Livingstone: Jollyboys Backpackers
Cost: Upwards of 40 bucks for the cabins, which is big cash for Africa, but more affordable if you’re tenting and/or sleeping on the couches and hiding in piles of cushions – although it’s worth noting that their policy of showing a receipt for all the nights you’ve stayed there when you check out is surprisingly strictly enforced.
Get There: Heaps of buses leave Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, for Livingstone every day
Right in the middle of Livingstone, the tourist town right near Victoria Falls, Jollyboys is that one backpackers that you’ll hear mentioned everywhere you go, and to an extent it deserves its reputation. Tenting space is pretty limited, but there are a couple of dorms and quite a few (pricy) bungalow kinda things too. The good thing about the place is that everyone else in Livingstone/Africa ends up here too, so it’s great for meetin’ and minglin’, and it has pretty much everything a homeless backpacker needs – decent bathrooms, wifi and a communal kitchen to make your stale peanut butter sandwiches in when you can’t afford the bar food. There’s a decent pool and bar, a pillow lounge for reading/sleeping off hangovers from the Mexican bar down the road, and a really cool open-air alcove upstairs which – despite the cold and the suspicious stains on the cushions – runs on a pretty much constant copulation rotation. You stay classy, Zambia.
If you catch the owner on a good day they can also organise pretty much anything else cool that goes on in the area for you, including daily transport to the falls, getting cosy with lions, daytrips into Botswana and the legendary Zambezi booze cruises.
Watch out for: The staff are notoriously cranky, and are not above leaving threatening notes inside your tent should you steal the cushions off their couches to fashion a bed; they take that shit seriously. Also the hostel’s main area is a well-established black hole, where anything from credit cards to sunglasses to dirty socks are likely to disappear if unattended.