The Baz Bus is South Africa’s best way for budget and solo travelers to get around the country. With a country as exciting and beautiful as South Africa, it attracts all sorts of people from all walks of life across the world. The several-hour-long Baz Bus rides from city to city go by a lot quicker thanks to all of the interesting characters you’ll have a chance to meet on the bus, including yourself of course.
The backpacker who has been on the road for way too long
As soon as you mention any place, this dude has been there and done that. Oh you’ve been to Mexico? He’s been there seven times already. Thailand was your favorite country in South East Asia? Uhh, excuse me, have you been to the Philippines? It’s way better. You’ve been traveling for 3 weeks already? That’s cute. I’ve only been on the road for three years and don’t really have any plans on going back!
I’ll admit, this was probably me. It doesn’t always have to be rude, as long as you aren’t constantly trying to seem like you are one-upping everyone else’s story. Most of the time, he means well but it undoubtedly gets annoying when you can’t have your own opinion without someone telling you that you’re wrong.
The giddy first-time solo traveler
This is probably the best of the travelers. Wondrous and wide-eyed, everything that might seem insignificant to you still seems extraordinary to them. It is a refreshing take on the world no matter how seasoned you might be as a traveler. Their first hostel friends that they’ll never forget, their desire to take selfies with everyone they meet, their pureness and innocence before they get tainted by the inevitable consequences of long-term solo backpacking. These guys always leave the bus with a smile on their face no matter what.
The guy(s) who wants to turn it into a party bus
This is the guy who heard that the Baz Bus was the preferred means of transportation for backpackers and assumed it would be a party bus. The Baz Bus can be whatever you want it to be but this guy came prepared. Purchasing a six-pack of Black Labels at every garage stop along the way, this guy is oblivious to the fact that it is just past 8 AM and everyone else is trying to juice some last few minutes of sleep out of last night.
I won’t lie, I’ve hopped on the bus drunk myself before and am probably guilty of hopping from seat to seat trying to hype up everyone else on the bus. There’s only been one or two of these guys I’ve encountered on the Baz Bus but when they are on here, the entertainment is pretty endless.
The German traveler
For some reason, German travelers love South Africa. It almost feels like every other traveler you meet is from Germany. No snarky stereotype or anything, just literally you will meet a German.
The other German traveler
Actually, you will probably meet at least two.
The young volunteer who is incredibly mature for their age
At the tender age of 18 years old, this girl is already way more mature than you ever were as a teenager. She is out here volunteering as a teacher at a township or as a caretaker at an animal sanctuary. She has the coolest job you could imagine and part of you wishes that you had heard of these opportunities way sooner. Like wait, you mean to tell me I could have been living with elephants and giraffes at age 18 instead of drinking around a fire in the middle of a cornfield? They’re on the bus taking a quick break to travel around South Africa, making their dream job that much more desirable.
The quiet couple that just wants to be left alone
These two saw the open seats in the back row and immediately planted their butts in the back corner of the Baz Bus. They seem cool enough but you just don’t know how to break the ice. They’re in their own little world and sometimes, it’s better not to try and break the ice.
The accidental old lady who didn’t know what she was signing up for
Every now and then, a Golden Girl will find her way onto the Baz Bus as a result of it being one of the only viable transportation options to get from one place to another. They’ll have someone dropping them off, which usually involves a lengthy discussion with the Baz Bus driver to get every single detail down. Sometimes she will mind her own business throughout the entire ride, content with her silence. Others will see their opportunity to share their vast expanses of stories and experiences with the young guns. They already know they don’t necessarily fit into the demographic of the other Baz Bus passengers so welcome them with a smile and take in as much of their stories as you can.
The overly-friendly guy from Joburg
This bru is just out here having a jol. Probably got a couple of weeks off of work and decided to do some traveling around South Africa. He can’t wait to tell you how great Joburg is and is more than happy to show you around Jozi once you get up there. This dude radiates South African hospitality and won’t hesitate to tell you how stoked he is to see so many people traveling in his home country. You’ll leave the bus with his WhatsApp info, his Instagram handle, his Facebook profile, his email address, his home address, his mom’s phone number, etc.
The surfer dude or surfer dudette
Luckily, there’s a trailer hitched to the Baz Bus otherwise there might not be room for people. Surf is life for these travelers. Their faces gleam as soon as the topic of surfing is mentioned. They aren’t that good yet but they know a few people who are sponsored and could totally put in a good word for them once they get better. These rad dudes and dudettes are just out here enjoying life and will radiate positivity and good vibes. Just hope that they took a shower since their last surf or else it will be salty ocean air from JBay to PE.
The ultra-serious hiker who seems geared up to take on Kilimanjaro
Hiking boots? Check. Walking poles? Check. First ascent hat? Check. South Africa has no shortage of mountains and epic hikes and this traveler came to do them all. Armed with his 80-Liter Osprey and Camelbak daypack, they are strapped enough to make you feel unprepared for whatever it is you’re going to be doing. You can’t help but feel slightly inferior in the khaki-ed out presence of this traveler, who is also likely inexplicably wearing their sports sunglasses inside the bus. Meanwhile, the only first ascent you’ve done all week is getting up early from a night out to get back on the Baz Bus.
At least one more German
Yep, there’s probably a third one.
Your soul mate / best friend
I’m not just talking about your future wife here. With all the travelers you meet and the countless hours to share endless stories, you’re bound to make some lifelong friends on the bus. I still talk to about half a dozen people regularly that I met on the bus. They are also all German. You meet a lot of cool people on the Baz Bus. It’s almost like a hostel on wheels when it comes to meeting fellow travelers and making friends.
Easily the best part of the Baz Bus is clicking with someone right away and the rest of the ride breezing by. As tempting as it is to just plug your headphones in and nod your head for several hours, there are a lot of connections and conversations you might be missing out on. Good company always trumps anything else and the Baz Bus practically guarantees good company.