Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: Bib’s International Backpackers, St. Lucia
Bib’s International Hostel is one of those rare places that has a surprise in store around every corner. Take, for instance, the tour of the hostel. After throwing our bags down we were told to meet at reception. Now, every other hostel’s tour consists of a 10-minute speed walk around the property. At Bib’s, it’s a 30-minute bus ride around the WHOLE town of St. Lucia, on KwaZulu Natal’s Elephant Coast, ending at the lagoon to watch the hippos and crocodiles at sunset. This way you know where the banks, stores, restaurants and man-eating beasts are. It’s a fantastic start to the stay.
When I first got to my room, I thought they had made a mistake – I had it all to myself, and the possibility of getting only one roommate (there were just two beds in the dorm room). As it turns out, it Bib’s policy to try give you a private room if it’s at all possible. The beds are clean and comfortable and the rooms are safe. The bathrooms are clean, although some of the doors didn’t close properly.
There are free activities every evening, ranging from watching hippos at sunset to cramming as many people as possible (we managed 17 – true African style!) into the minibus for a night drive. In the mornings there is usually a walk to the St. Lucia Estuary, weather and attendance permitting. At night you can relax around the outside bar and have jenga competitions on the wonky tables or a Ping-Pong tournament next to the kitchen. If you prefer something more daring you can go on a safari tour, kayak the lagoon with its crocs and hippos, or hitch a ride to Cape Vidal through a small park and go snorkeling (its better when its not windy; sand blasting is not a recommended skin treatment). They can even organize a tour to Mozambique where you get to snorkel with dolphins (I had hoped to do this, but not enough people signed up).
St. Lucia is a small, comfortable town, the southern entrance to the Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Sanctuary (see link above), which is South Africa’s first World Heritage Site and the oldest-permanently declared reserve in Africa. The local Spar supermarket has all you need supplies-wise, and there are three or four different banks to choose from. For those who want some fresh produce, there is a fruit and craft market along the main street just down from the hostel every day (the pineapples are delicious). With a wide variety of restaurants our group chose the pizza place that also offers seafood. We ended up with a table of about 12 people, all from different countries, most having only met that day – every backpacker’s dream dinner.
All in all, Bib’s is one of my all-time favorite hostels and a place I would definitely return to.
So my tip of the week is to head for Bib’s and St. Lucia and spend a sunset gazing out at the hippos and counting the crocodiles.
Till next time, keep trekkin’…