Words: Daryl Travel
A great guitarist once told me: "you know you've written a good song when your friends hum it in the morning". So when I woke up humming the tune Baz Bus driver whistled the day before, I knew I wouldn't skip the South African joint yet..
Many of us use SA's cultural and political unpredictability as an escape pod to flee the country and go walkabout, while the rest of the world book their backpacks on the first flight to Cape Town.
So, I was down in the mother city, hellova depressed about the price of petrol rising, and cigarettes, and milk, coffee, tea, water... What's next man? Air? So when I heard I had won this prize from Stage Magazine, I thought I'd just up one to those bureaucrats at the visa section and make use of my free trip on Baz Bus to go basically anywhere in South Africa and stay at a backpackers for three days! What a breather.
On Baz Bus with me were fifteeen overseas backpackers and Steve, the legendary bus driver. I was the only South African on board. Funny hey? If you go to London it's 'hoezit!' everwhere you go. I met so many diverse foreigners in only a few days, more than I'd meet abroad in a month. Baz Bus concept involves a hop-on hop-off deal: no time restraints, just a friendly door-to-door transport service. Come to think of it, Baz Bus is pretty hip with all the hoppin' on and off anywhere between Sudwana & Cape Town. They run everyday, are well equipped and have radical drivers. I spent two days on Baz Bus and I must've met about forty overseas guests. Basically you get the licence to design your own trip at your own free will, plus a damn fine way of meeting foreigners who left their snotty clique attitudes at home.
Sitting on the bus, listening to all the Baz lingo and exchanging addresses, awakened a free-spirited travelling feeling in me that I hadn't felt in a long time. I decided to do the off in Swellendam, "the historic heart of the Overberg". It sounded kind of homely. Did I say Switzerland or Swellendam? Because from where I was standing, it could have been either. The place is just magnificent. Twelve O'clock Peak, I think it's called, just offers herself to the avid hiker, and there's even some classic white water rafting down the Breederiver. Swellendam is perfectly positioned halfway between Cape Town and the Garden Route (exactly two and a half hours trip from both Cape Town and George).
The Backpackers lodge I stayed in was nestled under the magnificent and scenic Langeberg Mountains, rich in indigenous forests and freash water lakes and I'm not reading this from a brochure. The area is ideal for hiking, horse riding and any form of water sport. It's an outdoor adventurer's paradise. Joopie and Bennie, who run the lodge, contributed to the serene atmosphere with their down-to-earth hospitality. All 15 of their guests went for 'seconds' for the most amazing chicken dish. I think I stabbed a small Korean with my cutlery in all the confusion. For a drumstick. The next day was spent visiting the historic sites of the town, and we saw some pretty cool (wooden!) gadgets. On the morning of my return, we woke up to find the entire mountain covered in snow from the previous night's storm. Wish you were there. As a matter of fact, I wish I could stay here: I think I'm gonna exchange my Visa and foreign currency problems for another indulgence in the splendours of South Africa.
In every edition, Stage Magazine is giving away a free trip on Baz Bus with the value of R500 and accomodation for two at a backpacker's anywhere in SA. Conditions: Become part of the Stage Magazine Tribe.