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“Nice hostel, but didn't like their sales attitude!”

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Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge
Reviewed November 25, 2012

Indeed poor service and very much sales orientated hostel. This really ruined my impression of this hostel. The hostel itself is nice, but got totally disguisted by their attitude. Bring enough cash! You cannot pay with any cards here!!

When we arrived we got a very long detailed sales talk about the trips they offered. We planned to do some hiking on our own and not interested to do any of their overpriced tours. We asked about the possibilities to do hiking on your own, and the sales person gave us some maps, which also gave driving directions on how to get there, he was very short on telling us anything about things to do by yourself and did not give any information. If you do not buy, it seems they are not very interested in spending much time on you. No service.

The tours they offered are overpriced. Travellers who are not travelling by car are somewhat relaiable on these tours to see the Drakensberg (as this place lies in the middle of nowhere and you are helpless if you dont have a car), they make handy use of this and that is probably why they can charge what they charge. The same for the meals. If you cant drive to the supermarket you will have to buy their overpriced meals. They communual kitchens are very dirty. The stoves were so sticky with greace, it looked like they had not been cleaned in years. Perhaps they want you to buy their meals. If you see the amount of people booking the tours, you assume they are making very good money.

The hostel itself is nice, especially the main building. We stayed in a double room, which was ok. Except for the bathroom which was very scruffy. See photo's.
We stayed 3 nights.

In the end we decided to do one of their tours to Lesotho, as the roads are poor and we did not want to risk it with our rental vehicle. In the morning the salesperson tried to remember everybody to sign up for the meal, telling what was on the menu that day and obviously wanted to sell some more! The trip was a good experience and the guide was very good.

At the end of our stay we asked the reception guy if he could phone a hostel for us for our next stay. So far all hostels we stayed do this with no exception. But in this hostel you are directed with a fake smile to the payphone. We could have booked online otherwise, but the WIFI had been broken for the last 2 weeks. When we checked out the next day, we were not asked if we enjoyed our stay but got a comment like: "Pay at the bar, my till is still closed".... Nice! Would not reccomend this hostel.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank The-travelfraggles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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260 - 266 of 369 reviews

Reviewed November 4, 2012

I stayed four nights and had a wonderful time. The accommodation is functional and reasonable priced, the bar area very entertaining and great to meet fellow travellers and the guide for the tours of both Tugela Falls and Cathedral Peak (Simphiwe) very good! A major disappointment however was that the Lodge was less than helpful to assist with a shuttle to get back to the next big town (Harrismith). While the pick up worked out, the drop off was refused and I had to rely on a trucker to give me a lift so that I just made it to catch my bus to Johannesburg.

  • Stayed: October 2012
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Thank Olesch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2012 via mobile

This place is just awesome with regards to view, look and feel. Someone with a healthy dose of creativity did the decor in this place! Who ever thought of a climbing wall in a bar deserves a prize, makes for great laughs. If one has to be critical they need to ensure that all showers have hot water at all times.

  • Stayed: September 2012
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Thank Bittenbytravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2012

pros: the place is beautiful and creative, great lawn outside, nice bar and lounge. the more expensive rooms are nice.
cons: dorms are insanely cramped and crowded, and twin/ doubles with shared bathroom are not good- tiny room, bathroom is quite far and outside (and its cold there at night!), and in one twin, there was a bunkbed instead of normal bed, with stained and torn sheets and the matress was so worn that the springs really cut into the back. - it fits in to the general feeling that they want people top pay more, or else they wont get good service.
most hiking routs are very far- at least an hour driving.
they are very pushy with their tours, and try to discourage you from going alone (and saving a lot of money) we went on the lesotho tour with them (big group- 20 people, so not very intimate and no patiance for the slower ones), and decided to go tour the ampetheater alone the next day- the woman running the place said not to go , there will be a storm, but they took a tour out themself. we asked their guide once for a direction "to make sure" - and then he had the nerve to ask our father (who didnt come) to pay him for a full day tour, when we came with our own car and didnt even walk with them.
the rest of the staff is also quite keen on having you spend as much as possible on their venues- it just doesnt feel nice- you dont feel like a guest, more like a wallet.
also- they try to discourage you from going to other places in the drackansberg aside from there. they dissed sani pass's lesotho ture (we did both of them, and sani pass's was actually better) and tell you not to go there- that's plain out non collegeal- these places are miles apart- one can go to both .. we went to sani pass before and heard people coming from amphetheater,who were warned by the staff not to go to sani pass, and it didnt make sense... then we came ourselves and heard how they diss them - really for no reason.
soooo- although the place itself is truly amazing, are expeirence was a bit ruined by the non-friendly, profit-driven feeling we got from the people who run it.

Room Tip: get an on suite, and dont ask for room service, as we came back to a room full of smoke smell..
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank miryam g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2012

We booked this lodge despite the warnings about the difficulty people have faced with staff here. Unfortunately, having no transport of our own meant this was the easiest place to get to, and we decided to risk it. There was good and bad:

GOOD - the location is pretty and peaceful. It is quite remote, which could be good or bad, depending on what you want! The room (a double) was near the bar but not too noisy. Comfortable double bed. Tea and coffee facilities supplied. There is internet, a bar, food supplied (quite nice, ZAR 100 per dinner), ping pong table and pool table. There are also bikes for hire (ZAR 70 for half day).

BAD - We only had 1 full day at this place and wanted to do the Lesotho tour as promoted on their website. Turns out they don't mention the tours run day about, and for our day it was the Amphitheatre full day hike instead (Lesotho tour not possible that day). They would be better giving out a brochure rather than pushing for the tours as soon as you arrive. There really isn't much else to do there, the prices are R500 per tour. They say the hike is "easy" but it is quite difficult, with scurrying up rocks & climbing down steep cliff-face ladders required (plus about 12ks of walking). We wanted a transfer to Central Drakensberg area, instead of assisting with arrangements (as most accommodation places would do) they simply said it was pretty much impossible, and instead started rattling off plans for all their own tour options instead. We gave up on it in the end. If you want to stay in the Drakensberg there are much better options, at this place you are secluded and pretty much stuck in the middle of nowhere. The bar seemed quiet (although we were there midweek).

I guess if you had your own transport this place may be great. But when relying on public transport it is extremely isolated and your options are limited.

If they were more accommodating to tourists wanting to branch out and see the other sights of the Drakensberg (not just tours promoted by this lodge) it would actually be a great place to stay. But we wont be back.

Room Tip: We had a double which was near the bar, could be noisy but luckily for us the bar was quiet so we ha...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank AnnaCS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012 via mobile

Swimming pool, Sauna, cheap food and drinks. We stayed 3 nights in a double room with private w/c facilities. Great shared kitchen facilities and bbq areas. Family friendly. Great day hikes lasting 6 hours each. Bicycles to hire on your down days.

  • Stayed: September 2012
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Thank Kevin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 23, 2012

I recently had a great stay at a lovely place in the mountains called Amphitheatre Backpackers. Quirky decor and amazing views was my first impression. I also found the prices to be excellent compared with other venues in the area, I mean a twin room goes for R280 a night! Also the trips are very decently priced, all transport, food, equipment and guides included for what worked out to be R440 per day. I also found the place to be extremely clean and the staff friendly. As someone who enjoys gardening I must comment on their fantastic collection of indigenous succulents and aloes. I noticed a lot of little birds enjoying the plants as well. The music in the bar was also wonderful, a collection of interesting world music. Great going!

Room Tip: I stayed in a twin all to myself.. very good price.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank daylilysummer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge

Address: R74, Jagersrust 3354, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Jagersrust
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Jagersrust
Price Range: $40 - $95 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The venue is really amazing. The lodge is found on a stunning 300 hectares of land near the foot of the Amphitheatre (Royal Natal National Park) and Cathedral Peak. The Mpande River weaves through the lands. There are buck, small mammals and a fantastic array of wild birds near the 2 dams and a picture postcard view from the lawn, a 360 degree panorama that takes in the entire Northern range from the Amphitheatre all the way to Cathkin Peak. The lodge is a base from which you can explore different sections and all the highlights of the Drakensberg Park each day. Built from stone, thatch and wood, the place is like an artist's sculpture with stained glass, metal and wooden carvings, mosaics and beautiful indigenous rockeries. ... more   less 
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