Your Next Big Trip

Backpacking South Africa on the Baz Bus

Arriving in South Africa for the first time, or any new country for that matter, can be daunting. With only 2 and a half weeks to get from Cape Town to Durban, we were anxious to find the most convenient, cost effective way to travel. Many people recommend driving. This is a great option for groups of travellers but for us, 2 female travellers with little driving experience abroad, we were eager to hand over our transport to someone else! That’s where the Baz Bus came in. “South Africa’s Convenient, Hop-On Hop-Off, Door to Door Backpacker Bus Service” sounded like just what we were after.

baz bus your next big trip

How does the Baz Bus work?

We booked our tickets online about a month before our trip. It’s worth keeping an eye out for sales and offers. We got ours during their off-season sale and saved a considerable amount by doing this. Once you book your ticket, print your confirmation email and you’re ready to go!

You will only need your confirmation email for your first trip. After this you will be issued with your real ticket. Choose a hostel in your first destination from their list of selected hostels. When you want to leave, book your seat on the bus by text or phone. We got our hostel to ring them for us in most cases. You can also book by Skype which came in useful a couple of times when we ran out of phone credit. The Baz Bus says to book 72 hours in advance. We travelled in low season and found it fine to book a day in advance (and once even an hour in advance!)

Baz Bus Your Next Big Trip

You might even make some new friends!

The Baz Bus will then collect you at your hostel at the time specified on the timetable (note: this is usually a half an hour window but can run even earlier than this. Best to be organised as early as possible!) The bus will drop you at your next destination.

You must book your hostel in advance. We saw a group of 4 guys stuck in Storms River as they did not book ahead and all the hostels were full. They ended up arranging their own private transport- not ideal as it was getting dark and they could easily have ended up in the same situation further on. That being said, we travelled in low season and booked some of our hostels as little as a day in advance in most cases.

Your Next Big Trip

The Baz Bus is ideal if:

You are new to backpacking or travelling in Africa.

All your transport is arranged for you with the added safety of being collected and dropped at your hostel. No waiting at deserted bus stations at night!

You have lots of luggage.

The Baz Bus has no luggage limits that I know of. You can bring instruments and surfboards. They will either be stored on seats on the bus or, if busier, in a trailer on the back.

You are a solo or small group of travellers.

While many people liked to read or listen to music on the bus, it was always nice to arrive at a hostel with other people. “Weren’t you on the Baz Bus earlier?” was a handy opener while waiting at reception. During our 12 hour journey from Hogsback to Durban, I’m pretty sure we would have gone insane if it wasn’t for the other Baz Bus passengers!

Baz Bus- Your Next Big Trip

You are visiting lots of destinations.

It is a hop-on, hop-off bus so it’s best to use it this way. We found we just about got our money’s worth by moving every second day or so. We stopped in 7 places over roughly 2.5 weeks. If we had been only visiting 2 or 3 places we would have been better getting the Greyhound or similar.

The Baz Bus might not be the best option if:

You want complete spontaneity.

The Baz Bus does not run every day. The only time this was a problem for us was when we arrived in Mossel Bay for whale watching, to find it was cancelled due to bad weather. The next Baz Bus was in 2 days time. What followed was 2 days of reading, cooking and going to the spa. Not the worst 2 days of my life, but not what I wanted to be doing with my time!

You are travelling in a big group.

The Baz Bus were perfect for 2 people together but it might be more difficult to coordinate for a larger group, especially in high season. If I was travelling in a group of 4 or more I think I’d prefer to rent a car.

You are travelling to only a few destinations or just to big cities.

The biggest perk of the Baz Bus is that it stops at a good variety of hostels. However, if you are travelling with one place in mind this can be tiresome. It stands to reason that it’s going to take longer to visit every hostel in Cape Town than to leave straight from a bus station.

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You want to travel inland.

The Baz Bus mainly covers the coast and inland as far as Pretoria. It travels in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal. If you want to visit some of the interior provinces you will have to arrange other transport. We managed to get inland as far as Hogsback by shuttle arranged through the hostel. However, this is only possible from some specified drop off locations and does cost extra.20160811_150622

The verdict:

Ultimately, the Baz Bus was the perfect fit for us. I would recommend it to anyone heading to South Africa for the first time and looking for that little bit of a safety net. We stayed in some really cool hostels and met fun, interesting people. I’ve already picked out some places we skipped over that I want to return to (Coffee Bay and Wilderness to name two.)

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South Africa was a beautiful place to backpack. Has anyone else experienced something similar to the Baz Bus?

23 thoughts on “Backpacking South Africa on the Baz Bus

  1. Christina

    I’ve never heard of a Baz Bus but it certainly sounds like a good budget option. What is the interior of the bus like? Is it comfortable? Would you suggest driving in South Africa or is it safer to go by bus?

  2. Lisa

    This sounds like a great way to travel! Although I like to have my own car and schedule, this would be awesome to do solo. I’ve heard of hop on/off buses before, but never ones that deliver you right to your door! And no luggage restrictions? Sounds perfect!

  3. Clare

    Great post. South Africa is on my list and as a solo traveller I was thinking I would have to do a group tour. I will look into Baz Bus and see where it goes and maybe I can do part of my travels with them.

  4. Diana - MVMT Blog

    I have never heard of the Baz Bus before, but it looks awesome! I have never been to South Africa before and typically travel solo or with a small group, so this sounds perfect for me. I will remember this for when I’m able to go to South Africa. Thanks for sharing about it!

  5. Soumya Nambiar

    Baz Bus sounds like a perfect thing for people who are looking for affordable transportation in South Africa. Even though I would prefer driving, it may be safer for solo travellers like me when we consider the safety aspect in Africa. Only constraint would be to choose from a list of their hostels.

  6. Leslie

    The Baz Bus sounds amazing! People don’t really have months to backpack these days. And they take much of the stress of decision making away so you can enjoy. I mean SA is rad, no matter where you go!

  7. Maja | Mexatia

    I had no idea something like this existed! It is great you can plan your travels safely, without worrying too much about the transportation. I recently fell in love with Cape Town so this goes on my “when i visit” list 😀

  8. Mina Slater

    South Africa is definitely on my travel list. I would not want to drive so this post is pretty helpful. It’s great to know this bus service is available and it will be 3 of us traveling so it seems like a good option.

  9. Soraya

    Wow this is the first I have heard of the Baz Bus in South Africa. I know of Busabout in Europe, which has a similar concept. This is definitely a fantastic option for traveling in South Africa, and sounds really convenient, because you don’t have to worry about maps/GPS and driving in a foreign country. A great thing to consider for next time.

  10. Mirela

    Bad Bus is similar with Bus About in Europe which is amazing and has lots of routes. Thank you for this info, actually I am looking at South Africa and started to search for things to help me organize my solo trip there. Loved they also show prices in Euro, first saw only R, saved.

  11. Melai

    Africa is a big country so it might not be that easy to DIY getting around. This is the first time I heard about Baz Bus and it’s the perfect way to go on a convenient and safe road trip. Thanks for sharing the experience. I’ll look it up when we visit Africa.

  12. Priyanka

    I have heard about the Baz Bus when I wanted to do a solo backpacking trip to SA few months back. That didnt happen eventually because I went to Asia instead, but definitely when I finally make it to SA, I will use them. aI like how you saved money by traveling in off season. Great pictures and very informative post

  13. Natalie

    I’ve never heard of such a thing. What a brilliant idea and a great option. We usually travel as a group of 4-6 so I don’t know if we would use, but will pass it along to smaller groups! We haven’t been to South Africa, yet! Would you consider it a family friendly destination? Good for kids?

  14. Kiara Gallop

    This sounds like a fantastic option for those who are new to travelling in South Africa (which I would be), although moving on every couple of days might get a bit tiring after a while! You say it only drops at certain hostels, but could you book a different one that’s walking distance from those it drops at? Or is the whole thing run on a commission exchange basis?

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      You can stay wherever you want but you’d have to organise your own transport as most places aren’t very walkable in South Africa. Its not done on a commission basis and the drivers are actually not allowed advise you on where to stay. You book the hostels seperate to the Baz Bus so I usually did a bit of TripAdvisor research beforehand. I found the selection of hostels excellent. Most highly rated hostels are on the route.

      Moving every few days was tiring but we were stuck for time and happy to go all out for two and a half weeks as we were finishing in Zanzibar. Ideally I’d buy a ticket for a longer period of time and spend maybe 3 or 4 weeks doing it! I just loved the social aspect of it and how friendly everyone was along the way.

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      I always find it so much easier to advise on travel in other countries than my home country of Ireland. So many things that I would never use unless I was a tourist. I had to ask to find out if we have a Baz Bus type transport in Ireland. We don’t but I realised then that I haven’t a clue how tourists without a car get around!

  15. Pingback: The (almost) perfect 2 week South Africa Backpacking Itinerary - Your Next Big Trip

  16. Tina and Jimmy

    I do like the idea of taking in a much as you can while on a trip, the Baz Bus sound like a perfect way to see different places in South Africa in one trip rather than staying in one spot. Great Tip on why type of travel this would be good for!

  17. Adventure Anywhere

    Not really a huge fan of the bazbus as it’s a bit expensive (but then I have my own car here in SA). May be worthwhile to use if you are a solo traveller. In a bigger group it’s better to hire a car and explore at your own pace.

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