Once a year I attend the AGM of an association know as BSA (Backpacking South Africa) where hostel owners, overland and adventure companies get together to discuss better ways of marketing the backpacking industry in South Africa to the rest of the world. The AGM this year was held at Thaba Morula Adventure Centre, just outside Brits near Pretoria . Over the past three years the BSA has exhibited at international travel shows in the UK , Australia and New Zealand and has set up a fantastic new website www.backpackingsouthafrica.co.za detailing members and regional information about backpacking in southern Africa .
I took the Shoshaloza Meyl sleeper train from Cape Town overnight to Johannesburg and had lots of fun and laughter on the trip, arriving at Johannesburg 28 hours later. We spent the night at Gemini Backpackers where delicious soup and bread were available, and we sat around the bar drinking and chatting late into the evening. The following day we were picked up by shuttle and taken through to our venue near Brits for the workshops and meetings over the weekend.
Hostel owners are some of the friendliest and funniest people I have ever met and while we relaxed with red wine around the fire or chatted over tea and rusks in the early morning, a good time was had by all at the BSA AGM held in Gauteng.
One sometimes imagines that backpackers only exist in major cities, but there are far more hostels around today in remote areas, on the Wild Coast , In Lesotho, KwaZulul Natal, on the Garden Route , in Gauteng and the Western Cape there used to be. Value for money at backpacker loges in South Africa is amazing - most dorms beds cost about R80 a night and you pay R150 to R200 for double rooms with on suite bathrooms. The friendliness and camaraderie that backpacking offers ensure a care-free holiday for both international travelers and adventurous South Africans. That hostels are grubby places full of dirty travelers is an outdated view.
As competition stiffens and regulations are put in place, many South African backpackers are considered to be of the highest standards in the world.
One of the best things about staying at a backpacker lodge or hostel in South Africa is the action and adventure activities that are on offer. One can go paragliding, abseiling, climbing, hiking, swimming, diving, dune-surfing – or relax around the pool, chatting to other travelers from all over the world.
The backpacking industry in the Western Cape has improved tenfold over the last couple of years.
Whether you are being picked up from the airport by the ‘backpacker bus', reading Coast to Coast to find our where to go and what to do, undertaking tours on Daytrippers or Bok Bus, or taking the Baz Bus up the coast – staying at hostels like The Backpacker, Ashanti Lodge, Deco Lodge or Stumble Inn, once can rest assured that backpackers are being looked after safely and responsibly while in South Africa.
To find out more about backpacking in our beautiful country or to check out some of these activities and go to the BSA website on www.backpackingsouthafrica.co.za or chat to me about my backpacking experiences in South Africa at SASTS Working Adventures on (021) 418 3794.