A tranquil and scenic spot where chickens scratch on the old railway line and dogs snooze on the stoep while legendary pancakes are served to guests and visitors who return time and again. 

Where is it? 
Buffalo Bay Road, en-route to Buffelsbaai and Goukamma Nature Reserve in the Garden Route, Western Cape

Why stay there? 
Not many people are aware of the road that leads to Buffelsbaai and the Goukamma Nature Reserve between Sedgefield and Knysna, but once you discover it, you’ll never want to leave! Elalani is the perfect tranquil and friendly spot to stay while exploring the area. It’s also pet-friendly and their pancakes are legendary!  

How much does it cost? 
Camping from R150 per tent, dorm rooms from R150 per person per night, double room from R550 per night for the room and the family unit from R1 800 per night (up to 6 guests) or R2 500 per night (7-12 guests). Breakfast is included with all accommodation options. There’s also a restaurant serving very reasonably priced meals, starting at R25.  

Can I take my dog? 
Yes! This is one of the few backpackers where your dog is also welcome. However, check beforehand as they do have three dogs of their own.  

Contact details 
Telephone 044 383 0 005 / 076 866 0886,  www.elalini.co.za

Elalini Backpackers was one of the lucky ones in the recent Knysna fires, but the fire-ravaged mountains and trees that surround them are a reminder of how severe the fires were.  Whilst Elalini escaped the ravages of the flames, they are only too aware of how many other people and creatures have been affected and in light of this, they have decided that none of the fruit from their fruit trees is to be harvested this year. Instead it is being left for the birds to enjoy as their food sources have been severely affected by the fires. That’s typical of the owner and staff of this establishment – kind and thoughtful to everything and everyone who crosses their path.

Elalini Backpackers itself is in a charming setting, right by the old  railway track with the buildings being the original Goukamma Station and railway staff homes. Whilst the train doesn’t run through here anymore (although, there are rumours that it may be resurrected), the railroad is still there and  you are very likely to find their chickens on the tracks instead! They also have a lovely old railway cart that you can sit on to enjoy a snack or glass of wine while watching the horses graze in the fields across the road.

Accommodation is in five houses (set in a circle) and varies from dorm rooms to double rooms to family rooms. Two of the houses have dorm rooms with a lounge, dining room, shared bathroom and a braai area. Two of the other houses have double rooms or family rooms (double bed with a bunk bed), also with a lounge and shared bathroom. The fifth house has three bedrooms, each with a double bed and is generally let out as a unit, sleeping up to twelve people (bunk beds can be added to the rooms). As with the others, there is a lounge and bathroom (with separate toilet), plus a small fridge, microwave kettle and basic crockery, along with tea and coffee. We stayed in this one and were extremely comfortable. They even went to the trouble of supplying us with a heater as is was a very cold night!

All the accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis, with dorm room occupants having the option of cereal and coffee or toast with jam and butter with a coffee. If you’ve opted for a double room or the family unit, you have a wider choice of breakfast options, including their breakfast pancake, a full breakfast, French toast or various omelette options.

Speaking of food, the backpackers has a restaurant (open to the public) very cleverly called “Flippin’ Knys” and their pancakes are famous throughout the Garden Route. I pancaked myself out while there and can heartily recommend the chicken mayonnaise pancake and the breakfast pancake (filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and cheese). My friends enjoyed their savoury mince pancake, the butternut & feta pancake and said the omelettes were superb! The menu includes sweet and savoury pancake options, as well as fish & chips, burgers, toasted sandwiches, slices of cake and various desserts (their cheesecake is heavenly). Plus the usual hot and cold beverages, along with milkshakes and soda floats. Their meals are incredibly affordable too, with pancakes averaging at R25 to R35. Add to all this a colourful and cosy restaurant with dogs lazing in the sun on the stoep, a trampoline for the kids and it’s no wonder you’ll find people enjoying a meal and a cuppa at any given time of the day!

The views over the railway tracks to the mountains and valley below are wonderful, but if you are looking for an even better view whilst lounging in a hammock, their cheerful entertainment deck is the perfect place to have a sundowner or a siesta. They regularly host braais and live bands here and I can imagine things can get very festive!

Elalini Backpackers was the final stop on our Cape Town to Addo Elephant National Park Roadtrip (read my post here) and was the perfect grand finale. The only pity was that we had to leave the next day!

We all decided that the next time we stayed at this scenic and tranquil spot, we would be there for a few days to simply relax and explore the immediate area of Goukamma Nature Reserve and Buffelsbaai, which in themselves have so much to offer and Elalini is just the right place from which to do so.

Inside information 
Elalini have applied for their liquor license, but in the meantime you are welcome to take your own drinks. When I was there it was freezing (literally – my car had to be jump-started on the morning of our departure) so my bottle of Rooiberg Muscadel went down very well as you can see from the photo below!

Published August 2017 | Own cost