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Staying at Bulungula Lodge Cultural Village in South Africa

Staying at Bulungula Lodge Cultural Village in South Africa

After having the most incredible stay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with our hosts at our AirBnB and having the opportunity to do a horse back safari and self-drive safari through Addo Elephant Park, we packed up and left bright and early in the morning for a stay at an eco village in South Africa at Bulungula Lodge.


Bulungula Lodge An Eco Village in South Africa

Bulungula Lodge and Eco Village in South Africa

We had found the website for Bulungula Lodge after extensive research on places where we could really experience the culture of South Africa first hand. It is an eco village in South Africa where you can become immersed in the peoples culture, and not so much a spectator. If this is the kind of cultural experience you seek when traveling, then Bulungula Lodge is where you need to be.

Though it is situated on the coast with a beach that stretches as far as the eye can see, it is not to be treated as a place for tourists. It is almost expected of you that you will become involved in the day-to-day activities. That does not mean helping out around the village, but actually interacting with those within the village and seeing how they live their day-to-day lives.

It really is an amazing retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to enjoy a tranquil environment while understanding more of the people that make up this amazing country.


The Story

From our understanding, Bulungula Lodge was actually started by a foreigner who thought the coastal area seemed like the perfect place to bring in people who would want to spend time there and really experience the Xhosa culture. It had to be the right type of person though, not beach-going tourists, but the people that want that first-hand cultural experience.

He approached several chiefs in the area to pitch them his idea, but was turned down time and time again. However, the chief of Bulungula agreed which led to numerous employment opportunities for the people in his village. From the people manning the reception desk, chefs, and tour guides, Bulungula has seen a influx of money into their village since the inception of Bulungula. In the area, I was told that the surrounding villages had become envious of Bulungula’s present situation and now wish they would have went along with the plan, though they were understandably worried about it drawing the wrong crowd of people.

Fortunately for Bulungula, it has kept to its roots and has done a good job of doing so. The village has even created the Bulungula Incubator where they have begun a schooling system. All the more reason to go and check out this amazing place.

The Drive

We drove from Port Elizabeth to Bulungula Lodge, an eight hour drive that ends with a two hour drive over a bumpy unpaved road going no more than 15 kilometers per hour. Surprisingly, our GPS directed us through the unpaved roads fairly well, though the website for Bulungula Lodge warned us to be weary of the GPS and follow their landmark directions.

Driving for eight hours is not fun. Driving for six hours straight and then driving for two hours at 15 kilometres per hour on an unpaved road is even less fun. Driving this all while trying to make it there before it got dark so that we did not get lost on the unpaved roads just added a whole other dynamic to this adventure.

Nothing like a good adventure.

Day One

We had not got there in time for dinner and missed out on an opportunity to fill our stomachs with what we would later find out to be amazing Xhosa food. So, we popped around the other side of the bar, opened the refrigerator and treated ourselves to a couple of large beers while learning first hand the honor system in place at Bulungula Lodge. Write down what you take and you will be charged for it later.`

Our night was quiet after the long drive. The next morning, we signed up for fishing and a tour of the village. After speaking with another couple who was about to depart, one of which had suffered a broken foot while hiking the Garden Route before reaching Bulungula, we found that they were so amazed by the people that inhabited the land that was Bulungula Lodge.

Sign up for the Travel Couple Book Club! . Every other week we will be reading a book following our podcast theme: Travel, Relationships, and Business. Each book covers one of these themes. We will be doing a post and a live discussion with those signed up! . Sign Up Link in Bio! . Bulungula Lodge in South Africa was an amazing and eye opening cultural experience. This photo shows a little break in the day for these two boys as they enjoy the beach by the river. . . . . . #travel #travelcouple #digitalnomad #travelblog #travelphoto #instapassport #igtravel #ig_travel #sharetravelpics #worldtravelpics #worldplaces #travelworld #worldtravelpics #traveladdict #travelholic #travelstoke #traveldiary #travelguide #traveldiaries #southafrica #southafricathroughmyeyes #southafrica?? #Africa #africatravel #travelafrica #bulungula #nature #village #culture

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We got our first experience with a boy from the village that taught us how to fish the ocean from the jagged rocks with waves crashing up on them. Armed with a simple stick with a rigged up reel that was put together with some nails and a clever reeling system from what was available, we found the right spot and watched as this boy found the bait.

He came to us with clams he found on the rocks and began smashing them to use them for bait. He even offered me one to eat, raw. I waited for him to eat one to show me whether it was worth it to bite into the slimy shellfish. He did not even wince and it looked as though he enjoyed it, so I grabbed the next one and popped it into my mouth.

The taste was overwhelmingly salty. The texture was slimy and chewy, though it slid down my throat quite easily with a few crunches of sand. Natalie refused to try, so we used the remaining pieces as our bait.

The rocks were jagged and the waves were crashing over them making it hard to gain some footing close enough to cast the line far enough into the water. Though it seemed like the effort was futile, I was thinking how many fish would be at the shore with these waves pounding on the rocks, it was interesting to see how he could manouever the rocks and make a flawless cast out into the water.

After showing me how it was done, I took over and he went to set up Natalie with her rod and reel. It was enjoyable to throw the line out into the rough ocean waves crashing against the rocks, though it did feel futile. The low point was when I tried to get further out on the rocks like our guide and lost my footing, falling into the water and on the rocks.

Natalie’s fishing experience was not any better. With her fishing kit being made by a very old wooden fishing rod, an actual wheel of line, and a paper clip bent to be the reel handle, casting proved difficult. She even ended up 20 feet back on the beach trying to find what had happened to the tangled mess that was her line.

The fishing was still a great time to experience what this boy does on a regular basis and to ask him more questions about his day-to-day life in his village. For the most part, we got just one word answers to questions like what do you enjoy about living here and what is your favorite food. It seemed very apparent that he loved fishing based on the answers to both of these questions.

We walked back to Bulungula with no fish in hand.

Village Tour

The village tour lasted about an hour and a half. We walked with a girl from the village as she took us to the chief’s hut, a local bar, around the village, and to the lemon grass soap producer of the village. We were also accompanied by a doctor and her husband who had spent several months in Africa and South Africa was their travel time.

The local bar was an interesting place. More of a convenience store with milk crates for people to sit down and enjoy warm beer or their beer that was in milk cartons and oozing from the tops even though they were sealed. I cannot recall what the name of this drink was. It did not taste terrible, but I cannot say I went back for seconds. The beer and cider was a refreshing way to sit back with the locals and interact with them in that environment. Even though the only way we could communicate was through our guide.

Looking out from the Chief’s hut in Bulungula Lodge, South Africa ??. . Have you ever done a village stay? . We stayed at Bulungula Lodge for 3 nights during our trip through South Africa. . It was a pretty intense eye-opening experience. We went fishing in the morning with a local, did a village tour, and learned first-hand about the life of women in the village. . . . . . #travel #travelcouple #digitalnomad #travelblog #travelphoto #instatravelling #instatraveler #instatraveller #instatravelgram #instapassport #igtravel #ig_travel #sharetravelpics #travelingram #travelislife #travellover #travelgoals #travelworld #traveladdict #travelholic #bbctravel #bulungula #southafrica #travelsouthafrica #africa #travelafrica #culture #village #window #windowview

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The chief’s hut was a plain mud hut similar to the others with an animal skull and basic necessities to keep the hut clean. We even got to see him walking along the path as he stopped to scold the children who were shouting at us.

We spent very little time talking to the producer of the lemon grass soap, largely due to our time spent at the local bar. Quickly we purchased a few bars and went on our way to dinner at Bulungula.

Day Two

Our final day in Bulungula began bright and early as we chose to spend the day as a woman in Bulungula. We were picked up at our hut and taken on a walk to our guide’s house where we began our day.

It started with face painting and hair wrapping to get ready for the day in the sun. It continued into the forest where we gathered fire wood in order to prepare lunch. We then made the trek back to her hut to prepare the potatoes, fire, rice, bring the water from the well, and start picking leaves from their overgrown garden.

Between the sun and the work, it all became a little bit too overwhelming for Natalie and we decided to cut the day short just before we were about to try the fish lunch that the family was preparing.

However, we got a great experience and conversation about the women in the village and their daily chores, the men’s job to work in the mines, and how they would not want their lives any other way despite the growing number of people moving from the rural areas into the cities to get jobs.

Once back at the lodge, we ate lunch, re-hydrated, and even took part in a head massage by a local. The remainder of the day was fairly uneventful, as we had nothing else planned and waited for dinner and to talk to the others about their days.

To be honest, though our time at Bulungula was incredible, we were ready to leave after the third night. We settled our bill that night and left at six in the morning to Durban. It was a seven hour drive that began with two hours in the pouring rain on the same dirt road we drove to get to Bulungula. Not the best way to start the day, but we made it.

The Accommodation

Our huts were more than spacious enough. It was a simple hut with locks and a comfortable enough bed. The washrooms were interesting. The toilets were outhouse style, normal enough. However, the showers were called “rocket showers”.

To start your shower, simply pour lighter fluid onto a strip of toilet paper, light it on fire, stick it into the bottom pipe of your shower, listen to the sound of a rocket ship preparing to blast off, and then you get your warm spray of water all while in the nude so when the shower turns on for five minutes, you take full advantage.

It was actually quite enjoyable, though we held off trying it out on the first night there.

Beers and other less alluring fluids were available at all times in the community fridge. Simply sign the paper with what you took and you will be charged at check out. The common area always had people. Whether locals or tourists like us sitting and chatting. At night, people at dinner and then went out to the fire pit to enjoy the evening together.

Children and dogs were always present.

The food was great! Especially the bread. I do not know how they did it, but that bread was quite possibly the best I have ever tasted. Breakfasts were served as eggs and beans among other options. Lunches and dinners varied from pastas and meats with salads. Nothing really out of the ordinary.

Stay at Bulungula Lodge

Should you wish to book a stay at Bulungula Lodge, you can go through this link to book it. This link helps us earn a commission at no extra cost to you.


Bulungula Lodge is an amazing cultural experience in South Africa. If you are looking for an eco village in South Africa, tis one provides an opportunity to stay with the Xhosa people and experience life as they do. With many different activities to do when you are staying there, each paid and a great way to put money into their community, there is no lack of things to keep you busy.

Bulungula Lodge is not for the people looking for a fancy place to stay and be served, or if you hate insects, or if you do not like people. It is for the people that want a real experience of the Xhosa culture in South Africa. A first-hand experience.

We only have great things to say about this place and hope that you get a chance to visit one day.

Have you ever done an eco village stay? What was your experience like? Leave your answers in the comment section below!


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Check out more from our experiences in South Africa here.

Happy travels!

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