Getting on the Baz Bus at 8am on that rainy Monday morning was a bit nerve-racking but there was definitely nothing to worry about. I’d definitely recommend the experience :lol: . Its so simple but it seems to work. When we were all loaded on we got a bit of a welcome speech from Sam (bit of a legend), who explained how it all worked and ended up going on for a bit about how we should take it easy and enjoy the Garden Route but he also said something which was cheesy but stuck in my mind, that :arrow: “We don’t travel to escape life but to make sure that life doesn’t escape us”.
Anyway I’m not going to go into detail about every place I stayed as I’ll be here forever and everyone’s route is different. A lot of people were also restricted by time so were kind of rushing through a lot of the places which is a shame so if you’re planning to do this trip give yourself plenty of time.
I wasn’t so much restricted by time but I did want to get to Durban as quick as I could to see my friend, Becca, who I’m staying with now.
First stop was Oudtshoorn . I missed out a few places along the way like Stellenbosch (wine tasting at the vineyards) and Hermanus (popular for shark cage diving) just because they were a little too close to Cape Town.
Oudtshoorn was brilliant. You get dropped off at George (considered by some as the most boring place along the route) and take a shuttle (40R) to your hostel of choice but I would strongly recommend staying at Paradise Backpackers (see Accommodation Info post), which was possibly THE nicest backpackers I’ve stayed at (so far) :lol: . Regretfully I only stayed there 1 night but I went to an Ostrich Farm, as planned, and got to ride an Ostrich which was hilarious (I think the tour guide found my SCREAMING quite amusing :oops: ) and very informative as well.
Next Stop Knysna (stayed at Peregrin), which unfortunately was a bit of a waste as the bad weather caught up with us and we couldn’t do anything, although one of the girls did the shooting- BIG guns and said it was brilliant (but pricey). Nevertheless we all went out for dinner (there was 8 of us as we persuaded half the Baz Bus to get off together!) and had some drinks at the local bar.
Stormsriver is a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere with 1 shop, a few B&Bs and a restaurant/pub. The Adventure Centre takes up half the village and can organise the blackwater tubing but I wasn’t really up to being soaked in freezing river water. The main reason why people stop here is to do the world’s highest (commercial) bungy jump (216m!) :!: I must have changed my mind about 10 times (8 of them just crossing the bridge!) but luckily after you pay they rush you through it so quickly that before you know it you’re standing at the edge and people around you are screaming 1,2,3,4 Bungeeee!! Its like you’ve got no choice! Thankfully I was with some people so I didn’t have to go first (Thanks Chris - and Jo) but afterwards I was really glad I did it- its definitely an unforgettable experience and if you’ve never done one before you might as well start with the highest!! :D
Jeffrey’s Bay is probably THE most surf-orientated town in the world. You almost felt out of place by not continually carrying a surf board or having bleach blonde hair, especially with the July Billabong Competition coming up. There’s not an awful lot else to do but the beaches are great and the hostel (I stayed at Jeffrey‘s Bay Backpackers but there‘s about 10 in total) can organise everything inc. lessons for you. I also spent half a day just walking along the beach, collecting shells (which I don‘t think is allowed…) and soaking up the sun 8) .
Port Elizabeth (Lungile Backpackers) is a compulsory stop but as you arrive so late (after 9pm) you have to stay at least 2 nights to see the place. Didn’t really do much, went to the aquarium, which was a bit disappointing but the dolphin show was good, and went out in the evenings, which was fun. Spent 2 hours looking for an internet cafe, where the internet worked!
Next stop was Cinsta (Buccaneers), which was beautiful. The Backpackers was great with a view of the beach from the balcony. I finally got to go horse riding on the beach (and through a mountain trail), which was fantastic and definitely worth the money.
This is where my plans went a bit wrong…. I wanted to stay at Port St Johns or Coffee Bay, along the Wild Coast but you had to take an extra 2 hour shuttle to get there and if I was staying there for only 1 night it wouldn’t have been worth it but I needed a break from the Baz Bus (being stuck on there for over 6 hours does start to make you go a bit nuts!) so instead I got off at Port Shepstone, about 2 hours away from Durban! Seemed hardly worth it but the place I stayed (The Spot) was great and the beach was at the bottom of the garden so I enjoyed some serious sunbathing time.
When I finally arrived in Durban, pretty much straight away I got picked up by my friend, Becca, and her family and have been staying with them since. I have to admit, after only a few weeks of backpacking it was heaven to have a hot bath and sleep in your own room (never mind finally having clean clothes!).
The Garden Route is beautiful and there’s so much to do.
:idea: If there’s any advice I can give is don’t plan this route and don’t restrict yourself - time wise. There’s people I met along the way who stayed in one placed for weeks because they liked it so much, whilst other people got bored after 1 night. It all depends. One thing we all had in common is that we all would’ve loved to spent more time in some places or come back in the summer, during peak season, when everywhere is bustling with people.
just tagging this post :D I go in 8 weeks and thought these tips were really helpful :D