Big Sam writes "You know how it is. You touch down in some far-flung destination, ready to start the trip of a lifetime, and then you realise that you have absolutely no idea how you're going to get from A to B, or indeed any other point on the alphabetical map.
When I arrived in Cape Town, my only hinderance was a five-week clock hanging over my head before I had to be at Johannesburg airport to catch a flight to Perth. Oh, and the fact that I had no idea how best to get there.
I then whiled away ten days through drunken revelry before it was decided that my inebriated ambition to fuse hitch-hiking and walking to get to Jo'burg would only realise a missed flight or a missing backpacker. Upon consultation with hostel staff at Long Street Backpackers, Baz Bus came highly recommended by all. To trim away the literary fat, Baz Bus is a fleet of 22-seat vans which operate with various drivers between Johannesburg and Cape Town, driving along South Africa's glorious East coast.
Chirpy drivers pick you up at your hostel at various ungodly hours before ferrying you to the door of your next destination, stopping only for the occasional food break and the even more occasional traffic hazard (hippo in the road at St Lucia, for example).
You can hop on and off Baz Bus as often as you like. You could travel either ten or 200 miles in a day, such is the regularity of stunning places to jump off and spend a couple of days. For more out of the way areas, such as the beautiful Mpande or Southern Drakensburg, connections are available at a small additional charge.
Baz Bus is the perfect way to travel South Africa, as long as you have plenty of time to keep jumping off and sampling the various cultural idiosyncracies the country has to offer. Personally, a month to get from Cape Town to Jo'burg via Swaziland and Kruger Park wasn't enough.
If you have under six weeks to get around South Africa, it comes down to a choice: are you prepared to compromise convenience or destinations? You could negotiate your way around the country on local transport and see more, or you could opt to be dropped off by Baz Bus right at your hostel door but miss out on certain places because of time constraints and the company’s slightly irregular schedule.
And then there’s the fee, which of course tallies with however far you want to go. Again, it is good value as long as you have the time to appreciate the convenience AND see everything you went to South Africa to see. If you’re short on time and just want to see the major cities, then get a criminally cheap ticket on a local bus.
But assuming that you have the time and inclination to meander around South Africa, Baz Bus is a great way to see tiny little places you had no idea existed.
Personally, I could have spent a fortnight in any of the places I stayed. There can’t be many better places anywhere to kick back and watch dolphins piss about in the surf than Plettenburg Bay or Cintsa. And if you want to visit the local witch doctor, sit on one of her chickens in the mistaken belief it was a pillow (it happens) and then retire to your straw hut, then Mpande can offer you the opportunity to do exactly that.
Baz Bus can get you to these destinations. Don’t sell South Africa short, allow it as much time as anywhere else on your agenda, and then let Baz Bus take you to places that are unlike anywhere else on the planet