettenberg Bay
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 533 4434

Island Vibe - Knysna

enjoy a cold one at the poolside bar
Island Vibe Knysna

Island Vibe Knysna is located in the heart of Knysna, a small town on the Garden Route. Most things are within walking distance so meander your way through the town and discover small shops or details you would otherwise miss. Be sure to visit the quays for some famous Knysna oysters.

Island Vibe Knysna has free WiFi, a poolside bar, a common room and braai (BBQ) facilities. Knysna has a large lagoon and is surrounded by forests. Visit the Waterfront for restaurants, curio shops and to watch the yachts in the harbour.

The Mitchell’s brewery tour will have you learning more about the locally crafted beer and tasting it too. Island Vibe Knysna is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 67 Main Road, Knysna, Western Cape
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 382 1728

Outeniqua Travel Lodge - George

located on the historic montagu road
Outeniqua Travel Lodge

Outeniqua Travel Lodge is located on the historic Montagu Road in a house that is over a century old. It is just a 7 minutes drive from George airport and the lodge offers a free airport shuttle service.

There is free WiFi and communal areas where guests can socialise. If you’re a golfer, George has some of the best golf courses which are just across the road. There are day trips to the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn, you can visit an ostrich farm among handfuls of other adventure activities.

The scenic Montagu Pass begins just 2 kms from the lodge. If you’re needing help deciding what activities to do there is a desk with tourism information. Outeniqua Travel Lodge is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 19 Montagu Street, George, 6529
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 082 316 7720

Mile Crunchers Backpackers - Mossel Bay

relax in the large lounge area

Mile Crunchers Backpackers is located in the centre of Mossel Bay. It is within walking distance of the beach and St Blaize Trail, a trail along the edge of the cliff.

Mile Crunchers has a bar area with a pool table and two communal areas with a large lounge area. Free breakfast and WiFi are included in the price. Information on activities in Mossel Bay and surrounds is available at the backpackers.

Activities in the area include shark cage diving, museums and beach activities like swimming and surfing. Mile Crunchers Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 7 Church Street, Mossel Bay
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 044 690 4462

Cape Town Hostels and Backpackers

Cape Town, also known as the “Mother City”, is nestled below the slopes of the picturesque Table Mountain. Explore Cape Town and surrounds by doing a hop on Cape Peninsula Day Tour.

Visit the Cape Winelands and do a wine tasting. Hike up Table Mountain and enjoy the stunning panoramic view, go on a ferry ride to Robben Island or shop till you drop at the V&A Waterfront.

Cape Town Backpackers

short drive from table mountain
Cape Town Backpackers

Cape Town Backpackers is centrally located in the city of Cape Town. It is a short drive from the Waterfront, Table Mountain and many stunning beaches.

The facilities include a common room, bar, and an outdoor terrace. Braais (BBQs) are a frequent occurrence. Free breakfast and WiFi is included in the price of your stay.

There is an in-house travel desk to help you find great deals, get advice and find bookings. Cape Town Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 81 New Church Street, Gardens, Cape Town
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 426 0200

The Backpack

providing great service to travellers
thebackpackcpt

The Backpack, established in 1990, has a long standing history of providing great service to travellers. It is centrally located and within walking distance of restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Popular nearby attractions include the Company’s Gardens, the Bo-Kaap and Green Market Square. The Backpack is a short drive from the Waterfront and Table Mountain.

Free breakfast and Fibre Optic WiFi is included in the price of your stay. There is an in-house travel desk to help you get the most out of your experience and a community craft shop for gifts. There is a common room, cafe and bar, a pool table and a garden with a swimming pool. The Backpack is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 74 New Church Street, Tamboerskloof
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 423 4530

The Green Elephant

trendy student suburb of observatory
retinafunky

The Green Elephant is located in the student suburb of Observatory, or Obs. Obs is a trendy suburb filled with cafes, restaurants and live music venues. It also contains two language schools.

The Green Elephant has a bar and braai (BBQ) area, a TV room, swimming pool and WiFi to keep you connected. There is an in-house travel desk to help you decide on tours and to give advice.

Choose from activities like a hike up Table Mountain, abseiling off Table Mountain and township tours. The Green Elephant is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 57 Milton Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 448 6359

Stellenbosch Hostels and Backpackers

Stellenbosch, situated in the middle of the Winelands, is a popular wine farm destination. Popular wine farms include Blaauwklippen, Kanonkop, Neethlingshof and Spier. Do a wine tour and sample the goods in a wine tasting.

For a full list visit Things To Do in Stellenbosch

iKhaya Stellenbosch Backpackers

located in the centre of stellenbosch
Ikhaya Stellenbosch Backpackers

iKhaya Stellenbosch Backpackers is located in the centre of Stellenbosch. There is a bar area on the ground floor which provides the opportunity to have a drink with the locals. Stellenbosch is a 40 minutes drive from the city of Cape Town and popular local destinations in the Western Cape.

Nearby attractions include Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and wine tours in the Stellenbosch and nearby Franschhoek region. Book a Afrivista wine tour through the backpackers and get a special rate. iKhaya Stellenbosch Backpackers is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: Twin Oaks at 56 Bird Street, Stellenbosch
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 021 883 8550

Hermanus Hostels and Backpackers

Hermanus, located on the shores of Walker Bay, offers the best land-based whale watching in the world. It is also a popular destination for a holiday. The whale watching season spans from June to November. During this time between 60 and 100 Southern Right Whales visit Walker Bay to breed and raise their young. The Hermanus Whale Festival is a greatly anticipated annual event.

Other activities to do in Hermanus include visiting the Old Harbour museum, browsing markets and soaking up the sun on the beach. There are many restaurants to choose from offering a variety of cuisines.

Zoete Inval Traveller’s Lodge

hermanus is nestled on the shores of walker bay
I Love Hermanus

“Zoete Inval” is Dutch for sweet drop in and offers guests a laid back, value for money experience. The lodge’s Retro-Eco theme can be seen running throughout. The lodge has upcycled and repurposed furniture which reflects the owner's’ approach to sustainable living.

The lodge is close to both restaurants and shopping areas as well as being just a short walk from the beach. It is a 5 minutes walk to the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

The lodge offers free WiFi. The facilities include a braai (BBQ) and bar area, a garden with a “forest walk” and a jacuzzi which is situated on the sundeck with a view of the mountains. Book the jacuzzi well in advance (especially in Winter.) It’s R20 per person. Zoete Inval is a Baz Bus stop.

  • Where: 23 Main Road, Hermanus
  • More info: Website
    • Contact number: 028 312 1242

    Backpacking in South Africa will leave you with unforgettable experiences, a lifetime of lasting memories and a desire to return again. No matter what route you choose to travel you’re guaranteed to experience what makes South Africa truly special.

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