Roll up, roll up to win a limited edition Baz Bus t-shirt!
Last December the Baz Bus – South Africa’s inimitable hop-on hop-off backpacker bus service – celebrated 10 years in operation, and now has the t-shirt to prove it.
Best of all, as a current or former Baz Bus rider, you can win one of these colorful beauties! Just send a picture of yourself or your backpacking mates having a good time on the Baz Bus to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best will be published on SA Blog, and the snappers will get a free shirt! Don’t forget to include your t-shirt size with your pic.
HISTORY OF THE BAZ BUS
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Baz Bus, South Africa’s only national backpacker bus service, recently celebrated 10 years in operation. This hop-on, hop-off bus company has come a long way and from small beginnings.
The Baz Bus concept was lifted off the ground and on to the road in November 1995 by Barry Zeidel. Barry ‘Baz’ had the inspiration whilst backpacking overseas and seeing similar concepts in Europe (Slow Coach) and Australia (Oz Experience) and decided to bring the idea home to South Africa. Barry, a qualified accountant, entrepreneur and backpacker, hired an assistant to help answer calls and two drivers to drive his two new buses between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Passion, dreams and hard work were invested into Baz Bus and after a year in operation, Barry was finally kicked out of his home which had become Baz Bus’ Head office.
In the early days, the buses traveled from Cape Town via Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Kimberley and back to Cape Town. However due to customer demand the coastal route between Cape Town and Johannesburg was made bi-directional. Barry also introduced more and smaller buses with trailers, as well as no time limit on tickets as overseas travellers tended to have months to travel and would even return home during their travels. For a few years, Baz Bus extended as far as Zimbabwe’s famous Victoria Falls, but these days Baz Bus’s route stretches from Cape Town along the East coast to Durban and Johannesburg, via the Drakensberg Mountains and Swaziland. From frequencies of twice a week in 1995 between Cape Town and Durban, the buses now travel daily in both directions to Port Elizabeth and five times a week to Durban, 365 days a year.
The growth of Baz Bus occurred simultaneously with the growth of the backpacking industry in South Africa. At its launch, Port Elizabeth had one hostel, today there are nine. The number of hostels continues to grow all the time, and the standard of South Africa’s hostels is renowned to be some of the best in the world. Many of the backpacking hostels and lodges sprung up along Baz Bus’ routes, offering an abundant choice of accommodation options to backpackers.
In 2005, Baz Bus is proud to have built a reliable reputation with international travellers and agents and the company has grown to a dedicated team of 40 staff around the country and a fleet of ten 19-seater semi-luxury Sprinter buses, all with on-board TV’s & videos and trailers capable of carrying surfboards and bicycles. Baz Bus has become a strong and well-established force in the backpacking industry. Baz Bus successfully transports over 15 000 independent travellers each year between the backpacking lodges of South Africa. 90% of travellers are international guests; however there has been a steady increase in South African travellers eager to experience the backpacking concept in their own country. Certainly one of Baz Bus’ highlights was an impromptu encounter with former President, Mr. Nelson Mandela, outside his residence in the Transkei.
What’s unique about Baz Bus is the fact that it offers door-to-door hostel pick up’s and drop off’s for travellers, so there is no waiting at bus stations or worries about getting lost. With a Baz Bus ticket in hand, passengers can hop-on and off the bus at their choice of pre-determined stops in over 50 towns and cities around the country. Tickets do not expire until passengers reach their final destination, even if this takes months or years to complete. What’s more, Baz Bus is a great way to meet other travellers, admire the scenery (without contemplating Afrikaans road signs), and reach out of the way places.
Baz Bus is committed to promoting South Africa as a preferred backpacker’s destination. Over the years, Baz Bus has exhibited at various local and international travel shows. Baz Bus strives to be a proactive company and is involved in various community projects. They distribute condoms to over 180 backpacker hostels along their route, as part of their AIDS awareness campaign. Each year, Baz Bus visit different communities in need, in order to make a donation and provide an interactive fun day between those visited and the backpackers.
Besides the hop-on hop-off bus service, Baz Bus has diversified into three other exciting backpacking products, namely; Baz Bus Flexi-Tour Adventures, Baz Bus’ very own Cape Peninsula Day Tour and more recently Baz Bus’ 7 and 14 day Travel Passes.
The 10th party celebration saw over 200 backpacker industry friends from around the country joining in the festivities, some coming from as far a field as Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. The party was held at Hamilton’s Rugby Club in Greenpoint, Cape Town. After a delicious spit-braai lunch, fun Survivor games were held during the day, followed by sundowners at Signal Hill and finally an evening bash where backpackers could also join in the fun. Backpacker prizes were donated from all over the country, and Baz Bus tickets were raffled on the evening. Over R5000 was raised for Baz Bus’ office security guard whose home in Khayelitsha was recently gutted by fire. All in all, the support was phenomenal as both travellers and agents continue to pledge their support of Baz Bus in South Africa’s growing backpacker tourism economy.