For those planning on traveling around South Africa, there is a very convenient backpacker-geared transportation service called Baz Bus. Basically, they provide transportation between backpackers/hostels in major destinations with door-to-door service. They also sell a type of ticket which allows you to hop on/hop off wherever you want for a fixed price. Personally, I decided not to go with Baz Bus because I wanted to get a local feel of South Africa by traveling as locals do. However, I would say 90% of the people I met used Baz Bus to get around. Here are some pros and cons that I found with Baz Bus (having to take it occasionally out of necessity):
- This is the most convenient way to travel around South Africa and allows you to spend more time enjoying your vacation instead of planning your transportation.
- Great for meeting new people. The majority of backpackers use Baz Bus so you’ll meet fellow backpackers and get great tips on what to do, see, eat, stay.
- Some of the drivers act as a tour guide, pointing out sites along the way and providing tons of information about South Africa.
- Safe, reliable and comfortable travel. The minibuses they use are very new and easy to fall asleep in.
- More expensive than coach buses or other minibuses (I found on average it was double the price for Baz Bus).
- Takes some of the fun out of traveling for me which is independently finding/planning transportation from point A to B.
- Less flexible since Baz Bus has only 1 bus per day going in each direction. Coach buses usually had 2-3 options per day so you can depart and arrive at a time that suits your schedule.
- You might miss out on meeting and seeing how local people live since you’re interacting mainly with backpackers from foreign countries. There’s a backpacker bubble and you may end up traveling with the same people for your entire trip. Most of the people I met who took Baz Bus ran into people they met previously on the Baz Bus later on in their trip either on another Baz Bus trip or at the hostel.
- *New* (thanks Valerie!): It takes a long time to go from Joburg to Cape Town and vice versa because there is no direct route. You will have to stop multiple times and it can take around 3 days whereas coach buses have direct routes. Maybe try hop on/off going one way and a direct coach bus on the way back to get the best of both worlds!
My advice is to try a bit of both and see what suits your style of traveling. Either way, you’ll get to experience South Africa and all that it has to offer!
Baz Bus website: http://www.bazbus.com