Backpacker and hostelling accommodation is no longer bland and boring – it’s funky, fun and totally functional, like mini homes from home. And the best part is these hostels are super budget-friendly, which means your money stretches that little bit further for a truly enjoyable backpacking holiday.

Did you know?

Several backpacker hostels are Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa certified, due to their socially and environmentally responsible operations.

Backpacker and hostelling accommodation often has a basic, no frills and no fuss connotation attached to it, but in South Africa the standard of backpacker accommodation can be unexpectedly high.

Backpacker hostels in South Africa are graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and are mostly three and four-star establishments. There are also a number of five-star backpacker venues, among them some international award-winners.

These lodges often cater to the so-called 'flashpacker', young, hip backpackers that travel the world with their iPads, smart phones and laptops, and enjoy comfortable accommodation where they can stay connected.

The 'flashpacker' hostels are located in destinations around the country, with luxury double and twin en suite rooms; spacious communal entertainment areas with indoor fireplaces, outdoor braai facilities, swimming pools and satellite TV; and WiFi access.

They include Nothando Backpackers Lodge in Plettenberg Bay (5-star), Amphitheatre Backpackers in the Drakensberg, 33 South Boutique Backpackers in Cape Town, Tsitsikamma Backpackers in Stormsriver and SaltyCrax Backpackers Surf Lodge in Cape Town (all four-star).

The five-star Backpack & Africa Travel Centre in Cape Town is a multi-award winning backpackers' lodge. It won the Best Hostel in South Africa 2010 award in's 2011 Hoscar Awards, and was also named second best hostel in Africa. It is also a 2010 Welcome Awards winner. The Welcome Awards honour service excellence among South Africa's tourism service providers.

Some backpacking holidays in South Africa are unique in that visitors are able to participate in community outreach projects supported by the hostels. This provides voluntourism opportunities for backpackers who are then able to interact with local people and in some instances, wildlife. Some hostels are geared towards specific adventure activities such as surfing, where visitors can enjoy surfing lessons and surf safaris.

Many backpacker lodges are also eco-friendly.

One less thing to worry about when backpacking in South Africa is hostel transfers. The Baz Bus – a convenient hop-on-hop-off, door-to-door bus service designed specifically for backpackers – connects more than 180 backpacker and hostel accommodation venues across the country.

This, combined with the friendly advice always on offer from hostel staff, gives independent travellers the freedom to safely explore South Africa as and when they want.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Tourism Grading Council of South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 895-3000

Backpacking South Africa

Nothando Backpackers Lodge
Tel: +27 (0)44 533-0220

Amphitheatre Backpackers
Tel: +27 (0)36 438-6675

33 South Boutique Backpackers
Tel: +27 (0)21 447-2423

Tsitsikamma Backpackers
Tel: +27 (0)42 281-1868

The Backpack & Africa Travel Centre
Tel: +27 (0)21 423-4530