A fascinating window into the dynamics of South African life, townships are bustling centres of energy, creativity and entrepreneuralism. They are also where you are likely to have one of your most authentic experiences during your visit to South Africa.
You should always book through a reputable agent. Check out www.capetown.travel
Near to Fishhoek is the vibrant township of Masiphumelele, which you can explore on cyle or walking tours. The best walking tour is led by
the engaging Charlotte 'Nomthunzie' Swartbooi, a local resident. The tour is extremely good value and you get to see a side of Cape life
somewhat different to the upmarket areas of Cape Town. The other residents are fairly friendly and happy to for you to take photos,
especially the children, who clamoured to play with my camera and see the photos.
One of the more relaxing places to enjoy a variety of cheap to expensive wines, normally eight to 12 wines are tasted.
Waterford is known for its chocolate and wine tasting, where you get three pieces of different chocolate with three different red wines
Cellar: Blaauwklippen Rd, Helderberg, Stellenbosch.
Tel no: 021 880 0496
This is a great trip round a historic centre. We travelled over on the old prison boats. Former inmates of the prison guide you round and bring home what life was really like for them, and the horrors of apartheid. There is also a bus tour of the island, including a stop outside the house of Robert Sobukwe, leader of the Pan African Congress. He was kept here in isolation following his release from prison because the authorities were so afraid of the popular support for this man who broke from the ANC and advocated the use of arms in the struggle.
Be warned you need to book tickets in advance – best to go to the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront to do this at least one day before you want to visit. We tried phoning to book but were told there was a 2 week wait! When we went along we got tickets for the next day! They are about to bring new bigger boats into service because of the demand, so it may get easier.
While you are waiting why not go to see the small museum at Jetty One (free entry), listen to audio recording of former prisoners, their families, lawyers and prison employees in the bleak waiting room where they had to wait for boats.
Here's a really novel idea of evening entertainment: The Jazz Safari introduces small groups of travellers to the private homes of various famous Cape Town Jazz personalities.
You'll dine with them, listen to their stories, hear their music! A real Cape Town experience!
These guys are township specialists and one of the first to show the "other" side of Cape Town. They'll take you into New Rest and show you a really personal tour. This is highly recommended and a real eye opener.
Cape Town is cosmpolitan and sophisticated, however the drive from the airport will remind you that there is another very different side to the city. Township tours give you a glimpse of the townships which is both humbling and inspiring, a world away from the smart tourism of central Cape Town, but the everyday experience of millions of black South Africans. The tours provide a historic background, and opportunities to see and support community projects.
There are several companies that will take groups on township tours, as it is not advisable to visit them without a guide. The Tourist Information Office in town has information on most of them.
A tour company run by a young man from the Cape Town Flats area trying to get his business off the ground. Chris took us on a wonderful day's tour of the wine fields and to the Cape of Good Hope. He was fun, informative and relaxed. We felt good about redressing some of the financial imbalances only too visible as a result of the years of apartheid.
Tel: Chris on 083 246 1924
This can be organised by your hotel. Ours included a quick visit to Bo Kaap, the Malay/Muslim area, which is highly photogenic and has an interesting history. Then we paid a call to the District Six museum, which is fascinating. On to a township where we saw the development of the area, visited a shebeen and saw inside one of the flats. We spoke with a gentleman who had been living in the same room since 1970. You should usually have a chance to see a creche - lots of lovely cuddly children (!*!). Try to ensure that at least a fair proportion of the (fairly pricey) payment goes to the township itself.
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