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Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge

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2   What a pity! We a family of 3 persons stayed 2 nights a few weeks ago. The main reason was that we expected "Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge" to be close to the Amphitheatre mountains and because it is a Bazbus Station. The Amphitheatre Mountain is absolutely great and it was one of the highlights of our SA trip. The hostel itself is located directly at a main road surrounded by huge farmland. The distance to the Mountains (entrance Royal Natal Park) and the next shop (in Drakensville) is around 20-30 min by car. The hostel provides a lot of space (probably a former farm) and everything looks to be prepared for big groups (big outdoor kitchen, many BBQ possibilities). The hostel invested a lot to provide a typical African lodge feeling (buildings, decoration). Everything is clean and well maintained. The hostel offers different organized daytrips and shuttle services to the Park. Drinking water is only available in bottles and has to be bought from the hostel. No other shopping possibilities in the hostel. Wi-Fi is only available via expensive satellite connection. The location of the hostel is ideal for guests with an own car (enough parking places) who plan to go hiking in the mountains while guests arriving with the Bazbus are fully depended on the hostel. We experienced the hostel as a noisy place since the traffic from the road is very loud (echo effect of the mountains). The direct environment is not really inviting for walking or hiking (farmland, fences, bushland). Guests without a car have to consider that a longer stay at the hostel is very expensive since you have to pay for everything. After a long travel it took us more than one hour to get the key from the Manager. This was mainly due to the fact that it took some time to find our reservation in a "big book" and especially because the Manager insisted to sell the day trips to every new arrival separately. Our impression was that the Manager is mainly interested in selling the own daytrips. She was not interested at all in our own plans (hiking ourselves in the mountain). The Manager is a very pushy, self-opinionated person without any understanding of how to treat guests. To understand her personality please read all her remarks on other review sites. Most of the other staff is friendly especially a young girl at the reception who was very professional and supportive. Recommendation for the hostel -- Due their location the hostel should offer at least one transport the day to and from the park free of charge. We are sure that this would attract a lot of hiking guests to stay longer. The hostel should offer drinking water at reasonable prices. Instead of a souvenir shop they should offer some basic food articles for self-catering guests. The Manager should really rethink if she is the right person having personal contacts to guests. In especially she should rethink her behavior to justify constructive criticism getting from guests. Justifications on other portals should only be done if they can announce improvements or if a statement is totally wrong or unfair. We would have loved to stay longer in one of SA nicest areas and would have spent more in the hostel but the behavior of the Manager caused us to leave the hostel early than planned.  , age 50, German ()
1   Deceptive and potentially dangerous We booked this hostel for a short overnight stay between Jo'burg and Durban. When asking about transportation back to Harrismith the following day, we were told via email "Don't worry, no problem, we'll get you back." We had actually been warned at the previous hostel that this place had a reputation for pushing the day tours a bit too aggressively. Upon arrival (on the Baz Bus), it became clear that management was quite unhappy that we weren't taking any tours and were just spending the night, and they were actually a bit surly about it. We asked about the transport back to Harrismith for the following day (so that we could connect to our bus to Durban at 2 pm), and were told that the only option was to take one of their day tours, which would put us back in town too late to make the connection -- not at all in line with the info they had given us in the original emails. Finally, the girl said that it might be possible to go out to the main road and flag down a mini-bus that could take us back to town but that nothing was certain, so we decided to try that. The following morning we got out to the road, but all the mini-buses were full and no one else would stop to pick us up. I went back in to discuss with the manager and all she would say is "you should have taken the day tour" repeatedly. Completely rude and defiant, especially considering what a difficult position we were in. Finally we had to actually hitchhike with someone to the next town in the wrong direction, and try to figure out an option from there. This town was pure local, not a word of English, and pure chaos -- buses everywhere in the mud, and no one seeming to know what was going where. We had backpacks on and it was clear who the tourists were, and we were getting bad stares. Finally we were able to work out one of the buses, but we had to give them extra money for a detour from the normal route. The point of the story is that management here has a complete and total disregard for the safety of their guests. In staying at hundreds of hostels over the years, I've never seen anything even close to this. Considering the remote location of the place and south africa's reputation for crime, their behavior was wildly irresponsible. We were put in a situation of real danger which was totally avoidable had they been upfront in the beginning about the transport, or if they had cared at all what happened to us after the fact once we were there. The male manager actually drove by us in a car as we were out on the road trying to hitchhike, and couldn't have cared less. This place is just short of a full blown scam. There is a very real possibility that you will be put in a vulnerable or dangerous position if you stay here, and management will turn a blind eye once that occurs. There are lots of other options in south africa and considering how tricky the country can be vis-a-vis safety, it's just not worth the risk.  , USA ()
1   Lies and Deceit I echo everything about the appalling attitude of the management and I hate it when such people take advantage of young backpackers in the pursuit of money. When asked about the Tugela Falls hike, we were told that it was a 2 hour drive away and only accessible with a 4x4, that the hike could not be done without a guide, and they were the only place who offered the hike at $500. Absolute garbage! It cost me $60, drove to Sentinel Peak in a Corolla, and hiked to the falls unguided. Don't give this place your money. There are far better options in the area.  , age 34, British ()
1   Amphitheatre backpackers (0 grading) amphitheater backpackers, this is one establishment thats does false advertising, what you see in the internet ain't what it is. Was very happy when we booked it with my group, when we got there things turned to be different from what we saw in the internet. The pool you see online is very dirty and small. The place itself is a mess and the people who manage it are not friendly -- they need a major attitude adjustment and they know nothing about hospitality. Personally they should revamp the place and replace them attitude. Me and my crew we demanded our money back. Well they claimed that people like the place -- I'm pretty much sure tourists might like it, not south africans. If not revamped TGSA should close them for good. It should be bought to their attention. People deserve a homey, friendly, clean, and safe environment.  , South African ()
1   Disgusting!! DO NOT stay at this place. I've stayed there twice now and it's an embarrassment as a South African, to think that anyone (especially our visitors to this country) is treated the way the owners/ hosts treat the guests there. You become like a number. Not a person. They only want you to spend your money. They charge FAR TOO MUCH for their tours/ hikes. Be warned, ALL of these hikes can be done alone/ without them. Their drinks cost the same as the bars in Sandton (one of the most expensive places in SA) and the attitude of the hosts is very defensive and nasty. Don't stay here. They do not assist you in doing things in the area without their service, the way backpackers are supposed to. They want you to spend your money at their place. And the food is inedible. They have a huge staff turnover, which should tell you alot! Even the people they employ don't like them!  , South Africa ()
1   Rude staff, beautiful area Please do visit the Drakensberg but if you can, stay somewhere else. The owners are just terrible, and seem to make it a habit to yell at guests. I have never seen people in the hospitality industry behave this way.  , American ()
1   Beautiful place, very rude and agressive staff This is a very wonderful and beautiful place. Such a shame the management is completely destroying your experience here. They are very keen on you paying a lot of money. Try to talk you in a one of their tours in a very aggressive and unfriendly way. It seems that their favorite phrase is "it's not my fault". We had a argument with the owner and I was shocked by her attitude. I traveled quite a lot, but never experienced something like this. Don't go there, there are nicer places to stay around. And yes you can do the amphitheatre hike on your own.  , The Netherlands ()
4   A good place Visited in April 2012, and I enjoyed my time there. Although it's in the middle of nowhere, there's lots to do in the hostel itself, from day hikes nearby to the rock wall or hot tub inside. It has an excellent atmosphere with reggae music or Jack Johnson playing, nice decorations, and lots of places to read or relax in the main building before heading off to your room for quiet. The rooms (I stayed in the dorm) were clean but smaller than average, and a little cramped for 6 people. The food was not great, but wasn't bad either (there are no other options around), and be warned, the cocktails are not boozy at all. We did the Lesotho and the Tugela Falls hikes and would recommend both; although they are long hikes, they were definitely a great experience with some of the most incredible views I've ever seen. The staff is very helpful, although they seem overworked and sometimes just a little grumpy. They have a great system set up for paying everything (food, drinks, hikes) onto a tab (although it does make you spend more money of course!). All around, I would recommend it.  , USA ()

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