Home Is Where The Heart Is

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Karma Backpackers is situated in the town of Kestell, midway between Johannesburg and Durban, and on the doorstep of the Drakensberg Mountains. We have a reputation for comfortable accommodation in a homely, relaxed environment. Our location at the centre of the main backpackers route makes us the ideal stopover for hiking the Drakensberg and exploring Lesotho, and our small-town hospitality makes for a beautifully out-of-the-ordinary, memorable experience.

We are a small, intimate backpackers catering to a maximum of 17 guests. Our accommodation consists of 3 double bedrooms, a family room sleeping four and a separate dorm which sleeps six. We're in a house with large bedrooms (5 x 6 metres), a lounge/dining room and a large kitchen. After a long day's hike, you'll appreciate our bathtub, and the outside dorm has its own showers and toilet facilities. The sprung timber floors, wood-burning stoves in the lounge and kitchen, and old-fashioned hot water bottles in the beds on cold winter nights contribute to our cozy atmosphere. On warm summer days our guests can barbecue on our patio or sit and chat in one of our garden's little hideaways.

The main attractions in the area are the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains and in particular, the thrilling day trip to the top of Tugela Falls - Africa's highest waterfall, with a dizzying 948 metre drop into the famous Amphitheatre. It's a must-see on your tour of South Africa, and we are the nearest backpackers to the start of the hike. There are several other Drakensberg hikes, ranging from 45 minute walks through the wonderful scenery of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, to the 12-day Grand Traverse in the capable hands of Zee - South Africa's top woman Mountain Guide. Seeing some of the tens of thousands of Central Location - Midway between Johanneburg and Durban San rock paintings in the area, cross-border trips into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho and visits to the charming tourist town of Clarens are also on the menu.

Your hosts are Vera Ann and Lucio, who established the backpackers in 2004. Bilbo and Ruby (our Staffordshire Terriers) and Pixel, our uncomplicated cat, complete our family. Vera Ann is well known in foodie circles for her creative, award-winning homemade jams, a selection of which is always available for you to taste or to have for breakfast - free! Coffee, tea, milk and sugar are also free. Vegetarian breakfasts with muffins, pancakes, homemade yoghurt, stewed fruit and toast are available. For lunch and dinner, our self-catering kitchen is very well equipped, and in season you can help yourself to vegetables from our garden and fruit from our orchard. There are also several supermarkets in Kestell if you need to stock up on groceries. If you prefer to eat out, there is a historic pub in town and several restaurants within driving distance, including our favourite - Demelash Ethiopian Restaurant in Phuthaditjhaba, which is both entirely authentic and reasonably priced, with some of the best coffee in Africa!

Scientists say that all humanity originated in Africa, while backpackers from around the World say that coming to Karma feels like coming home. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not - but regardless, we're looking forward to meeting you!

Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Visit Golden Gate National Park
Stunning Scenery & Easy Walks…
Day trip to The Amphitheatre
Fun Day Trips
Hiking, Cultural Tours, Horse Trails, Lesotho…
Tugela Falls
Climb Africa's Highest Waterfall!
Feel on top of the World…
Drakensberg hikes - view of The Amphitheatre
Explore the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains with Zee!

"She is a true adventurer, a warrior woman, and a joy to talk and walk with."
- Julia Bradbury, BBC Presenter
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What other backpackers say:

  • "So much warmth & generous hospitality here. We came from a long hike and many very busy backpackers to find a calm port. Bath was amazing. Jams are the best. Very sweet to offer to make pizza for our hungry bellies - hit the spot! We hope to be back someday soon. All the best to the two of you!" - Rhyanna & Eric
  • "Thanks for everything, we had an incredible time here. It feels like a home rather than a hostel. Thanks for your guidance on treks, sights and especially the Ethiopian restaurant. It was a pleasure meeting you." - Tilda & Timea
  • "This place is amazing, it was the warmest, most comfortable backpackers I've ever stayed at. It was the most relaxing time I've ever had. It felt like family here. Better Christmas than at home. Cheers!" - Andy
  • "Thanks for the wonderful accommodation. It's a beautiful little house with good karma and lots of charm. Thank you for the tasty muffins. We will be back!" - Fabian
  • "Thank you very much for the lovely stay, your delicious breakfast and interesting stories about South Africa and this region. We enjoyed the trip to Lesotho very much. Zee is a wonderful person. Keep up the good work. Karma is definitely one of the most relaxed and well-equiped backpackers we have seen so far." - Laura & Karel
  • "Thank you so much Vera Ann for the amazing stay. The backpackers is so homely, and we felt so welcome. Also thank you for the advice on hiking and eating out, both were most helpful." - Adrienne & Mitch
  • "We had a lovely stay with you! Thank you for being such a lovely and entertaining host. We love the house and garden, and your jam truly is amazing. We'll certainly plan a visit next time we're in South Africa! It felt like home away from home." - Zoe & Dylan
  • "Coming here was like coming home. Close to the beautiful mountains which we really enjoyed. A lovely garden and a relaxing atmosphere. Thank you for having us." - Vilde & Josephine
  • "Thank you for the lovely stay! Your house and Drakensberg were beautiful and well worth the visit." - Evonne & Rupert
Backpackers interior - lounge
Feel At Home
Relaxed, Personal & Friendly…
Backpackers accommodation
Comfortable Accommodation
Large, spotlessly clean rooms…
Traditional African clothing
Traditional African Fashions
Read about our home industries…
Karma homemade jam
Award-winning Homemade Jams
Try them all - Free!
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Credit Cards accepted
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Self-catering facilities
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Supermarkets nearby
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Vegetarian friendly
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Home Produce on sale
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Rated "Fabulous" on HostelWorld
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Certificate of Excellence Winner
GPS: S 28°18.650', E 28°41.950' 071 471 3694 - 083 442 3973 info@karmalodge.co.za…

Karma Backpackers, 2 Piet Retief Street, Kestell, Drakensberg Area

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Bumpkins Backpackers is a Midlands Meander backpackers situated on a farm on the way to Durban, 250km from Karma Backpackers. They're a fun backpackers with lots of freebies and a wide range of stuff to do and see, including the Mandela Capture Site, Karkloof Canopy Tours, the Midlands Meander arts & foodie's route, hikes through indigenous forest, go-carting, horse riding, African wildlife walks and much more.
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