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May 29, 2012

Cape Town township tour – discover the magic

The beauty of the city of Cape Town is legendary, but the city’s attractions include more than the beach, mountains and winelands.

And the outskirts of the city hold many hidden gems yet to be discovered.

Township tours are a great way to explore the city’s vibrant informal settlements and interact with local residents. With anything from a rundown of the history of the area, city and country, to tasting home-cooked meals, visitors will return home with a broader knowledge of the city and its inhabitants, having experienced a lesser-known side of Cape Town.

Here is a list of exciting township tours:

Soccer is an important pastime in Khayelitsha. Photo courtesy iphilipp.

Nomvuyo’s Tours

Nomvuyo’s Tours takes place in Khayelitsha, the largest township in the Western Cape that is less than 30 minutes from the city centre. Supporting responsible tourism, the tour visits and supports various initiatives in Khayelitsha, from craft and children’s projects to nutrition centres and Habitat for Humanity. It also keeps tour groups small so that visits are intimate and encroachment on residents' homes is minimal.

Half-day tours take place seven days a week, while the company also offers evening dinner visits and overnight B&B stays.

Read what Lamont41 from Worcester, Massachusetts said of Nomvuyo’s Tours on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site featuring advice from travellers.

“This was one of the best highlights of my stay in Cape Town. …if you’re looking to take a visit into the township, look no further than Jenny Housdon and Nomvuyo’s Tours. What Jenny is doing is providing a real experience, which allows the visitor to interact with the people and engage in a way that makes one want to be proactive in their activism... I felt the warmth and hospitality of a tightly knit community.”

For more information on Nomvuyo’s Tours, contact +27 (0)83 372 9131, email info@nomvuyos-tours.co.za or visit www.nomvuyos-tours.co.za.

Langa is filled with local artworks. Photo courtesy sharon.schneider.

Siviwe Tours

Siviwe Tours transports visitors to Langa, one of the oldest townships in Cape Town.

Typically, visitors will view four housing and socio-economic areas, including informal settlements and worker hostels, with an opportunity to interact with residents along the way.

During the two-hour walking tour, Siviwe Tours incorporates cultural entertainment, including song and dance. A highlight for visitors is to let the beat wash over them as they experience a uniquely local style of dance – gumboot dance.

Read what Derek from Australia said of his experience with Siviwe Tours on TripAdvisor on October 17, 2011.

“Langa township tour with Siviwe Tours a must-do. The tour took us through the narrow streets of the township. We explored the hostels, the houses and the shanty shacks… Don’t visit Cape Town without seeing this side of the city – I hope you get as much out of it as we did."

Contact Siviwe Tours on +27 (0)84 945 0739 or visit www.townshiptourscapetown.co.za.

Meljo Tours

Meljo tours offers a wide variety of tours to choose from, including a township tour. With more than 12 years’ experience, the guides are knowledgeable about the city and all it has to offer.

The township tour incorporates Gugulethu and Langa, two of the oldest townships in Cape Town. The guides are well versed on the history of South Africa and Cape Town in particular – perfect for history buffs or anyone who is merely curious.

For more information on any of the tours offered, email info@meljo-tours.com or visit www.meljo-tours.com.

Camissa Tours

Launched in 2006 as a true “black-owned and managed South African company,” Camissa Tours focuses on the inhabitants of the townships and their daily lives, culture and traditions.

The operator promises minimal environmental interference and maximum participation by township residents.

Camissa Tours offers a variety of tours, including a half-day township tour, gospel tours, township eco-tour, township poetry and snacks tour, township diski (social soccer) tour, Robben Island tour and more.

You can also choose to experience the townships at your own pace on a private tour.

Read what Andy said of Camissa Tours on TripAdvisor on August 12, 2011.

“Great experience. The tour with Samantha was really great… I highly recommend this tour to anyone who really wants to get close to the people living in townships… Thanks a lot!”

For more information, contact Camissa Tours on +27 (0)21 510 2646, email ops@gocamissa.co.za or visit www.gocamissa.co.za.

Coffeebeans Routes

A contemporary, urban African company, Coffeebeans Routes offers insights into local cultures to create memorable travel experiences.

Based in central Cape Town, the operator offers tours to a variety of areas, such as Langa, Manenberg, Khayelitsha, Mitchell's Plain, Athlone and Gugulethu, where visitors will have the opportunity to get to know the locals and sample home-made dishes.

For more information on the various tours offered by Coffeebeans Routes, contact +27 (0)21 424 3572, email info@coffeebeansroutes.com or visit www.coffeebeansroutes.com.

Memorial to the Gugulethu Seven. Photo courtesy Alison Whyte.

Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory

Strictly speaking not a tour operator, the Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory is a non-profit peace and human rights organisation based in Cape Town that offers the Journey of Remembrance tour.

For those interested in the political history of Cape Town, the tour commemorates young Capetonians who fought in the struggle against apartheid, including the Gugulethu Seven and Trojan Horse political clash.

For more information on the Journey of Remembrance tour, contact +27 (0)21 448 5760, email contact@dacpm.org or visit www.dacpm.org.

Ukubona Africa Tours

Ukubona Africa Tours introduces visitors to one of the lesser-known townships, Mfuleni, but the richness of the experience rivals all other township tours.

While touring the township, visitors not only meet the locals and gain insight into their culture, daily lives and customs, but also have the opportunity to encounter members of a women’s empowerment group, Hloniphisiswe.

To experience the transforming township with Ukubona Africa Tours, contact +27 (0)21 447 6327, email jasmine@ukubonaafricatours.co.za or visit www.ukubonaafricatours.co.za.

Biking through townships is a great way to meet the locals. Photo courtesy BikeAndSaddleTrips.

Awol Tours

Together with non-profit organisation Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN), AWOL Tours runs a bicycle tourism programme in the Masiphumelele community of Cape Town.

AWOL’s guests hire bicycles from the BEN independent dealers and are then taken on a tour of Masiphumelele, incorporating local businesses. On the township tour, visitors will come face-to-face with a sangoma, visit crafters and local artists, and can enjoy lunch at a local eatery, Nongolozi’s Restaurant.

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 418 3803, email info@awoltours.co.za or visit www.awoltours.co.za.

While strolling through Bo-Kaap you will notice how it adds colour to the city. Photo courtesy neiljs.

Cape Capers

Cape Capers introduces visitors to the District Six area and the Langa and Bo-Kaap townships and delves into their history, the creation of Cape Town, and how the townships have transformed over the years.

Read what Awet Y said of Cape Capers on TripAdvisor on January 13, 2012.

“An excellent tour with an excellent tour guide. Faizal, our very knowledgeable, down-to-earth guide, took us on a walking tour of the famous District Six area, the Langa township, the Cape Flats and Athlone…. I can honestly say that this was one of the highlights of our time in Cape Town. The Cape Capers Tours comes highly recommended!”

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 448 3117, email info@tourcapers.co.za or visit www.tourcapers.co.za.

A fun game of soccer breaks down any language barriers. Photo courtesy Ian Harris.

Ashanti Travel Centre

South Africa is a nation of sporting enthusiasts, sport spectators, and all-round sports aficionados – and one of our favourite sports is soccer.

The township diski (social soccer) tour combines a traditional township tour with the added bonus of a soccer game. Visitors will learn of the history of soccer in Cape Town, the local teams in the Premier Soccer League and township soccer development.

The tour ends with the chance to down a drink and chat to the locals about the beautiful game of soccer.

For more information, contact Ashanti Travel Centre on +27 (0)21 423 8721, email info@ashanti.co.za or visit www.ashanti.co.za.

Ubuntu Khayelitsha on Bikes

Pedal your way through Khayelitsha on bicycles and discover a new way to get to know Cape Town.

The tour includes visits to various locations in Khayelitsha, including Lookout Hill, Nkanini Village and Khayelitsha Museum. Visitors end the tour with a groovy barbeque at popular local spot, Groova Lounge.

For more information, contact Loyiso on +27 (0)73 768 5001, email loyiso@townshipbiketour.com or visit www.townshipbiketour.com.

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