THE BEST HOSTELS IN AFRICA
Updated: Sep 15
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A few months ago, I posted on the Five African Cities to visit in 2021. I promised then, I would release an accompanying article with the best hostels in Africa. Traditionally, Africa in general is not a cheap place to travel. You can travel on a budget to an extent, but I don’t classify it as a budget destination such as the popular locations in South East Asia. Accordingly here are the best hostels in Africa for 2021.
Tuliahouse Backpackers hostel is positioned in the capital city of Mombasa, literally feet from Nyali Beach (Mombasa Beach). The hostel is a short ride from Mombasa Airport. It’s a fantastic place to stay with a pool, full pool bar and kitchen. I even managed to buy a bottle of rum there. The hostel has wifi, laundry, and a book shelf if you want to read on the hammocks.
Definitely take a tour of Mombasa, the city has a lengthy history due to early exploration (or exploitation) by the Portugese, then Oman after they vanquished Portugal. Fort Jesus, built by the Portugese to protect the port, is a major tourist attraction. You can easily get a tour to Tsavo National Park which is about three and a quarter hours away.
This hostel is in Diani Beach, located on the eastern coast of Kenya about 30 kilometers south of Mombasa. The northern end of Diani Beach contains the Kongo Mosque, believed to have been built between the 13th and 14th century. Diani Backpackers offers a swimming pool complete with towel, poolside bar and restaurant, laundry service, and pick up from the Ukunda airport. The sleeping area accommodates 6,8, 12, and 16 bed dorms and is only a five minute walk from the beach. It is a well-known hostel for Kenya travelers.
Wildebeest Eco Camp is located in Nairobi, popular with backpackers, but also commonly used by overland safari companies for lodging when starting or ending their safaris. The city center is about 8 kilometers from the lodge and 6 kilometers from the airport. There is an assortment of bed options; you can camp in the garden, rent a dorm bed, or spend the night in a more upscale cottage room, garden tent, or deluxe safari tent. There is a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner; there is also an infinity pool. The hostel has 24 hour security and safe deposit boxes.
Once In Cape Town
Cape Town is a phenomenal city to visit, compared to any place in the world. You can find tours and excursions for wine tasting (getting shitfaced), shark diving, and the prison that once held Nelson Mandela, Robben Island. If you feel like a hike, definitely venture up Table Mountain for a spectacular view of the city. This is one of the most popular hostels in South Africa, located in a trendy area of Cape Town, called Kloofstreet. You are extremely close to all the bars and and restaurants in the area; if you don’t feel like going to the bars the hostel provides a firepit and a meditation space. The hostel also has three restaurants and 24 hour reception. All dorms and private rooms have ensuite bathrooms, which is unusual and a nice feature. Dorms beds have lock boxes and charging areas for your laptop.
I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy — Ernest Hemingway.
Your Zanzibar Place
Zanzibar Island contains some of the most spectacular tranquil beaches in Africa and Stonetown is crammed full of history for such a small island. Your Zanzibar Place is located on the Eastern side of the island, so there are no ATMs. You should get cash before you arrive at the hostel as they only accept cash payment for food and drinks. The lodging is traditional with huts called makuti bandas made out of wove palm leaves; you may book single, double, triple, and dorm accommodations. The hostel offers free breakfast each day (pancakes or eggs, fruit, coffee). Zanzibar is a fantastic place to visit, before or after a safari. The activities are endless (Prison Island, spice tours, dolphin tours, deep sea fishing, and the museums and markets in Stonetown). Zanzibar once was the home of one of the world’s largest slave traders, an Afro-Arabian man named Tippu Tip. When he died, he owned approximately 10,000 slaves. Zanzibar was built on trading for spices and slaves, but certain exhibits in Stonetown may be disturbing to some people.
Banana Farm Eco Hostel
Banana Farm Eco Hostel is ideally placed a short drive from Arusha, famous for safaris in Tanzania. This hostel is situated on a family owned banana plantation, which has free fruits and vegetables available each day. There are private and dorm type lodgings and each room has its own bathroom. The stay typically includes free breakfast and there are hammocks available to relax. You can take the public bus to the center of the city and the hostel can assist you in booking safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Croc Valley Camp
Zambia is the home of South Luanga National Park; currently my favorite national park in all of Africa. It is a place where you can get very close to the wildlife, including hippos and elephants coming past your tent in the middle of the night (see pics below). Croc Valley is right in the park. This is a great place to stay; it has a bar and restaurant right on the river where you can watch hippos swim and lounge in the sun. The lodging is various as well; there are chalets, river tents, rooms, and camping. I camped with an overland safari tour; I thoroughly enjoyed having the monkeys hang out on the tents and the trees above and hearing the other wildlife at night. Croc Valley also has a very nice pool and a mediocre gym.
Located in the well visited Victoria Falls area of Zimbabwe, Dimba Lodge is 27 miles or 44 kilometers from Zambezi National Park. It is also situated about 25-30 minutes from the city of Victoria Falls, so if you want to be in town, best look at the next hostel in the list. Victoria Falls is essentially the adventure capital of Africa, as it offers bungee jumping, zip lining, and a gorge swing. You can also do white water rafting, booze cruises, and helicopter tours. The lodge has 13 guest rooms, a restaurant, laundry service, and an airport shuttle. The rooms do have private showers and ceiling fans; the property also has a picnic and barbecue area. Breakfast is available for a fee and there is no smoking allowed on the property. Two final thoughts on Victoria Falls; one is that I didn’t particularly care for the city as it revolves around tourists and doesn’t seem to have any traditional or cultural things to enjoy. If you like adventure sports though, you will love it. The second is that Victoria Falls tends to suffer rolling blackouts as one of their power stations was down for an extended period. Make sure you keep your phone and camera batteries charged at every opportunity.
Victoria Falls Backpackers
Victoria Falls Backpackers hostel provides a platform for viewing the “smoke that thunders”, otherwise known as Victoria Falls waterfall. Accommodation includes camping, dorms, twin rooms, and ensuite options. The hostel can also arrange a smorgasbord of activities to encompass gorge events, cruises, and a multitude of safaris. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend just doing an overnight safari to Chobe National Park though; Botswana is a fantastic country and Chobe and the Okovango Delta both have a super collection of wildlife. If you have the budget and time, I highly recommend going to both after Zimbabwe.