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Africa's Zoo Lodge Backpackers Reviews

233A Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, South Africa

Reviews & Ratings Explained


42 Total Reviews
  • 40%Value For Money
  • 40%Security
  • 20%Location
  • 60%Staff
  • 20%Atmosphere
  • 40%Cleanliness
  • 40%Facilities

The rating percentage is calculated from customers who booked within the last 12 months.

All ratings and reviews are based on the feedback and opinions of the customers who submitted them and do not express the opinions of Hostelworld.com. This way, you get an up-to-the-minute opinion of just how good a hostel really is.
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This place was dirty and creepy. Lots of weird people around. The whole place was messy and untidy as if people had moved out of their private house and left all their junk behind. The guy in charge tried har but the place was not good.

  • 3rd Jan 2016
  • Novice Nomad
  • Anonymous
  • Denmark
  • Couple, 41+
  • (1 review)

The reviews below do not count toward the property's recent rating.
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The manager was friendly, the place has plenty of potential however I felt a loner there and also quite depressed.


Not really a hostel,more like a "pension", long term local.


The dorm was better than the double room! This was a first for me. I men working there we're lovely but it was a bit more like a shared house than a dorm. They made me feel at home and I enjoyed the garden. It would be nicer if they got a code for the front door. It was a bit unsettling to wait on the busy street for some one open the gate.


Really good people!!

  • 4th Aug 2012
  • Novice Nomad
  • Anonymous
  • Brazil
  • Male, 18-24
  • (1 review)


Derek, the current hostel manager was absolutely horrendous. He was completely drunk most of the time I was there, which was 4 days total. I stayed 3 nights, then went to the Kruger. When I came back the mess in the dorm I was staying in was still there. And, the manager said that only reservations made through hostel world were at R90, but since I was coming back without a hostel world account, I had to pay a higher R100 rate. Also, he wouldn't honor the 10% discount I made online.


No knowledge of local buses, they didn't know that I'd booked when I turned up, little interest in helping organise tours etc, cold rooms, no wifi; internet access; payphone; toilet paper; keys for rooms or other guests - only stayed one night, then left the deposit and just cleared off, not the best hostel I've been to . . .


Nice place, relaxed and laidback. A bit untidy in the kitchen but it got better with time. None of the Jburg backpackers are located in the city centre, however there's a large shopping mall in walking distance.


The hostel has a wondeful backyard, but is constantly dirty and the bedrooms are too crowded.

Owner Comment (Hide)
To summarise your stay. Your first portion of the group arrived at 16h10 and second portion arrived about 15 minutes later. You had booked 7 dorms in crocodile dorm (Shared bathroom), Lion Room (shared bathroom) and Elephant en suite. When the group was shown the lodge, they unanimously agreed that they all wanted to change and stay in the top two dorms being Buffalo Dorm (2 x bathrooms en suite) and Meerkat dorm so that the group could be together. The couple still stayed in Elephant room (En-suite bathroom.) As the group had now changed their rooms and the top section had not been used for 3 to 4 days, Derek, the lodge manager had the rooms serviced for your group (The bedrooms and bathrooms were cleaned, floors swept and moped and all beds rechecked. All toilet paper and spare rolls were checked and rechecked by Derek as is the norm at the lodge.) while the group leaders (Only members of group able to speak English fluently.) booked in and rest of your group waited in the lounge. Your entire group then showered and refreshed themselves and at about 17h30 you all went to the mall. You returned at about 19h40 and had a small birthday celebration at the pool area. Your entire group all had an early night and left the Lodge the following morning to go on tour before 07h00. All our rooms, dorms and bathrooms, kitchen and garden are cleaned daily and we pride ourselves on the upkeep and cleanliness at the lodge. Your group only stayed at the lodge from 16h30 to 06h30 the next morning. While you waited the rooms were cleaned in front of your own eyes and the entire group gave Derek and Misha compliments about the lodge so you can imagine the shock the cleaning staff got when this baseless review/complaint of yours was shown to them. Rooms are serviced daily and all used bedding etc. is changed and washed. The cleaning staff only arrive at 07h00 in the morning and clean the lodge all day until 17h00. When this review was shown to Mike Dubazane, Lizzy Nkosi and Misha Malepo (The cleaning staff and Mike being the guy who actually cleaned Buffalo and Meerkat dorms for your group the day you arrived.) they where shocked. You say in your review, "but is constantly dirty" How can you make a statement like this when, firstly you have only actually been at the lodge for a total of thirteen hours, eight of which the group slept and 2 and a half hours spent at the mall. This leaves you with less than three hours in which you showered, packed your bags and had a small party for your friend's birthday and had time to see that the lodge was constantly dirty. Again as all the signs in all the bathrooms/kitchen/rooms state that you are responsible to clean up after yourself and leave the room the way you found it. If you dirty the bathroom at night and leave before the rooms are serviced in the morning, it is your own responsibility to clean up after yourself and to leave the bathroom the way you found it. If members of your own group leave the bathroom dirty after using it, you should ask them to clean up after themselves. The staff also commented on the state that you guys left the room in, which is another reason we cannot believe that you have made this comment. All the cleaning staff want to know from you, which room or part of the lodge was dirty. They all reject your comment with contempt and as being totally untrue and baseless. Again your rating gives the lodge a 3 for fun. On Wednesday when you arrived back from the mall the other guests were swimming and having a braai and later most listened to music, played pool and darts in the bar area 'til late, all of which the group had been invited to join in with. However most of the group spoke no english and your group was tired after the flight and after a brief birthday celebration at the pool area went to bed and were sleeping by 21h00 as your group had to get up early the next morning to depart on your Safari. Added to this, as often happens with larger groups, they stay together and tend not to mix with locals as they stick together in the group. Zoo Lodge is known as a party lodge. How do you get to a rating of 3 for fun? You also rate the staff at the lodge at a 3. Derek went out of his way to accommodate your booking change and rearranged your entire group booking. The group was assisted with all their needs and requests so again where does this rating come from and based on what do you make this rating? Your also rate the location at a 3. The northern suburbs are regarded as the best in Johannesburg with Rosebank / Parktown being amongst the top prime areas. Your group where dropped off and picked up at the lodge with no problem. How can you make this type of assumption when you obviously know nothing about Johannesburg and surrounds? Your comment that the lodge rooms are too crowded. You had a 8 bed dorm and a 10 bed dorm to use for 9 people and you chose to stay in these rooms. This is standard to all backpack accommodation across South Africa. You comment as if you were a guest at a 6 start hotel paying thousands, but seem to forget that in fact you stayed at a backpackers and only paid R90.00 per night. For the reasons above, the cleaning staff and management request that you retract your statement. Mike, the cleaner also asks for an apology as he insists that he had just cleaned the rooms and that the rooms and bathrooms were spotlessly clean.


It's a nice backpack with security, not so far away from center shop and gardens. Special thanks to Derek for his help during our travel around Johannesburg.

  • 14th Nov 2011
  • Novice Nomad
  • Anonymous
  • France
  • Male, 18-24
  • (1 review)


Enjoyed my stay and guys were very helpfull, easy going.


We received a warm welcome, and everything was made by the staff to arrange visits and comfort.


I fell in love with this lodge. The locations great location, making it easy to get around. Derek was a absolutely fabulous host. Best BBQ (braai) see Derek I remembered. I highly recommend this lodge.


When we arrived the manager tried to make us pay nearly double and wouldn't give a clear reason why in the end he backed down. He also tried this with other guests who unknowinly paid the inflated rate. He also made us feel guilty for wanting to go out in the evenings rather than buy his beers and made up stories that local bars were closed. Zoo Lodge is a average backpackers but the manager made it unelcoming and gave it bad atmosphere. The owner however was very welcoming when he popped in.


The beds looked like several previous occupants had slept in them and they had not been changed and the place was generally a mess. We asked for a wake up call. Hopefully, we didn't slept very well so we were able to leave on time cause at the time we were leaving the manager was still sleaping (very poor managing)... very disappointing.


Nice hostel with great people. felt very much at home. Loved the braai's (BBQ'S) and chilling by the pool. people i met were awesome. had a fantastic time and hope to be back end of the year for some more fun. Thanks for everything. Really enjoyed staying there. xx


manager tried to charge us for the complete fee of 3 days booked + the cancellation fee for wanting to only stay 1 night. very intimidating man and made us feel very uncomfortable. we left without telling him so he wouldn't force money out of us that we shouldn't pay. Would never recommend this place.


The hot water was not sufficient for the shower of every guest. Staff charged different prices in the bar for different guests. Also, management tried to create fees related to the change in the conditions of the reservation (whether by lack of dorms rented in the conditions offered in Hostelworld or by change of nights).


Stuff is helpful.Room is clean. I enjoyed staying there.Thank you!!


The first couple of days I was in the wrong room. I paid upfront for 14 days in a room with a bathroom and shower and less beds. I turned up a few days after my booking began but my bed was taken. The Manager seemed to be doing a Faulty Towers Basel impression (British sitcom with a clueless Manager) but once I spoke with the owner and changed rooms things became much better. The pool table needs leveling or a book under the legs! Oh and lovely cats! Best of luck in the future.

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