Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Backpackers lodges and other matters

Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
Since we arrived in Southern Africa, Zambia, to be precise we have mainly been staying in backpackers' lodges. For the unitiated, as we were before we started staying in them, iot might be useful to explain a little bit what they are like.
In essence they tend to be family-run places which ahve a mixture of accommodation from single and double rooms to dorms to camp sites in the garden, with prices to match the level of accommodation. Toilets and showers are usuually communal. There is often a swimming pool, a bar and some sort of eating facility as well as a kitchen where guests are allowed to prepare their own meals. We have not done this in general, as it is too much bother and the meals provided are usually very good., although we have taken to buying muesli and fruit for breakfasts in the mornings.
The guests who stay here are not usually the just-out-of-school, spoilt middle class brat types, but a range of people from people-like-us, to families and to young people, sometimes travelling in a group, sometimes alone, mostly tourists soemtimes local holidaymakers. We do not get the big tour groups of dissatisfied ready-to-murder-each-other tourists, which is good, as they tend to fill places like this out totally, pushing out everyone else.
Being family-run, they are all different individual types of places, each with their own character. Much better than any corporate hotel.
Good value too, as they tend to cost between EUR 15 for two beds in a dorm to EUR 25-40 for a double/twin room, for the both of us. Better value if we did not avail ourslves of the bar facilities, the dinners and the internet, but that is another story! We are sort-of keeping within our budget, having previously increased the budget when entering Southern Africa and there may even be some travellers cheques left over. The Rand started doing a Kwacha on us today and seemed to have risen by 5% from yesterday to this afternoon!

Just another thing... we would like to congratulate the tourism authorities of kwa-Zulu Natal for doing such a good job at promoting this part of the country, and there are leaflets and booklets and websites all over the place with magnificent photos, everywhere in sunshine and talk of the hot summer sun. Well actually, although it is a great place to be there are also lots of boring bits, liuke the motorway up north, all green rolling hills covered in sugar cane na dthen miles after miles of eucalyptus forests. Also, although we have sene the sun and it has also been very hot at times, it has been more cloudy and extermely humid, as you can tell by the marks on our shirts and T-shirts in the photos!

Tomorrow, we get up early as we have an eight hour journey west, out of kwa-Zulu Natal through what is nowe Eastern Cape, previously Transkei, wjhere we will stop to visit the Nelson Mandela Museum in Umtata and may visit the vikllage in which he was born, before getting to Hogsback in the Amatola Mountains, which is said to have influenced Tolkien when he created Middle Earth. Promises to be cooler there at least, if not devastatingly beautiful with forests, mountains and waterfalls.

Finally, as you may see if you look at the photos, we spotted another rhino today, this time on the beach in Durban, meaning that we have seen a rhino every day this year!

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