From city parties to coastal relaxation: The 20 best backpacking spots in SA

The barman at the hide out bar in CurioCity Backpackers, one of the cool Gauteng tourism offerings you may not know about. (Photo: iStock)
The barman at the hide out bar in CurioCity Backpackers, one of the cool Gauteng tourism offerings you may not know about. (Photo: iStock)

When you want to meet new people but also travel on the cheap, backpackers have long been a cornerstone of budget holidays for the young and adventurous.

South Africa itself has quite a big backpacker culture, and you don't have to be a foreigner to hop your way from dorm to dorm. When you're the only local in a backpackers full of foreigners, you instantly become the most popular person there.

So grab your bohemian pants you picked up in Thailand, the backpack that's twice your size and travel your country through these cool backpackers.

SEE: The fuel price hike doesn't have to kill your road trip dreams: How to save when driving long distances

KwaZulu-Natal

Curiocity Backpackers, Durban

Centrally located in the heart of the city, if you're looking for a proper SA jol and meeting new people, Curiocity knows how to get everyone pumped for their time in Durbz.

Monzi Safaris Backpackers, St Lucia

A good headquarters to explore iSimangaliso from, Monzi also has a sweet pool setup perfect for relaxing next to after some cruising on the lake for hippos. 

Khotso Lodge and Horse Trails, Drakensberg

If you live for horse-riding, this is one of the best spots to explore the Drakensberg by horseback, with stunning views of majestic mountains.

WATCH: This drone in the Drakensberg will make you pack your hiking bag, stat!

Western Cape

Once Youth Hotel, Cape Town 

Situated in the vibey Kloof Street, this city-slicker paradise is perfect for those weekend escapes.

Backpacker's Paradise & Joyrides, Oudtshoorn

Disappear into the Karoo at this quaint backpackers where a lekker braai and cold beer will keep the heat away.

Greyton EcoLodge

One of the most beautiful towns in the Western Cape, this rustic lodge is perfect for budget travellers looking to take on the hiking trails.

SEE: Road tripping for the hops: Craft breweries of Western Cape

Santos Express, Mossel Bay

If you're looking for something a little quirky, you can stay in a stationary train with lovely views of the ocean.

Northern Cape

Augrabies Backpackers

Near the famous waterfall of the same name, you can also organise through them a hot air balloon ride over the Kalahari.

Free State

Platberg Harrismith Backpackers

Either a headquarters for hikers or a nice stopover on the route between Durban and Johannesburg, this little backpackers is ideally situated to check out the town on foot.

SEE: #BlackPanther: You can visit Wakanda IRL at Godlen Gate National Park

Eastern Cape

Tube 'n Axe, Storms River

You stay surrounded by a lush garden, and a great base to explore Tsitsikamma from with their tubing adventures down the river.

Away with the Fairies, Hogsback

Disappear into a magical forest realm at this secretive backpackers, where you can take a bath overlooking some mysterious mountains.

ICYMI: Instagram's new obsession: Taking baths in beautiful places


Mdumbi Backpackers

Nestled in the middle of the Wild Coast, Mdumbi is perched high above an expansive beach, perfect for full moon bonfires and night swimming.

SEE: Get gnarly at 8 of Eastern Cape's top surf spots

Buccaneers, Chintsa

One of the most famous backpackers on the Wild Coast, you'll never be bored staying here where activities are on offer every day.

Gauteng

Lebo's Soweto Backpackers

This township experience is most famous for their bike tours through Orlando West, and makes for a typical South African trip bringing money to the community.

SEE: A holiday in Soweto?

Brown Sugar Backpackers

This backpackers in Johannesburg looks a little like an out-of-place castle, but it has a fascinating history as it was once known as the 'Mafia-mansion' where wild parties raged on into the night.

Its Anners, Dinokeng

If you want something a little wilder, Its Anners is situated in a game reserve where you'll see lions, hyenas, giraffes and other rowdy African wildlife.

Mpumalanga

Hazyview Adventure Backpackers

This region in Mpumalanga has no shortage of adventure activities to keep you busy, especially gliding down the Sabie River or trekking to the Blyde River Canyon.

Limpopo

Elephant Walk Guesthouse, Phalaborwa

If you want an affordable base to explore Kruger National Park from, this backpackers is just two minutes away from an entrance gate and a cool stopover on the way to Mozambique.

North West

Oxwagon Lodge, Hartbeespoort Dam

Another quirky stay, you can either stay in a private room in an original Voortrekker ox-wagon that's been restored, or stay in a double-decker bus dormitory with bunk beds. 

Rustig, Magaliesberg

Stay on a cattle and tobacco farm about 45 minutes from Joburg, and activities include a tough 13km overnight Karee Hiking Trail, where they only supply water and firewood.

Find Your Escape by searching and comparing flight prices here. You can also sign-up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.

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