Travelling Overland from Johannesburg to Cape Town with Baz Bus

Curious about travelling to South Africa?

In this blog post, I will be reviewing all the different transport options (and why we chose to go with Baz Bus) as well as all the cities and towns we stopped at and the hotels & hostels we stayed in during our 2 month trip to South Africa.

One of our dilemmas in travelling to South Africa was how to do the long bus trip from Joburg to Cape Town. After considering the different travel methodologies and looking online at different blogs and Facebook Groups, we chose Baz Bus since most independent travellers were raving about how much they loved the company. For those of you considering which is the best way to travel between Joburg and Cape Town, here’s our perspective!

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Here are some of the different options and the pros and cons to each method:

1) RENT A CAR

Good if you want total freedom to leave when you want and stop where & when you like.

You will be driving long hours and as the driver, you will have to be 100% focused on the road.

2) TOUR BUS

Good if you want a full guided commentary and almost everything taken care of you by guides.

Not good if you want freedom and flexibility to set your own agenda and go off-the-beaten track.

3) PUBLIC BUSES

An awesome way to meet the locals!

Often the public buses don’t leave on time and you are reliant on their schedules instead of your own.

4) TRAIN

Extremely scenic but extremely expensive.

We would have loved to do the famous Blue Train but it was far out of our budget this time around!

5) FLIGHTS 

A good option if you have limited time and a bigger budget.

You miss out on the beauty of travelling overland.

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After doing a lot of research, much reflection, and plenty of dialogue between by wife and I, we felt the best way to travel between the 2 major cities was to do the Baz Bus Hop On Hop Off Bus Trip.

So, what exactly is Baz Bus?

Baz Bus is a Hop-On Hop-Off bus that runs from Johannesburg to Cape Town (or vice versa). You simply buy 1 ticket from your start destination to your end destination and you can visit all the places in between. The great thing about their tickets is that they don’t expire until you reach your end destination which means you can travel for years on end with the same bus ticket! How amazing is that? If you do have 7, 14 or 21 days to travel like we did they also offer Travel Passes which is a cheaper option but you can use it to go in any direction on the Baz Bus route for the duration of your ticket.

Baz Bus was started by Barry Zeidel in November 1995  after his travels in Europe. Barry (who was nicknamed “Baz”) realized that there was no hop-on hop-off bus service in South Africa, so he created the company and it has now become the most popular way for backpackers to overland across South Africa!

Here’s 5 reasons why we chose Baz Bus:

1) AFFORDABILITY

Baz Bus offers good value for money.

2) CONVENIENCE

Since we are travelling with young kids, having pick-ups & drop-offs right at our hostel was super helpful!

3) FLEXIBILITY

We bought a 14 day Bus Pass which allowed us to stop when and where we wanted over the 2 weeks.

4) SAFETY

As parents, safety is our top priority. Having a local driver made us feel very safe and secure the entire trip!

5) SOCIALIZATION 

Our kids loved meeting travellers from around the world! Rianne now has a best friend from Holland!
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Here’s where we stopped and what we saw during our overland adventure between Joburg and Cape Town as well as all the hostels we stayed at (I have provided links to the hostels and hotels that we did blog and video reviews of):

1) JOHANNESBURG (6 nights) – The Bannister Hotel, Restdene MelvilleHomeBase Johannesburg

We explored Joburg with the Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Tour stopping at Constitution Hill, the Top of Africa, and the Apartheid Museum. Plus, we did a Soweto Day Trip and an Animal Safari in Kruger National Park. We also visited Lesedi Cultural Village, Cradle of Humankind, and SOS Children’s Village.

2) DURBAN (4 nights) – The Happy Hippo, Albany Hotel

We enjoyed our first day with Baz Bus and our kids made several new international friends on the bus. In Durban, we enjoyed beach time, several beach walks, some delicious Indian Bunny Chow, a visit to the uShaka Aquarium, and some shopping at Victoria Street Market.

3) EAST LONDON (1 night) – Sugar Shack

What a location! Sugar Shack had a perfect location right in front of the beach! Our kids loved splashing in the waves, building sand castles, and hanging out at the hostel. We also loved the restaurant at The Wildmilll just up the road from Sugar Shack.

4) HOGSBACK (1 night) – Away with the Fairies

Being avid Lord of the Rings fans, we had to visit Hogsback to see where J.R. Tolkien got his inspiration for both LOTR and The Hobbit. This was one of our favourite places in all of South Africa for the unspoilt beauty, the amazing Away with the Fairies Hostel, and the views from the World’s Best Bathtub!

5) PORT ELIZABETH (2 nights) – Island Vibe

PE is one of the mandatory stops along the Baz Bus Route. A lot of people arrive late and then leave early. However, I recommend staying for a couple of nights and enjoying the colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, and friendly hospitality in Port Elizabeth. Plus, Island Vibe has an amazing Flashpackers Hostel!

6) JEFFREYS BAY (1 night) – Island Vibe

We wanted to go surfing but unfortunately it was too windy. So, instead, we did a Township Tour with the informative Goodman from Island Vibe. We loved the location of Island Vibe as it was overlooking the beach and there was an on-site restaurant with delicious meals!

7) STORMS RIVER (day stop only) – Tube N’Axe

This was just a short 4 hour visit to see the remarkable Tsitsikamma National Park. We did a lovely Tractor Tour stopping for a nice picnic. If you have more time, you can also do Canopy Tours, Segway Tours and Horse Riding Tours of the forest! Also, make sure you visit the 1950s American Diner in Storms River!

8) PLETT BAY (1 night) – Amakaya Backpackers

Plett Bay was gorgeous – we loved the beach, the town, the food, and the people! Amakaya Backpackers hosted our family in their lovely hostel with a balcony overlooking the bay. There were lots of board games to keep the kids occupied during our stay!

9) KNYSNA (1 night) – Island Vibe

This was the third Island Vibe we stayed in. Each Island Vibe has its’ unique feel. The Knysna location was very laid back. They had a nice kiddy swimming pool and helped us organize a Sunset Boat Trip to Knysna Heads where the inlet meets the ocean. Dress warm if you do a boat trip as it gets windy!

10) WILDERNESS (1 night) – The Wild Farm

What a view! We took the shuttle bus from the town of Wilderness to the beautiful Wild Farm…this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip as our kids loved staying on the farm, feeding the horses, swimming in the pool, eating a communal dinner, and connecting with the other kids!

11) MOSSEL BAY (2 nights) – Mile Crunchers 

Shark Cage Diving – what an experience! Instead of going to Hermanus, we decided to do our shark dive in Mossel Bay since it was already along the Baz Bus route! Anne and I took turns watching the kids while the other one went diving! It was an amazing experience being underwater with these beautiful creatures!

12) CAPE TOWN (2 weeks) – Ashanti Lodge, Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel, HomeBase Cape Town, Once in Cape Town, Monkey Valley Resort 

We did a LOT in Cape Town including Table Mountain, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Point, Muizenberg Beach, Constantia, Stellenbosch, V&A Waterfront, Bo Kaap, Hout Bay, the Cape Town Carnival,  4 different walking tours, 2 township tours, and the 2 day City Sightseeing Bus.

Amakaya Backpackers

Overall, we loved exploring South Africa with the Baz Bus! This was our first time taking our kids on such a long overland journey. However, having a lot of travellers on the bus was really good as Rianne and Ryan were able to meet new friends, sing songs on the bus, play games, and even learn some new languages!

In hindsight, we should have got a 21 day bus pass instead of a 14 day one so we could have spent more time exploring each of the towns. Now, we are spending about 2 weeks exploring the beautiful city of Cape Town. After an intense 2 weeks, it has been good to take it easy and enjoy Cape Town!

We are so glad that we chose Baz Bus and now we are recommending it to other travelling families like us!

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