Welcome To BTSA

South Africa is a premier destination for backpackers worldwide. South Africa accommodates an enormous variety of backpacking tastes, from the extreme adventurer to the gourmet – all at a price that will suit any pocket.

Check out our site to find backpacker accommodation, tours, transport and things to do. Search the site for what you need. You will be able to contact the product owner directly with any enquiries.

This is your on-line resource for the best in accommodation, tours, transport and general information on Backpacking in South Africa. We hope to welcome you to our country soon so that you can experience first-hand all the wonderful things that truly makes South Africa the rainbow nation and a world in one country!

All listings are members of The Backpacking Tourism South Africa Trust which aims to promote South Africa as a premier backpacking destination. We were formed 6 years ago and have since been liaising closely with the government and other tourism bodies so that we can offer you – the tourist- the best experience possible.


a) Introduction

BTSA was founded by Dale Knowles-Gaylard in September 1998. The first Trustees were : Dale Knowles-Gaylard, Robin Thomson, Tammy Yeoman, Axel Zander, Lisa Mason, Candice Petersen, Cany Bugler, Anton Gaylard and Di Thomas. Of these, only Lisa Mason, Di Thomas, Robin Thomson and Axel Zander are still involved in the backpacking industry. However the successive trustees have added more experience and the Trust is in capable hands to this day.

The reason for establishing BTSA was born out of the need to contribute to the success of South Africa as an emerging economy. The aim to bring more foreign visitors into the country was the paramount motivation; 8 foreign tourists = 1 job.

The organisation originally existed as a simple association, but as it gained recognition and respect, it became evident that a more formal structure was required. Thus on the 1st July 1999, a non-profit trust, The Backpacker Tourism South Africa Trust was registered.

b) The Mission Statement

BTSA’s mission is to form a strategic partnership with local, regional and national tourism departments and offices and through collaboration and consultation with these bodies and other members of the Backpacker Tourism industry, develop a National Backpacker Program and Strategy, to be incorporated in, and run parallel to the future development of tourism in South Africa.

c) The Objectives








Adventure Backpacking in South Africa

Adventure backpacking in South Africa has become a popular form of tourism for the country due largely to the wide variety of exciting activities than can be enjoyed throughout the country. More and more of our readers report having experienced fantastic service at the Ashanti Lodge Backpackers Cape Town which has an extremely efficient travel centre.


Some of the top tourist attractions in South Africa

There are many International destinations, like  Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef or the Grand Canyon just to name a few. All of these International places would be great to visit, but why travel so far when there are plenty of awesome locations in South Africa that offer fun, excitement and adventure.

Here are some top tourist attractions in South Africa.

Table Mountain National Park

The park extends from Signal hill and takes you all the way to Cape Point. Table Mountain is the majestic centre piece that is famous all over the world. There are plenty of activities and things to do, so there is no excuse to sit at home or in your hotel room.

Activities include: Hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, surfing, rock climbing, para-gliding and more. You have access to pristine beaches, rich forests, surrounding mountains and a rich diversity of plant life.

The most well-known activity is the Cable car up Table Mountain. Once on top, enjoy the spectacular views of the 12 Apostles, the V&A waterfront, Cape Flats and you can even see Robben Island off in the distance.

There are plenty of things to do and finding accommodation is not going to be a problem as there are an abundance of choices.

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is found in the North Eastern part of southern Africa. Visitors to the park can enjoy a true African experience. They get to see the Big 5, lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos.

There is plenty to do, for a unique experience go on an elephant back safari or try a hot air balloon adventure. The park provides the best safari Lodge accommodation in the Kruger National Park, where you can stay in luxury and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Other activities include horse riding and playing a round of golf. The ladies can also enjoy a much needed spa day back at the Lodge.

The Drakensberg in Kwazulu-Natal

This beautiful place is of course a World Heritage site. The Drakensberg is an awe-inspiring range of mountains forming the border between Natal and Lesotho. From museums, reserves, zip lining, wild life tours, balloon rides and the list goes on for exciting things to do. There are so many activities that you will have to travel back again and again.

The Drakensberg offers everything from luxury spa resort accommodation to camping and caravanning sites.

Garden Route

A scenic, 300 kilometre area that extends from Mossel Bay all the way to the Storms River found in the Eastern Cape. A few towns you will pass through include; Knysna, George and Plettenberg Bay. www.gardenroute.co.za. Ashanti Cape Town Backpackers Travel centre has a huge variety of Garden route trips on offer to its clients. Many of these are available at far better prices than available elsewhere.

Robben Island

This island in Table Bay is where former President Nelson Mandela was held prisoner, before the abolishment of apartheid. The island is a few kilometres from the island so travel and accommodation is easy to arrange.

Accommodation: www.robbenisland.co.za

Durban: The Golden Mile

The Golden Mile is a famous and crowd pleasing stretch of beachfront that is one of the main tourist attractions in Durban. There are a number of restaurants and night clubs to visit along the beachfront. Hundreds of Bed & Breakfasts, Hotels and self-catering accommodation is available in Durban.

Other activities you could enjoy:

  • Mini-town model of Durban
  • Visit many of the traditional vendors in the area
  • Play and swim at the various beaches
  • uShaka Marine World is a must see, featuring a water park and aquarium.

Sun City

Sun City is a holiday and resort destination that can be found along the border of the Pilanesberg national Park. Sun City offers a wide variety of accommodation facilities to suite all tastes, from 5-star luxury to something more affordable.

There are plenty of restaurants and things to do.

  • Music concerts galore
  • Enjoy the water park: Valley of the Waves. Sun, beach and waves, bliss.
  • Take on a round of golf, best in the world courses.
  • Safari Tours
  • Plenty of fun kids entertainment and activities
  • I must also mention plenty of shops to visit and roam around in.


A Backpackers Guide to Zanzibar

We love tales of travelling new and exciting lands, backpacking your way to mystical and exciting places, sampling the tastes, smells and cultures of unexplored territories. One of our team recently returned from a trip to Zanzibar and came back with some intriguing stories about his travels, the food and accommodation in Zanzibar.

The aircraft finds its landing somewhere along the East Coast of the Indian Ocean. The humidity is warm and inviting. The fresh sea breeze fills your lungs with its’ exotic nature. A Dhow sails along the clear blue sea, its triangular sails picturesque to that of a fairy tale. The native men on board delivers you a friendly smile and wave. They are speaking in their native tongue. You don’t quite understand them, but they are friendly and inviting.

You walk across the soft white sand. Your feet sinking into the softness of the great white mass which surrounds you. The island is dotted with thatched houses. The perfect accommodation to enjoy all the beach life has to offer. Not far from the thatched houses is a free standing beach bar, surrounded by palm trees which blow gently in the island breeze.
Night falls, the island is instantly transformed into something you could only dream about. The stars shine brightly amid the darkness of the sky. The blue sea shimmers under the silver moonlight. The air is filled with laughter, music and fun. The beach bar is lit up with people from all around the world, sharing their stories, and enjoying the exotic island getaway.
Dawn breaks, the sun is filling the thatched house you have now called home. The birds are chirping a cheerful tune. You take a walk down to the magnificent sea of blue. You’re convinced to take a ride along the Dhow. It’s a glorious feeling, sailing across the clear blue sea. Taking in the beauty of the island from afar.

If you are the kind of traveller that likes everything organized well in advance the head over to the Discover Zanzibar Accommodation website. This agency has developed trusted relationships with some of the finest resort owners in Zanzibar. You won’t necessarily be getting the backpacking experience, but are guaranteed to have a fantastic time.

backpacking zanzibar
The sea life beneath the vast blue ocean intrigues you. You wrap your gear tightly around you, slipping on your flippers. You’re ready to go scuba diving. You plunge into the magical world beneath you. The sea is lit up by an array of colourful sea creatures. A turtle passes you by, it’s content in its’ natural habitat. You feel at one with the marine life. You even spot a humpback whale from afar. You are back on the Dhow, surrounded by a pod of dolphins, happily ducking and diving beside you.
A native convinces you to take a ride on the hop on dala dala which is an adventurous experience on its’ own. It’s a great way to experience the island and its’ natural inhabitants. You find yourself trudging along the spice route. The friendly Swahili’s show you their home grown spices and even give you a lesson on what they can be used for and how they are grown. Some of the smells are familiar, others as foreign as foreign can be.
You shake hands, learn new names and interact with the Swahili people. Getting to know their way of life, cultures and beliefs. They are friendly and humble. Happy to share what they have and what they know. You walk along the narrow streets filled with people selling various trinkets.
The House of Wonders Museum is a wondrous place filled with so much history. You feel as though you’ve gone back into time. Its’ enchanting character brings everything to life. You are taken to Prison Island which despite the name is not a prison at all. It was once a prison and quarantine unit many years ago. It has now being transformed into a tourist resort and home to the Giant Aldabran turtles which are amazing. You stroke them gently and even feed them. The colourful bird species are spectacular in your eyes. You can’t get enough of their natural beauty. Among the greenery are a variety of species of butterflies and even bats.

Yes Zanzibar has been described as paradise on earth, whether you are backpacking, on honeymoon or just looking for a place to get away from it all, be sure to add Zanzibar to your travel bucket-list !

Tranformation in the South African Backpacking Industry

Transforming backpacking in a transforming country Since South Africa became a democracy, our country has undergone massive transformation in all aspects of our society. All committed South African businesses have had to take a long hard look at their structures, practices and policies to evaluate whether they contribute or hinder the creation of a prosperous, non-racial, non-sexist democratic country.

“Transformation” has become a buzzword in South Africa and encompasses a number of different ideas and approaches. In general, “transformation” refers to the normalizing of the racial and gender composition of the owners, employees and suppliers of a particular business. The system of apartheid ensured that most owners of businesses, including backpacker businesses, in South Africa were white males. Large white-owned corporations have recently been selling shares in their businesses to black shareholders in an effort to transform the ownership of their businesses. Similarly most progressive large companies have quotas in place to ensure that a certain percentage of all their suppliers are black-owned enterprises. These two interventions are generally referred to as being part of the process known as “Black Economic Empowerment” or BEE.

Most corporations have also implemented affirmative action employment procedures and training schemes to ensure that the racial and gender composition of their employees reflect the broader society. One of the major criticisms leveled at BEE in deals over the past few years is that the same few individuals seem to benefit from a wide range of empowerment/transformation deals. It is not uncommon to see the same billionaire businessman become the “disadvantaged” shareholder in businesses ranging from telecommunications to mining to media. A recent outcry against this iniquitous situation has led to the promotion of broad based black economic empowerment” or BBBEE which is more in line with the Malaysian model of redistribution and which seeks to ensure that a much broader section of the black population benefits from the transformation of our economy. For smaller businesses like backpacker lodges, transformation is managed and viewed in different way. Small businesses cannot easily change their ownership structure as they’re normally individually or family owned and thus cannot easily sell a portion of their businesses to outside/black shareholders. Smaller businesses are therefore generally exempted from BBBEE ownership requirements. Nevertheless, BSA is proud that its membership base increasingly reflects the demographics of our country. Some of the largest and most successful of our members are now either partially or wholly black-owned including a number of lodges that have entered into joint venture partnerships with their surrounding poverty-stricken communities. As it is, the women-owned and run lodges are so successful and numerous that very little transformation is needed in this regard. Unlike larger corporations, where BBBEE shareholders have often ended up as silent partners, the hands on nature of the backpacking industry means that the transformation taking place in our industry is truly empowering as new black owners are forced to be actively involved in the running of the businesses. The low level of capital required to enter the backpacking market also means that new black entrepreneurs can enter our segment of the travel industry more easily than any other. The co-operative nature of BSA means that new business are actively assisted by established members as we all realize that our clientele more than any other is searching for the “real” South Africa which reflects all the people of our diverse country. BSA’s members also have an impressive reputation when it comes the employment and training of black staff – particularly in management positions. Even in remote areas where skills are scarce, excellent training programs have ensured that backpackers these days no longer see the country through the eyes of just one section of the population. A number of BSA lodges have completed or are about to complete their Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation. Many BSA members also run excellent community development projects to assist impoverished communities nearby. These project range from projects supporting orphanages and disadvantaged schools, to farming projects, honey projects, blanket making projects, beading projects, small business development projects and many, many others. Most BSA members are involved in one or more projects in their local community and some of these lodges offer free food and accommodation for guests who wish to help. Please enquire at any BSA member for more information. In conclusion, as young (at heart or in years) progressive South Africans we can proudly say that BSA is part of the exciting transformation of our young democracy into a caring society which creates a better life for all. We hope you will come and be part of this revolution by actively participating and supporting our various projects and emerging businesses or by merely chilling on the beach or jumping off a bungy… knowing that you’re contributing to a business and an association that is committed to helping this amazing country achieve its full potential.