South Africa’s Baz Bus, which links more than 180 backpacker hostels in 40 different destinations across the country, has become  Fair Trade Tourism approved.

Established in November 1995 by “retired” South African backpacker Barry Zeidel, Baz Bus came into being as a result of Barry travelling across Europe on a “hop-on, hop-off” bus service which he knew could be replicated in his homeland.

“I was amazed at how easy it was, and that I was not restricted to a set itinerary and could get on and off for as long as I wanted, making friends and having adventures along the way,” says Barry, who immediately set about researching backpacking in South Africa on his return.

A qualified accountant and entrepreneur, Barry is passionate about backpacking, and the Baz Bus network has helped to stimulate and unify South Africa’s backpacker community as well as making it easy, and fun, for backpackers from all over the world to explore and enjoy the Rainbow Nation.

Today, Baz Bus carries more than 10,000 independent travellers along its door-to-door route between Johannesburg and Cape Town every year, connecting like-minded backpackers as they relax en-route, safe in the knowledge that when they get off the bus, it will be at the door of their hostel or connecting with a pre-arranged shuttle to their destination.

The company is also making a huge difference to the lives of people in communities around Cape Town through various projects, supporting soccer teams in Hout Bay, a children’s shelter in Woodstock and the Wola Nani community centre for women and children living with HIV/Aids in Khayelitsha. It is currently building new toilet facilities and classrooms at Babes Creche and the Elundini Children’s home in Du Noon.

“It made perfect sense for us to join the Fair Trade Tourism family,” says Baz Bus marketing manager Lisa McLaughlin. “We’ve always been committed to protecting the assets on which tourism in South Africa depends, especially where communities and the environment are concerned. Travelling on the Baz Bus reduces a traveller’s carbon footprint and our clients can rest assured that their holiday spend is directly benefitting the people in the communities along our route and in the projects we support,” she adds.

Lisa says that being part of Fair Trade Tourism is of huge value to Baz Bus. “It ensures the interests in the communities in which we work are being met and increases awareness of the issues and challenges facing tourism in South Africa,” she explains. “Now we get to network with like-minded businesses and share in their experiences as we work together towards making South Africa a more desirable destination.”

Fair Trade Tourism is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism in southern Africa and has certified businesses in South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar, as well as mutually recognised programmes in the Seychelles and Tanzania. Its tourism certification programme was developed in 2004 and in December 2011 became the first in Africa to be recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

“Fair Trade Tourism also grows awareness about responsible tourism to travellers and assists tourism businesses to operate more sustainably through intensive, hands-on training and certification readiness programmes,” explains the organisation’s managing director Nivashnee Naidoo.

“We are particularly excited to welcome Baz Bus on board,” she says. “We have a considerable number of certified businesses working in the backpacker and youth travel market, so having Baz Bus become part of our growing family allows us to offer the complete package to backpackers wanting to explore South Africa in a sustainable, responsible way.”


Visit to Community Projects Thursday, 15 August 2013


The property consists of 2 classrooms which houses the children according to age groups. One is a basic wooden structure and the other a proper concrete classroom extending to the road.

When we visited the crèche in February the immediate need was a proper fence in front of the property as the existing one was just a makeshift fence made of wooden planks. This would allow the kids more freedom to play outside of the classroom.

We proudly donated the funds of over R20 000 to erect the fence and hence our visit to view the fence.  The community is so grateful that their kids are able to safely play outside and we feel honoured to have assisted in giving the children the freedom to play safely outside as all children should. We also took other items of food that they desperately need on a monthly basis to keep the children fed such as rice, samp, mielie meal and muffins and much needed toilet paper.

We also spoilt the children with party packets filled with delicious goodies.

When we arrived there the wooden structure had collapsed due to the bad weather. Harriet had to rent a room at a neighbours house and house some of the children there.

They are now in desperate need of a new classroom and ablution facilities as the children use buckets outside the classrooms

Harriet has done an amazing job of pushing forward with her dream to educate the children and get them ready for school and her commitment to improving the school is evident.

The Union of Jewish Women are working closely with Harriet to realise some of these challenges that she is facing by raising awareness and getting sponsorships and donations.


We also visited this crèche and donated groceries for childrens daily meals.

As usual we always spoil the children with goodie bags full of treats.

Indy has managed to secure the premises including the ground from the council at a very good price. The Union of Jewish Women are also raising funds and getting sponsorships and donations so that she can purchase the land.

Please view our video clips from the Harriet and Indy thanking Baz Bus for all that we have done for them! : Baz Bus community project 1: Elundini disabled creche Baz Bus community project 2: Babes Creche


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Visit to Elundini Creche in Dunoon – community project!

On Wednesday, 7 February 2013, we visited this disabled creche in Dunoon!

his has been a long term project of ours and it has been great to have participated in the improvements via contributions and see this crèche grow to where it is today.

It now has 3 classrooms to house over 70 children including many disabled kids with specific disabilities. Indy the principal showed us around each classroom explaining to us the different age groups and activities the teachers were doing with the kids.

There is also a good sized play area, kitchen, sleeping area, ablution facilities ablution facilities (which Baz Bus helped to build) and a combi bus (which Baz Bus made a contribution to the purchase). Indy is now in the process of purchasing the land from the city council which will be a great achievement for her.

The children were so excited to receive their goodie bags and we had another successful morning spent with these amazing children!


Visit to Community Project Thursday 7 February 2013

 Babes Creche

Our visits to the crèches coincided with the beginning of the school year for both crèches.

At Babes Creche there were 80 children mostly toddlers and some babies which Harriet has taken on. It was delightful to see the happy children eagerly awaiting us. The property consists of 2 classrooms which houses the children according to age groups. One is a basic wooden structure and the other a proper concrete classroom extending to the road.

She desperately needs to erect a proper fence in front of the property as the existing one is just a makeshift fence made of wooden planks. This will allow the kids more freedom to play outside of the classroom. They are also in desperate need of ablution facilities as the children use buckets outside the classrooms. Harriet has done an amazing job of pushing forward with her dream to educate the children and get them ready for school and her commitment to improving the school is evident.

The Union of Jewish Women are working closely with Harriet to realise some of the challenges that she is facing by raising awareness and getting sponsorships and donations so that she can get proper ablution facilities and fence in play areas for the children. To this effect Baz Bus has contributed a substantial donation to these causes.

We made up gift bags for the children filled with delicious goodies and custom made gift bags with stickers to hand out to the children. The stickers were meant to be used as an interactive activity with the children and which they thoroughly enjoyed. What a well behaved bunch of toddlers and it was great to see that they are all well trained in not littering. Each child threw their wrappers in the bin after they had finished eating!!

Children have such pure joy no matter what circumstances in their lives so we always come away from these visits feeling the love.


Wool donation from Coast to Coast for Babes Educare Centre in Du Noon!!!

Babes Educare is a pre school run by Harriet and her helpers. Harriet is a woman with a big heart. She has a small structure next to her home where she houses 75 kids. The age range is from 2 – 4 yrs of age. The kids are well looked after and get fed by her twice a day. The crèche times are from 6am to 6pm.

We have adopted this project and visited them in August and stocked them with educational boxes that the helpers can use to educate and teach the children. We also bought blankets for all the children. Each child received a food pack and a toy pack which they thoroughly enjoyed. Harriet also needed a pot which she can use to cater in bulk for the children and we also took a pot through to her after the visit!

The Union for Jewish Women, whom we have a partnership with, supplied knitted beanies for each child. Geoff from Coast to Coast joined us on the day and was touched and wanted to contribute in some way. As the children are always in need of warm clothing for the winter season and early spring he donated wool to the Union of Jewish Women. They will distribute the wool to knitting groups who will knit jerseys and scarves for the children.

Thanks Geoff!!!


Baz Bus helps build a house as part of Mandela Day celebrations.

Baz Bus was given a very exciting opportunity to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s blitz build as part of our Mandela Day celebrations!

This International Mandela week build took place from the 16-21 July 2012. Baz Bus was invited to take part on day 5.The house was situated in Mfuleni township. The main tasks to finish the house was building a stoep, filling the gap between the house and the roof, putting up the doors and windows, varnishing the doors, the clean up and the most exciting part handing the keys over to the new home owners.

We were briefed by the team from Habitat for Humanity early Friday morning with the main task being to finish off the new home. Monica our group leader taught us our motivational chant for the day. It went like this “Daga, Daga, Daga”,we replied “Gooi, Gooi,Gooi” then Monica went on “Spyker, Spyker, Spyker” we repeated “Hammer, Hammer, Hammer”. Habitat- Hoo haa.

I think we woke up the whole community, we shouted this chant at the top of our voices. In English it means throw the daga (cement mixed with sand), take the nails and hammer it down. It was lots of fun. We were pressed for time with dark clouds creeping over our heads, we had to get as much done before the rain came down.

It did rain eventually and we were given the township raincoats AKA a black bag. I can’t believe how much work goes into building a house. After tea time the rain went away, this was perfect timing to get the house cleaned up and ready for the new home owners.

The most special part of the day was handing the keys to the new home owners. We presented the family with a bible as a blessing for their new home. Every company was given the chance to say a few words of encouragement. What a wonderful way to spend our 67minutes. A quote to say thank you from Habitat: “With your help we take families out of poverty housing and into the reality of owning their very first home. Thank you for bringing HOPE to these families”


Baz Bus Assists with Transport for Community Projects

Baz Bus was invited to join the Union of Jewish Women Kesher Group on two mornings at their new projects. They handed over a donation of much needed, essential equipment to the following projects:

 Khuti Home Based Day care centre for children with disabilities (Khayelitsha)

 Yomelelani Home for children with disabilities – 24hr facility (Khayelitsha)

Babes Educare Centre – a preschool (Dunoon)

 Laphumilanga – senior centre (Dunoon)

We assisted with transport of visitors to these centres on one of the mornings. Here are 2 articles which were published in the Vukani and Daily Sun newspapers.

We are always humbled to share so many rewarding and heart rendering times together with UJW Kesher Group trying to make a difference in the lives of so many needy children.



Update on helping the blind to see.

We would like to update everyone on the progress of the project Helping the blind to see

If you would like to read how this project originated please read the blog post  Helping the blind to see  18 September 2011

Since then, another 3 villagers have had eye operations and Baz Bus once again provided the transport. Here are some pictures of the villages taken pre and post operation.

It’s is such a privilege to be involved in such a worthy cause. They will certainly enjoy an improved life and joy in being able to see.



Baz Bus strives to be a proactive company involving ourselves in various community projects.



Helping the blind to see

A few weeks ago a long-time friend, Dr. Will Mapham, came to visit Bulungula again. He’s an eye-specialist and together with our Community Care worker, Nomzingisi Hopisi, he managed to assess all community members with eye problems. They found a number of people with cataracts that could be removed with surgery. Will, the Bulungula Lodge and the Bulungula Incubator then kicked into action. Dr. Will managed to arrange that the blind patients could get their surgery done at Uitenhage Hospital by Dr Mark Jacoby – awesome!

The next challenge was how to get the patients to Uitenhage – 9 hours away. Bulungula Lodge, through its membership of the SA Youth Tourism Confederation contacted the Baz Bus and they generously offered to transport the patients and Nomzingisi for free from Mthatha to PE and back again. Next, we contacted Lungile Backpackers who generously offered free accommodation for the duration of their stay in PE. The Bulungula Lodge and Coffee Shack shuttles were used to get them to and from Mthatha to meet the Baz Bus. And lastly the Bulungula Incubator raised the funds to pay for their food and provided the chaperone.

Nomzingisi set off with the two patients, Zwelithembile Dodwana and Mabele Boklein on the 21st of August 2011, filled with trepidation as neither of them had ever left the village before to travel so far and to such a foreign destination. After a comfortable trouble-free trip on the Baz Bus they were warmly welcomed by Lungile Backpackers – this was the first time either of the two men has stayed in a lodge/hotel in their lives!


Nervous! Mabhele and Zwelithembile on their way to PE on the Baz Bus.

The next morning Dr. Will met the group and they set off to the Uitenhage Hospital where Zwelithembile and Mabele were assessed again. Unfortunately Mabele’s eye was found to have additional damage that couldn’t be surgically treated but Zwelithembile’s cataracts were deemed to be operable and so all was set to go for the surgery.


Awaiting surgery…

Dr Jacoby performed the surgery on Thursday morning and within a few minutes Zwelithembile could see! He had doubted all along that this operation would help – and so he was absolutely amazed just how quick and painless the surgery was and how profound the results were.

After that, there was the whirlwind journey back to Bulungula with the Baz Bus and the Coffee Shack shuttle. There was great excitement in the village as never before had a blind person regained their sight – and when Zwelithembile walked about pointing out all the things he could now see there was genuine amazement at this medical “miracle.”


Zwelithembile and Nomzingisi at his home over looking the Bulungula River

As Zwelithembile said: “while I was blind, a road was built to our village, but I never saw it. All I could see was the difference between night and day. Now I can see everything: the road, my cattle and my family. Thank you to everyone who helped me!” He will be slaughtering a sheep soon for a feast in celebration of his eyesight.


I can see!!!


The view from Zwelithembile’s house that he can now see

Once again we would like to thank everyone involved in helping Zwelithembile regain his eyesight:

  • Dr Mark Jacoby, Dr Will Mapham, Sister Safers, Sister Kosi and all the theatre staff
  • All the SAYTC members who helped: Baz Bus, Lungile Backpackers and Coffee Shack 
  • and a special thank you to Nomzingisi Hopisi from the Bulungula Incubator who displayed great determination and passion to ensure that this project was successful.

Baz Bus strives to be a proactive company involving ourselves in various community projects. Find out more about our Community Projects on our About Us page.