Backpacking the Garden Route – part 1

One minute we were packing food parcels and clothes for the children and families in the settlements, to then suddenly on a bus to begin a road trip up the coast of the Garden Route.

Monday we were sent to the settlement Wolverivier to teach the kids and feed them. I remember Monday being one of the hottest days in Cape Town so far. The heat was so heavy and the settlement was swarmed with fleas and horse flies. It was unbearable. Our day followed with lunch break at the beach where Kendall (our volunteer coordinator) received a family emergency phone call. Sadly Colleen’s mum passed away, therefore TLC was closed for the remainder of the week.

Leaving the day of work behind early the five of us from TLC decided to make the most of our week off and booked a spontaneous trip to see the Garden Route via Baz Bus, a mini bus that drives you to each destination for a great price. Tickets for £100 (1700 rand) each which we used for five days to hop on and off as many times as we liked, with the bonus of the bus dropping you right outside your chosen hostel.

Tuesday we were out of the house by 5.30am and onto the Baz Bus that took us 15 hours all the way to Port Elizabeth. The bus is a great cheap way to get up the coast of South Africa if your happy to be uncomfortable and squished the whole journey, without ventilation as everyone moans if you open a window, and very loud music played by the driver (depends if you get a nice one or not!), but all in all it’s a brilliant and easy way to meet other backpackers. Despite the horrid weather on the journey the landscape was beautiful, reminded me so much of Wales, sheep and cows smothering the green fields, surrounded by hills and mountains. We even spotted baboons sat on the side of the road. Once we reached PE it was late so we were unable to see much of the place other than the next morning on our drive out of the city. I reckon not worth the visit. The hostel was at least decent to spend the night in. Next stop Jeffreys Bay.

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20140923_071202We arrived at our next hostel, African Ubuntu in Jeffreys Bay, a few minutes walk from the beach. The hostel and town appeared very chilled, as if all your worries and stresses seemed to have disappeared. Known as the surfers paradise you can certainly see it when you’re there. Holding the factory outlets for major surfer brands; Billabong, Roxy, Rip Curl and Quicksilver, you can purchase dirt cheap branded clothes. It is definitely the place to be if you want to surf and lead a relaxed lifestyle.

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The hostel hosted free breakfast every day, a bar and pool area, chill out rooms with incense burning, a great film selection, and an awesome outside area where you could play music and sit out on chairs made from surf boards. You could even watch the dolphins and whales from the top floor whilst enjoying your breakfast.

Two nights we spent here and thankfully we had one full day of sun. We spent that day on the beautiful beach, sunbathing, surfing and enjoying a nice lunch in the sun. The other day we made use of the cheap factory outlets and spent time hanging out with other backpackers at the hostel.

Surfers Paradise
Surfers Paradise
Lunch at the beach
Lunch at the beach
Jeffreys Bay
Jeffreys Bay

One thing I have felt on this journey is the freedom from Cape Town. As much as I love the city and what it has to offer, living at the Aviva house with nine other girls can be a bit much sometimes. I feel like personal space is hard to find, with people always around you and the routine of volunteering each day makes it difficult at times. This road trip was probably something that was needed by all that went, despite being with the same people from the house, I am glad we all went together, as our friendships have grown stronger. Meeting other backpackers along the way has been a breath of fresh air too. I feel like I could get used to backpacking around countries, meeting new people, seeing new places everyday, although travelling to a different hostel every other night gets very tiring. But I could happily do it if it means you get to see some of the most beautiful places in the world.

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