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Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: Sugarshack Backpackers, East London

Pulling up to this hostel – situated barely 5 steps from the warm Indian Ocean – you might start singing the Eighties’ tune “loveshack, baby, loveshack, loveshack…”

Sugarshack Backpackers has a cozy feel and friendly staff. Owned by the same guy who owns Coffee Shack Backpackers in Coffee Bay and Away With The Fairies in Hogsback, it is a hostel with great possibilities.

The dorms are comfortable and the lounge-cum-kitchen on the second floor has a great movie selection and large glass windows to gaze out of as you laze around and relax. Also on the second floor is my favorite attribute of the entire place, the large deck with seating and the “watch tower”. The watch tower is a few steps above the deck, open on all sides but with a roof and some cozy bean bags. It’s the perfect place to cuddle – ahh, I mean keep a look out for perfect surfing conditions.

I never ate at the hostel – I got a little skeptical when the sign advertising dinner didn’t change for 4 days. Fortunately, right next to Sugarshack is a great little restaurant with good prices and fabulous food. However, if you are in the mood to cook for yourself, there is a local Spar just up the road in the opposite direction. If you feel like a ride into town the hostel can organize a shuttle run or, if there are only one or two in your group, organize a taxi (be careful the taxi driver doesn’t “take you for a ride” with the price, be sure to get a quote before you get in).

Sugarshack offers tons of activities, and I definitely recommend you try a few. I visited the Rhino & Lion Park – and got to play with three-month-old lion cubs! I was not too impressed with the set up of the park, but even as a South African native, it was still awesome to get so close to these wonderful creatures.

As far as safety goes, the hostel is very safe, but there has been increasing crime in the area, and I wouldn’t recommend leaving the hostel gates alone after dark. The road is a one-way street, but this usually means people drive twice as fast, so be careful crossing over to the beach. Unfortunately, with increased use of the beach comes more litter, so be aware of any glass or other undesirable objects lying around.

While I must admit I never felt “the vibe” per se while staying there, the Sugarshack has a lot of potential and if you are with the right crowd, it might just be the place you were looking for.

So my tip of the week is to mosey on down to the Sugarshack, even if it’s only to visit the lion cubs.

Till next time, keep trekkin’…