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“Dissapointing”

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Amapondo Backpackers Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Grahamstown, Eastern Cape
Level Contributor
16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Dissapointing”
Reviewed April 22, 2013

After hearing so much about this amazing backpackers, we were very dissapointed to arrive to a smelly room and run down facility. We were hoping to book one of their cottages, which unfortunately were full. Being a family of 5 the reservations lady assured us the room she was accommodating us in would be family friendly and close to bathroom and kitchen facilities. Unfortunately this was not the case. There was an awesome vibe and the pub and restaurant great, but the facilities are in desperate need of maintenance and the rooms all need to be debugged and have a good clean. Very disspointed.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Ulovane1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, April 26, 2013
Well this is disappointing. Reviews like yours are always hard to swallow. But they are helpful and keep us on our toes, so THANKS, for what that is worth. Firstly I am really glad that you heard so many good things about us, but I am really saddened to hear that you were let down. I am however glad that you describe the atmosphere at our pub and restaurant as AWESOME. as we strive to keep it a BUSTLING place, with great food, good music, where people meet, and friends are brought together. In the next few weeks, we are going to install DRAUGHT BEER - the very first in Port St Johns.

My wife and I bought this business in August last year, and knew full well when we bought it that it was in much need of TLC. There are lots of little jobs, such as giving it a re-paint, and generally fixing up the place, and believe me, we are working hard and persistently at this. Since we bought AMAPONDO, this is the first time that we've had time to get stuck into it. (Its been SO BUSY till now). During the quieter months we have a focused and structured plan to renovate, repair and maintain. Next week, for instance, we are beginning building two more PRIVATE EN-SUITE COTTAGES.

Its a shame that our existing PRIVATE EN-SUITE COTTAGES were fully booked when you were here. They are very popular and quickly get booked out. The Turtle Cove Cottage would have been ideal for 5 of you. The alternative would either have been sharing two rooms, or squash into one of our 4-bed family rooms with one bed on the floor. Although we don't like to do this, sometimes we have to make do if the cottages are full and people want to all stay together. Though the dorms can be great too for bigger groups, I am guessing you did the latter, which is shame as it would have been a bit cramped. All of our rooms (doubles, family and dorms) run along a shared balcony facing the ocean, and depending on where about you were situated, you would have had to walk no more than 25m to the nearest toilet. The communal kitchen is situated on the eastern side of the property, and had you stayed on the western side, you may have had to walk no more than 50m, past the restaurant, to get to the communal kitchen area. We are planning to open a second communal kitchen this year too.

What disturbs me the most is that you described your room as 'smelly'. I am trying to figure out which room you stayed in, and am guessing it was Emithini? This room currently has a bit of a drainage issue, and after heavy rain, the walls get damp and this could have been the reason. Having such great views of the ocean has its problems, because being situated on the side of a hill means that we get a lot of run off when it rains. I assure you however, that all our bedding and linen is cleaned after every guest checks out. You also suggested 'debugging'. I am not quite sure what kind of bugs you were referring to, but we actually like most of the little creepy crawlies we get around here. Living in the rain forest means that loads of interesting critters visit. Its great fun to watch the geckos around the lights, the spiders that spin their beautiful webs outside on the verandahs, and all the other little crazy WILD COAST BUGS that show up. Any unwanted pests are exterminated as soon as they are seen, but we have never had any complaints of bed bugs or anything like that.

Thanks for your honest review. I hope my response has been helpful, and sorry for your disappointment. Please feel free to call me in person to discuss as I would love to hear your views directly. My direct phone number is 079 430 3371. Sincerely, Neil (Amapondo Owner)
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English first
Accra, Ghana
Level Contributor
54 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed April 7, 2013

What a sweet place - great service, YUMMY veg food and spectacular views. The facilities are clean, the atmosphere vibrant and the clientele super friendly. Port St. John's has some of the most spectacular scenery I've seen anywhere. Three days of hiking, canoeing and listening to the waves crash was just what the doctor ordered. We were a party of four, split between one of the chalets on the hill and a room in the block. Although small, the self catering chalet has an amazing view of the Indian Ocean and everything needed to self-cater. The shared facilities, both kitchen and washrooms/showers, are well taken care of and clean. Can't say enough great things about this charming place!

There is LOTS to do in the area, so I recommend a minimum of 3-4 nights. A longer stay would be even more worth it.

If you stay in a chalet or house on the hill, be sure to bring a torch and rain gear (just in case). For hikes, you need proper footwear and gear.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank dancingobroni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, April 26, 2013
What a FANTASTIC review. Thanks. We just had a team meeting and i read your review out to everyone. March was a busy time, especially over Easter, and our staff were on full steam ahead. I'm glad you had such a good time, and enjoyed our YUMMY food. And of course the views - we are very proud of our location with our SPECTACULAR views over the ocean, only a stone's throw away.

I am also glad you found everything clean. We have three house keeper working around the clock to clean rooms, and tidy up after everyone. These lovely ladies also add to the great atmosphere around here, together with the rest of our FRIENDLY staff of course.

We are very proud of our activities and tours, and our FRIENDLY tour guide - MC - is doing amazing things to make these tours not only FUN, but he also throws in bit of interesting knowledge and information about the FAUNA, FLORA and fascinating CULTURE of the WILD COAST. MC is passionate about the place and makes it his duty to research the area so as to make the tours more interesting and entertaining.

It sounds like you were comfortable in our PRIVATE EN-SUITE COTTAGES. Although the two smaller ones are a bit compact, they have everything you need. And we are looking at extending these in time.

In the self-catering cottage you would not really have needed to use the shared facilities such as the shared kitchen and washrooms/showers, but thanks for mentioning their cleanliness.

Thanks for the great review and we hope to see you here again...
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2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 26, 2013

We stayed at amapondo for a week... the friendly vibe, beautiful and interesting people made it very hard to leave. We especially enjoyed the waterfall walks, the rock pools and the mud baths, not to mention the lovely restaurant which served amazing vegetarian food at great prices meaning i did not have to cook or wash dishes once! The bar was lively with both guests and locals, everybody mingles and you get the real trans-sky experience all helped along by the huge dressing up basket given out to people by the awesome bar tenders and owners! We had a great, great time.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank paradise-baleal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, March 7, 2013
Glad you enjoyed our activities so much. We have recently employed an extra member to our team is going to act as an activities manager to further increase our range and promotion of activities on offer. We have also put together a Horse Riding program so we hope to get more people out riding along the beaches of the Wildcoast.

Our vegetarian menu is already good and is growing all the time. My wife is a strict vegetarian and so she loves to offer a diverse range of veggie options.

And of course the dress up box remains great fun and an integral part of our lively evenings. Nothing gets the party started like silly wigs and masks.

Please come again
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East London, South Africa
1 review
Reviewed February 6, 2013

This is an amazing place!!! Once you are there, you wont want to leave!! The people, the owners, the staff - are like family. There is never anything they cant or wont do to help you, all you have to do is ask. The atmosphere and vibe is fabulous. A real gem!! You never want to leave and if you do, you plan your return visit straight away!! Thank you again for making Andrew Cheyne's adventure just that much more special!!! You guys are really great and I would recommend this place to everyone - do yourselves a favour, become part of this family!!!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Belinda R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 22, 2013
Thanks for the great review Belinda. It is great to know you had such a wonderful time with us. I enjoyed speaking to you and appreciate the friendly and warm atmosphere you brought with you. It was also great to meet Andrew Cheyne, the gung-ho Kiwi that is cycling around the world to raise funds for good causes. Anyone interested should check him out on Facebook and support his cause.

Thanks again for visiting Amapondo and for the great review. You are always welcome to come back, and we hope to see you again soon.
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Baltimore
Level Contributor
28 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2013

I just visited Amapondo for the second time in 5 years with my fiance'. It was a great stay but there were a few issues we encountered. Numero uno was the loud drumming and music that played every one of the 4 nights we stayed - it carried on until 1:30/2:00 in the morning. It was a little ridiculous - I could still feel my heart racing at 2:00 in the morning with the beat of the drums - must be some kind of primal instinct b/c I could not get my heart to slow down till the drumming stopped. Also there was a lot of trance/club music playing which is to me harder to tolerate than the lighter pop/hippie music.

I noticed more locals in the bar area than the last time I stayed at Amapondo. It seemed as if the majority of the partiers making noise each night were locals and long term guests/boarders.

it was great to see a security guard on site watching the bar, although I never felt security was an issue.

We stayed in the Crystal House - a chalet on the top of the hill with the most amazing view of the sea. We barely wanted to leave the chalet the whole time, it was so lovely up there. Only suggestion would be to get new chairs for the balcony.

We were a bit disappointed though when we checked in, because it took several hours for our room to be ready as the ladies were cleaning it. But when we got to the room, I had to sweep it again myself b/c the floor was still dirty. There were forks and cutlery that were still dirty as well.

In any event the staff did come immediately to fix anything when we did tell them something was wrong (the sliding door was broken and a window in the bathroom was broken). We are happy to see the new owners are showing that Amapondo is a labor of love and they are making an extra effort to take care of the place and make improvements. Our room had a pamphlet just for guests' comments.

Beware of monkeys which raid your kitchen even if you are sitting right there.

The burgers at the bar remain amazing. The view remains amazing. However there's a bit of a foul stinky water smell in the bar area that makes it tough to spend a lot of time there - combined with the incessant smoking.

There is a spot in the driveway where cars/trucks have left deep divets in the gravel - a shovel could easily make this better, we bottomed out our car a few times.

My fiance' booked a massage for me, but when I went on the day we booked, the masseuse said she had been waiting for him to confirm with her and hadnt heard from him so assumed it wasn't on. He says he told her it was confirmed unless he came back to say otherwise. but the morning of the massage, the other masseuse offered to do my massage that day, even though it was her day off, and I really appreciated that.

Siabuswe, who works at reception, is really great and was very responsive with everything we asked him about.

Mama Pat did a great job cleaning for us. However it wasn't clear to us whether the room was serviced or whether we had to pay for her services when she cleaned.

Beware that around New Years, Port St Johns is fullllll of locals and tourists from around the Eastern Cape who come to party on 2nd beach. We timed our arrival for the 2nd of Jan but still there was a lot of partying along 2nd beach and people leaving trash everywhere.

Amapondo's remains one of our favorite spots - but perhaps we are biased, it is where we met 5 years ago. =) we still love that you can get fresh mussels and oysters from locals on 2nd beach - they made our trip by hustling to get us fresh seafood.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank jpgeorge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 1, 2013
Wow, what a great place to meet the love of your life. Thanks for the honest review and great points raised. I am sorry that you didn't enjoy the drumming and loud music. I must admit, it got on top of me too at times. But considering that Amapondo is generally such a tranquil place throughout the year, with only occasional loud parties going on, I got used to the thumping bar over the high season weeks. With no neighbours to complain, if the bar is heaving, its difficult to turn people away. Saying that, we are looking at sound proofing the bar to stop the sound travelling up the hill. Also, since you arrived just after the madness of New Year, we did have quite a big change over of guests, and our staff were keen to let their hair down. The energy at Amapondo changes so fast depending on the crowd that are here at the time.

We have security throughout the year, and two guys are on every night during the high season, but we hardly have need to them, and you right not to have felt concern.

I am glad you enjoyed the Crystal Cottage. We have three more private en suite cottages - Shakti, Shiva, and Turtle Cove. And we are planning to build more. Its these luxurious en suite self-catering cottages that set us apart from other backpackers and allow us to cater to a higher end market too. Sorry you waited to check in. 2nd January meant a lot of people checked out late, and a hell of a lot of rooms to clean. Still, you should not have had to wait, and my apologies for that. As for the floor being dirty, I don't know what happened there. The Crystal Cottage can get dusty due to its unusual design. I have already met with all the cleaners as they were overwhelmed this last season. Next year we will have more cleaners on shift. The good news is, we have fixed and replaced the chairs on that balcony already.

I am glad that you felt our staff reacted quickly when you asked. I seem to remember that it might have even been me who helped fix your sliding door when it needed adjusting. It wasnt running true along its rail. My wife and I are relatively new here, and together with our strong staff team, we are diligently working on jazzing up Amapondo. We take our guests' comments very serious and all of your honesty is extremely helpful to the future of this wonderful place.

Monkeys! Yeah, beware -they may be fun to watch, but the little pests do tend to steal from rooms if windows or doors are left open. They arent really a problem at the backpackers itself, but more to the cottages which are set away from all the people.

Glad you like the burgers. I personally love the Lentil burger and the Halloumi burger. We have spiced up our menu recently based on our own culinary training and taste, and we get a lot of great comments. We even plan to offer cooking lessons soon. Foul water smell? I am not sure what that could have been. There had been a lot of rain and puddles of water below the bar area down the bank were lying stagnant. I'll look into the drainage. Incessant smoking is a problem we are aware of, but with our open bar, its difficult to prevent. However we have plans to alter the layout of the bar and even create a smoking area in the coming months.

As to the driveway, this has been an ongoing challenge at Amapondo and with the steep driveway and the clay mud, it easily gets out of control. Before the high season we actually bought more than 10 tons of stone and compacted it in with a compacting machine. The solution is not a shovel but a cement track - something else we are aiming towards.

Glad you got your massage and sorry for the wait. We were really fortunate to have a professional masseuse here however and believe me, she was inundated with requests so she really was busy throughout the season.

I am glad you enjoyed our reception staff, all of whom are excellent, very professional and oh so helpful. Mama Pat, who cleaned your room, is great. And no, you dont need to pay her - that is our job.

A friendly note to anyone who comes to Port St Johns during the December season: it gets really busy here for a short burst especially over Christmas and New Year. There are tremendous amount of locals who come for their summer break. It gets a bit crazy, but that's also part of the mad charm that brings people to experience the Wild Coast.

Once again, thanks for your informative review and I am glad you enjoyed your time with us. Despite the few niggley bits, considering you have been a few times, I think you have a touch of Pondo Fever.
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Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 9, 2013

Firstly, Port St. Johns. If you're looking for the most beautiful landscape in South Africa then look no further. Port St. Johns is picturesque with its rolling hills, thick vegetation and spectacular views of the Mzimvubu river winding itself into the Indian Ocean. Not to mention the hustling town, ever present wildlife and genuinely friendly locals.

Amapondo. Nestled afoot the hills with nothing but beauty surrounding it, makes for a perfect setting - a stones throw from the beach. Amapondo is a place of tranquility with regular activities provided such as hikes, meditation sessions, sundowners, et cetera. Let the sun set and tranquility may just turn into debauchery with a DJ here and vodka shot there. They have it all.

A backpackers can only be as good as the staff running it and herein lies the secret. The ever helpful staff create the atmosphere that will leave you with Pondo fever and the desire to return.

Great filter coffee, fresh fruit smoothies and an inspired kitchen put the cherry on top.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Brett S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, January 15, 2013
I didn't realize you had your honeymoon here at Amapondo! Wow, what a great place to share this experience. If anyone else would like to have their honeymoon here, we would love to book you into one of our self-contained Cottages up on the hill. Turtle Cove is a double story cottage that sleeps four, and boasts an awesome view, has a bath tub that extends out into the forest, and a beautiful balcony with braai (BBQ) facilities. Crystal Cottage also sleeps four, and is uniquely shaped like a Crystal, being hexagonal in design, with a huge glass front sliding doors that open it right up into nature. And both Shakti and Shiva, two identical cottages, are ideal for couples, both lovely and convenient in design. We would also love to host weddings. My wife and I got married on the beach and had such a wonderful experience. We can even incorporate some of the local traditional Pondo and Xhosa culture, music and tradition.

I am glad you enjoyed our activities. In addition to The Gap, the Blowhole, Bululo waterfall, and 3rd Beach, we also offer hikes to Silaka Nature Reserve, up to Mthumbane Village for a Traditional Pondo meal with a local family, treks up to to the top of Mount Sullivan , mountain biking trips, horse trails, canoe trips down the Ntafufu River, and Sundowners up to Mount Thesiger. And for the more adventurous, we also offer 2 to 4 day trips to Magwa Falls, Angel Falls, and Waterfall Bluff where you can stay in a local village and enjoy the serenity and magic of the real WILD AFRICA.

Hope to see you here again soon.
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1 review
Reviewed January 8, 2013

It was my second time visiting Amapondo after spending honeymoon there in 2011. My first visit was amazing and I knew it would be difficult to top it the second time round. Amapondo did not disappoint one bit. There are too many activities to fit into a one week visit, which makes it a worth while for going a second time or just stay longer. Highlights are The Gap and Blow-holes, The waterfalls, 3rd Beach and The wild-coast hiking trail to Coffee bay.

We made a lot of friends and memories.

I would recommend Amopondo to ANYONE. Any age, background, financial status etc.

The Transkei and Amapondo just takes you back to the simple things in life. Exactly what you need when on holiday.

Amapondo will definitely see me again and again and again

  • Stayed December 2012
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank JohnnyLak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amapondo, Owner at Amapondo Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, January 15, 2013
Thanks for the wonderful review. Its great to hear all the positive things you said about Port St Johns, which is such an interesting little town. Port St. Johns boasts some of the most beautiful natural scenary in the country, and I just love the entrance road that lies along the Great Mzimvubu River that flows through the spectacular gorge known as the "Gates of St Johns" into the River Mouth. These "Gates of Port St Johns" are formed by two impressively high sandstone mountain peaks that lie on either side of the beautiful Mzimvubu River. Did you know that as Leonardo DiCaprio lay dying in the last scene of the film Blood Diamond, he wasn't actually in Sierra Leone. He was actually lying on a rock on top of Mount Thesiger, the Sandstone peak on the right hand side of the river as you drive in. At Amapondo we offer Sundowner trips up to the old landing strip on top of the mountain where we love to take photos of our guests lying on that very same rock!

Port St Johns has a fascinating history too. It was established in the 1880s by the British after negotiations with local Pondo chiefs for the rights to use the river banks and the surrounding area. The river mouth was used as a port for many years until the 1940's when silt deposits built up causing the river to become too shallow for vessels.

Port St. Johns is known as the centre of tourism on the Wild Coast, and is fondly called the "Jewel of the Wildcoast". We love to show off all this beautiful nature, the lovely beaches, and all the interesting wildlife. Just this morning I had monkeys playing all around my bedroom.

Life at Amapondo is certainly an adventure, and after this busy season I am extremely proud of all our wonderful staff that made everyone so comfortable, cooked such yummy food, made delicious coffees, smoothies and milkshakes, arranged such good activities, entertained and interacted with our guests.

We hope to see you again not too distant in the future.
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Additional Information about Amapondo Backpackers Lodge

Property: Amapondo Backpackers Lodge
Address: Second Beach Road | Wildcoast, Port St Johns 5120, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Port St Johns
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Port St Johns
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Amapondo Backpackers Lodge 2*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Amapondo is Ama-azing. Amapondo is nestled on a hill on the verge of a tropical rain forest and only 2 minutes walk from a beautiful beach. Head down to sunbathe or plunge in the clear warm waters of the deep rock pools nearby. The African-themed rooms and deluxe private self-catering cottages all have their own unique design and style. The quirkily designed cottages have incredible views, are really comfortable and come at a price that you'll find hard to match. Turtle Cove has one of the best views on the Wild Coast from its upstairs bubble bath, whilst Crystal House, with its glass frontage, offers classic panoramic ocean views. Whether you want a quiet, relaxing break in your own piece of paradise, a base from which you can explore the natural beauty of the area, an adventure on one of their many tours, close interactions with locals, genuine cultural experiences, yoga lessons, a deep tissue massage, or a thumping all-out party at their buzzy bar, you'll find it at Amapondo. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Amapondo Hotel Port St Johns

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