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Pretoria to the Northern Drakensberg

SOUTH AFRICA | Thursday, 14 March 2013 | Views [1033]

Today begins my road journey of over 2,000km that will take me from Pretoria to Durban and along the coast to Cape Town.  

The 1322 Backpackers hostel in Pretoria was my first taste of hostel life and I arrived yesterday to a warm welcome from Yselle and the start of the part of my trip that I have most looked forward to. I had booked a single room and was shown to a little wooden cabin situated at the end of the garden. Suzie, who had also been volunteering at Bambelela, decided that this was a journey too good to miss out on and so will be joining me for the trip. We decided on and booked a 2 week hop on-hop off ticket with Baz Bus and then headed out to the local shops for lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the fresh salad and fruit smoothies, so lacking on the farm. We had intended to spend the afternoon swimming but by the time we got back the pool was already in shade. As evening fell we headed for the bar and communal area to enjoy our first taste of the local beer - Castle.

Baz Bus is a great concept which makes travelling around South Africa a safe option, even for the lone female traveller. Linking well over 100 hostels in many of the cities, towns and villages, the minibus takes you from your departure hostel to destination hostel thereby cutting out the hassle of arriving in a strange place with heavy bags and no idea where your accommodation is located. The bus is spacious enough seating around 18 people and the driver friendly and informative. There are 11 of us on here today and, I think, 5 nationalities of varying ages. There is the radio in the background and later there will be a movie.  The bus does not run every day and so we had to cut short our stay in Pretoria, keen to get on our way.

Suzie and I are planning to stop at the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge in the Northern Drakensberg for 2 nights. From the guide book I see that the Tugela Falls, the world’s 2nd highest waterfall, is just a short trek away and something I would really like to see. Many years ago while at school in Pietermaritzburg I went on a school camping trip to the Drakensberg Mountains and remember the scenery as being incredibly beautiful. I spent many hours researching hostels before leaving the UK so I have an idea of the places I would like to visit. The difficulty could be in deciding where to spend each of the precious 14 nights! If you are planning to do this trip, the regularly updated free guide book Coast to Coast, found in hostels, is an invaluable independent guide to accommodation and recommended activities on your tour.

Arrived at Amphitheatre, having driven up several hundred metres through some spectacular scenery (impossible to photograph due to a bad stretch of road) where we have checked into a small room with a generous veranda. On arrival we had second thoughts about getting off the mini bus as the hostel seems rooted in the middle of nowhere – ‘a commune in the middle of a field’ as Suzie put it. There is definitely a bit of a hippie feel to the place but we were enthusiastically greeted by a vivacious, if somewhat quirky, manager. The name comes from the amphitheatre shape of the mountains nearby – hopefully the weather will be kind tomorrow and I will be able to get some good photos.

There’s no sign of a lie-in just yet as we have signed on for tomorrow’s tour up the mountains to the start of the 1,000m drop that is the Tugela Falls….


Tags: 2, ampitheatre, backpacking, baz bus, castle beer, cost to coast, drakensberg, hostels, pretoria, tugela falls

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