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No More Aids In Africa!

That's right! At long last, Aids has left Africa! After 8 trying months on the dark continent, I rreturn once more to the wonders of the developed world, and I come bearing stories. While I rwas near the point of punching every African that looked at me by the end of my time there, I rdid have an amazing experience. I got to genuinely experience different lifestyles and see rthe world through a drastically different paradigm. I got to see a bit of South Africa, Namibia, rZambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ugana, and Kenya and while I definitely feel that I barely rscratched the surface, I feel like I've gotten enough of the African experience to last me for a rlong time. Anyway, just for shits, and so I have a thread to plug my blog in r(, I've ranked the hostels/backpackers/shitholes that I had the rpleasure of staying in during these fascinating 8 months. For a more detailed and rinteresting account of things I've seen, people I've met, and rants I've ranted, visit my travel rblog (oh you need the URL? ok sure it's List is best shit from 2012 rso far. Enjoy! (or don't)
18Loma Prieta

The Cardboard Box, Windhoek, Namibia ---- The Cardboard Box is really a fitting name for this shithole.
It's located in Namibia's capital city, Windhoek, and it is a terrible abomination. We luckily only had to stay
there one night, but even that came close to being too much. The bathrooms were fucking disgusting, and
flooded every time someone took a shower. The kitchen stank and was an absolute mess almost to the
point of being unusable (they had no cutting knives either; I had to cut my vegetables with a butter knife).
There were two coded security gates, which is comforting, but whenever we returned to the hostel after
being out, they weren't locked or even closed and we were able to walk right in as the on-site security
guard didn't even look up from his newspaper. But the worst part was the rooms. They had no lockers,
and so we feared our stuff would be stolen, and there was absolutely NO floor space because they shoved
in way more beds than was logical for the sizes of the rooms. The only positive about this place was that it
had free wifi, so instead of spending time in our disgusting piece of shit dorm, I derped around on sputnik
in the slightly more tolerable reception area. What makes my opinion of this place suffer even greater is
that before checking in here, we tried another hostel in town, but it was full. While we waited for a cab to
take us to The Cardboard Box, I looked around this other hostel and found it clean, secure, and full of
great people. Then we rolled up to The Cardboard Box and my heart sank. Fuck that place. It rivals
Jaggermister's in Munich as the worst place I have ever stayed.
Score: 1.5/10

New Bondeni Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania ---- As truly awful as the city that it is located in, the New
Bondeni Hotel and Dar es Salaam are fucking terrible. Their water smelled of sulphur, the restaurant in the
lobby had a terrible menu and barely passable food (not to mention the disgusting complimentary
breakfast, but hey at least it was free?), and their TVs had 3 working channels, one of which played porn
non-stop (which I think gives you an idea of the sort of people that stayed there). It was also patronized
mainly by locals, which is fine in itself, but being the only white people staying there (maybe ever) drew
lots of uncomfortable stares from the other guests. The city of Dar is an absolute pile of shit, and they
don't have hostels at all really, so this was what we were stuck with. If not for the fact that the manager,
an Indian guy named Abdul, went out of his way to make our stay more enjoyable, this place would get a
1/10, no doubt about it. But, Abdul really made us feel more comfortable, secure, and entertained, so I'll
give it a higher score. He finished working there a couple of months ago though and has moved to
London for school, so I have no hope for the hotel anymore.
Score: 3.5/10
Soul, Earth, Sun

Backpackers Hostel, Kampala, Uganda ---- This place had a good vibe to it and great food available from
the bar, but it was overpriced and some of the staff members freaked me the fuck out with their cracked
out demeanour. Also, the bathrooms were below average in terms of cleanliness and usability, and the
rooms were kind of gross, dimly lit, and frankly, a little bit depressing. Also, I overheard this one girl
saying to a staff member that something had been stolen from her room, and it was a very secure
complex so it had to have been a staff member. Definitely a sketchy place: not terrible, but not great.
Score: 5/10

Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, Kigali, Rwanda ---- This hostel was safe and located in a nice
neighbourhood of Kigali, but the mattresses were painfully thin and I rarely got a good sleep here. They
also lose points for drawing backpackers in with their promise of free breakfast, but failing to deliver in
full. If you say the breakfast goes until 10, don't tell me that there are no eggs left when I want them at
9:30 and leave me with toast and jam. They had hot water (a pretty hard thing to find in Eastern Africa)
but only during certain hours of the day, and because of this, everyone tries to shower at once which
resulted in pathetic water pressure.
Score: 5.5/10
Five Years With The Sun

Nile River Explorers Campsite, near Jinja, Uganda ---- This place is located on the banks of the Nile River,
overlooking what used to be the magnificent Bujigali Falls. Since the construction of the Bujagali dam, it
now overlooks a massive pool of slow moving water, but it's still gorgeous and the views at sunset can't be
beaten. I met some really great people here and combined with the party atmosphere of the hostel, I
had a great time. Some of the people I met there have become close friends and I look back at my time
there fondly. It's a sketchy 25 minute ride on the back of a motorcycle taxi (boda boda) to get there, and
the roads are dangerously bad, but it's worth it for the beautiful scenery. This place would score way
higher, but on my last night staying there, I returned to my dorm at about midnight, drunk, to find that
someone had tossed the contents of my backpack across the room trying to find something to steal.
Luckily for me, they didn't, but I later found out that it was a staff member, who has since been fired and
arrested. Huge marks off for the sketchiness though, which was present even before this event.
Score: 5.5/10

The Beach Lodge, Muizenberg, South Africa ---- Located in Muizenberg north of Cape Town, this place was
strange. I had been volunteering very close to there but when my stint ended and I needed somewhere to
stay for a couple days while I decided what my next move would be, I chose this place. It was a pretty bad
decision really because a couple of weeks earlier, I came in from surfing to the Surf Shack (where I had
been volunteering and located directly under this hostel) there was an ambulance and police cars out front,
as a staff member of The Beach Lodge had had her throat slit by a Congolese man. She very nearly died
in the hospital but survived in the end. The lack of security was a bit worrying during our stay there, but
nobody got knifed so it was all good. It was an alright place, nothing special or exceedingly terrible to
Score: 6/10

Marahubi Beach Lodge, near Stone Town, Tanzania ---- This was our stomping grounds on the island of
Zanzibar, in Tanzania. It was a beautiful piece of property located on a nice beach with a good swimming
pool as well. The staff was a bit rude and shifty, and the restaurant was decent at best, but it was an
acceptable place to rest our heads at night. I don't have much to say about this place really, it was a
place to sleep and little more.
Score: 6/10
11The Saddest Landscape
After The Lights

Nile River Explorers Backpackers, Jinja, Uganda ---- The popular place for backpackers to stay in the town
of Jinja, Uganda. It was located on the outskirts of the very unpleasant town, and was run by a great staff,
who were a mix of locals and Brits. This was the first hostel that I stayed at after volunteering in Nairobi for
3 months, and I was relieved that it was decent, because it took me a while to re-adjust to the ackpacking
lifestyle. When I thought my bank account had been hacked, the staff were helpful and it was a nice place
to relax and attempt to forget that I was in the middle of Africa with no funds (I sorted it out though, don't
fret). It was a good place to hang out, but I had much more fun at the NRE Campsite about 7km out
of town, even if someone went through my bag in an attempt to find something valuable to steal at the
Score: 6/10
10Sigur Ros

Diani Beach Lodge, near Mombassa, Kenya ---- A group of fellow volunteers and I did a weekend trip to
Mombassa, on the coast of Kenya. We stayed on Diani Beach and got a good sized room at this little
place. Considering how cheap it was, this place was not bad. The fridge barely worked, and
the showers just redirected ocean water, but it was safe and clean, two very hard things to come by when
hunting for accommodation anywhere in Kenya.
Score: 6.5/10
9Silversun Pickups
Neck of the Woods

Bob's Bunk House, Johannesburg, South Africa ---- This place is run by a lovely old South-African couple in
the area of Evandale, near the airport in Johannesburg (one of the most dangerous cities in the world).
The hostel was attached to their house and had a cute charm to it. They also had a pool, though we
unfortunately couldn't use it because of shitty weather, and a very well kept kitchen that allowed us to save
some money on food. We were the only people staying there for our two nights in Johannesburg,
but it was cozy and safe and made us forget that we were in one of the most notoriously dangerous cities
in the world.
Score: 7.5/10
Give You The Ghost

The Stumble Inn, Stellenbosch, South Africa ---- A cleverly titled little place in Stellenbosch, about an hours
drive from Cape Town in South Africa. A bunch of volunteers and I did a weekend trip from Cape Town to
the wine region to pretend that we knew anything about fine wines and tear it up, and though we only
stayed at this place for one night, it was great. It had a good atmosphere and comfortable, but hot,
rooms. Though I hardly think I can blame the hostel for the intense heat of the area.
Score: 7.5/10
7John Talabot

Long Street Backpackers, Cape Town, South Africa ---- This great little hostel was located right in the
middle of all the action on the always bumping Long Street in Cape Town, but it used its limited space and
unfortunate proximity to the craziness surprisingly well. It had a fantastic wifi network which I absolutely
raped the shit out of by downloading hundreds of albums. (I had been without wifi for a loooong time, and
had a pretty sizable list of music to check out). Memories of sitting in the hostel's courtyard, smoking the
weed that I just sketchily bought on Long Street in complete safety, and listening to Burial's "Kindred" EP
and Red Nightfall's self-titled LP flood my brain whenever I think back to this place. The only negative I
can say about this place is that on our last night there, the stinky German couple that we were sharing a
dorm with got a little too ambitious in their drunkenness, and attempted to have discreet sex with
my sister and me in the room. My sister is a bit of a firecracker and she went fucking nuts. It was
awkward after that, but we left soon after. They were gross.
Score: 7.5/10
6John K. Samson

Cat and Moose Backpackers, Cape Town, South Africa ---- This hostel is located at the end of Long Street
in Cape Town. Its location was perfect really because Long Street is a non-stop party. So it was nice to be
close to this, but at the same time we were a good distance away from the noise and craziness that
sometimes lasts all night. It also had a refreshing plunge pool, priceless in stuffy 40 degree weather
(Celsius obviously). The outrageous prices for wifi usage were a bit insulting, but it was ok, I
resisted the urge to "like" Mezzanine Crew posts for a couple days. Another (lucky) plus was that we were
five people at that time, and they had five bed dorms. So what would usually be an awkward forced social
interaction with random, possibly stinky backpackers, turned into our own perfectly sized private room that
we could lock whenever we pleased.
Score: 8/10

Jollyboys Backpackers, Livingstone, Zambia ---- A wonderful place to drop anchor in the town of
Livingstone, Zambia, which has little else to offer travellers other than the absolutely magnificent Victoria
Falls. It had a swimming pool, a decent menu for food, lots of comfy hang-out areas, and was very safe
(which is a big plus in Zambia), and a kitchen that was a little bit gross, but overall acceptable. They also
offered a free shuttle to Victoria Falls every day, which was very convenient. I spent quite a lot of time at
this hostel, waiting for a flight that was days away, but I didn't mind too much because it was a great place
to hang out. They charged to use their wifi network though, which was frustrating because the connection
was slow and I actually had important things to take care of at that point in my trip (instead of making
lists about being drunk on sputnik, which is what I usually do when I get internet access while
backpacking). Also, it was fucking hot in Livingstone, and the AC unit in our room kept dying on us, but
when it was working it was icy cold and marvellous. But besides those two minor complaints, it was a great
Score: 8/10

Upper Hill Campsite and Backpackers, Nairobi, Kenya ---- Considering how much I hated Nairobi during my
first three months there, my return to the city went surprisingly well. We stayed in a semi-permanent tent
in this place and it was delightful. Nairobi is another notoriously dangerous city, but this place was very
secure and far enough out of the city centre that I didn't have to worry about getting bombed by Somalian
terrorists (I'm actually serious, that happened during my stay in Kenya several times). The staff was great,
and the property was beautiful. My only gripe with this place is that the mattresses were so thin that I
could feel the framework of the bed. It was my last two nights in Africa though and I hardly cared: the
comfort of the first-world was within reach.
Score: 8.5/10
3Hop Along
Get Disowned

Desert Sky Backpackers, Swakopmund, Namibia ---- This was our base in Swakopmund, on the coast of
Namibia. It was run by a delightful little German lady and was one of the best backpackers I have stayed
in. The self-catering kitchen was clean and very usable (both of these things are usually not used to
describe kitchens in hostels), and so we saved a lot of money on food by buying groceries and making it
ourselves for a change. The rooms were comfy, the bathrooms were clean, and while the vibe was
a bit lacking, there were some interesting people to talk to.
Score: 8.5/10

Island Vibe, Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa ---- A party hostel if I've ever seen one, and luckily for me, I was in
party mode. Island Vibe is in the town of Jeffery's Bay in South Africa, which is home to what has been
called a top 3 surf spot in the world: Supertubes. I didn't tackle the spot because a. it was low-season and
the wave wasn't firing and b. because I'm way too amateur to tackle eight-foot barrels crashing into inches
of water, but we spent a good amount of time surfing on less scary, though still very intimidating, beach
breaks near our hostel. The place was full of like-minded surfers and had a great vibe. We spent the days
alternating intense surfing sessions with nearly as intense sessions on the hostel's ping-pong table, and
the nights getting drunk with an international mix of hippies, surf-bums, and backpackers. It was a high-
capacity hostel, which generally means dirty, but they did a good job of keeping it clean. Also,
considering how dangerous this area is considered, it was very safe. A great place, and definitely the place
to be if you ever find yourself in J-Bay. The only real negative was their self-catering kitchen's stove, q
whose elements took ages to heat up.
Score: 9/10
Celebration Rock

The Hairy Lemon, near Jinja, Uganda ---- It's almost not fair to include this place on this list. For one, it's
not really a hostel. Also, I love it so so so much, that nothing else even came close. The Hairy Lemon is
an island in the middle of the Nile River, located about 40km downstream from the source of the Nile at
Lake Victoria, near Jinja. It costs $25 a night to stay there, but this includes full board, and the food there
was always absolutely amazing. I intended on spending only two nights there, but when I met some of
the greatest people in the world and fell in love with the kayaking scene, I decided to stay there for over
two weeks. I ended up spending Christmas and New Year's Eve there and I can honestly say it
was my best Christmas ever. All day I did nothing but relax, smoke weed (shitty Ugandan bush weed, but
chronic nonetheless), go swimming in the warm Nile River, play frisbee gold, and wait for the kayakers to
get back from playing on this wave called Nile Special (these guys travelled from all over the world for this
one wave, pretty cool actually) so we could get disgustingly drunk. I got very close with a few of the
kayakers there and with the staff as well. There was no electricity, hot water, or internet, but I
did not care one bit. When we got too drunk and left our valuables scattered randomly around the
dormitory, the cleaners always placed them neatly on our pillows instead of stealing them; it was just that
kind of place. I had two of the most amazing weeks of my life doing essentially nothing on that island. It's
quite possibly my favourite place in the world, and is definitely not to be missed if you ever find yourselves
in Uganda.
Score: 10/10
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