When did you open Salty Jackal Backpackers and what inspired you to do so?
We opened in July 2017 after taking a few months to convert it from a simple house to a hostel. The surf hostel is a way to combine my interests - surfing, sustainable living, travel and food - all into one project. After studying mechanical engineering and working in the industry for a few years, I was looking for an alternative to routine 8-5 office work.
What do you love most about Salty Jackal Backpackers?
It’s small - 14 beds - and will stay like that to have a cosy atmosphere where people hang out together. It changes, evolves, improves constantly, and people contribute creatively.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Salty Jackal Backpackers?
The most rewarding part has been running a successful and growing business while doing what I love, and meeting interesting people from all over the world and all walks of life. No two days are ever the same.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
Finding the right staff to run the backpackers. International volunteers from Workaway have made an immense contribution in running the hostel, making guests feel at home and adding little bits and personal touches to the hostel.
We never close the hostel, so it's 24/7 and 365 days a year and I live on the property - so I need to get away sometimes, which is good because I love to travel whether it's far for a few weeks or camping an hour away for a night.
Tell us about your team - how you built the team and what you love the most.
In Feb 2017, we started with just me and 1 or 2 volunteers at a time doing everything.
In March 2017, we got Signa, the cute but effective Salty Jackal guard dog from the animal shelter - the hostel wouldn't be the same without her.
In November 2017, we hired a caretaker, Anton - he does everything from cleaning, laundry, making beds and caring for the animals.
In December 2018, we hired a part-time gardener, who also repairs our large range surfboards we hire out to guests and for our surf lessons.
In June 2019, we hired a full-time receptionist who does all bookings and promotes/books guest activities e.g. skydiving, dune adventures, safaris etc.
What's next for Salty Jackal Backpackers?
- an outdoor kitchen using biogas from our own biogas digester
- 7-14 day long surf camps for beginners to advanced surfers, including meals and daily surfing
- in-house activities for our guests like sundowner picnics, stargazing in the desert
- expanding our food garden
- setting up solar energy and grey water plant
How has Tab helped Salty Jackal Backpackers?
We were never able to take payment other than cash, which can inconvenience guests and caused a lot of cancellations/no-shows from OTAs, as we had no way of getting money from guests until they were at the hostel.
Why is Namibia a great place to visit?
Namibia has some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world: vast open spaces with very few people. There are lots of animals, and I describe it as 'Africa for beginners' - it’s safe, has good roads, and is very Westernised.
The climate is wonderful - 330+ days of sun without too much humidity.
What trends and changes have you noticed in tourism?
There are less clear seasons now, with travellers about all year round.
There’s a difference between smaller groups doing their own trips, versus large groups in overland buses.
You can find out more about Salty Jackal Backpackers on their website at https://www.saltyjackal.com/en-gb.