It’s interesting to note how popular townships tours have become with visitors to our country who are searching for personal and authentic encounters with our citizens.

A walking tour of Kayamandi – which means “sweet home” in Xhosa – is part of Stellenbosch’s Route 360 cultural tourism initiative. “Rather than being a geographical route, Route 360, is a ‘people’s route’ that paves the way into the hearts and homes of six Stellenbosch communities through authentic cultural experiences that offer visitors a colourful slice of the locals’ unique lifestyle, traditions and tastes,” they say.

“Our Route 360 Township Tours are not only a vehicle for socio-economic transformation; we also unearth and showcase emerging entrepreneurs and talent whilst we share with tourists the rich and diverse cultural tapestry of Stellenbosch,” explains Ann Heyns, Stellenbosch 360 development manager.

Kayamandi Walking Tour

Tours take place Mondays to Saturdays from 10am till 1pm. You’ll meet at Stellenbosch 360’s head office in Market Street, then walk to the taxi rank to catch a ride to the township. Our guide was the vivacious Thembi Koli who took us on a meandering walk through the paved streets and brick houses, to the narrow alleys between the shacks, demonstrating the contrasts presents in most townships.

Along with learning the history of the township, regarded as the second-oldest in South Africa, we stopped to visit several places. Like the crèche run by Zoleka Mpemnyama where she looks after toddlers whose teenage mothers attend the school across the road. The raucous bunch of children was quickly assembled into a circle to sing us a song.

Kayamandi Food

We met ceramicist Jimmy Datini in his workshop where he demonstrated his magical expertise with clay and a potter’s wheel. Here you can choose to merely observe, or participate. It’s not nearly as easy as he makes it look. Next we popped in at Portia Mpangwa’s house where she makes jewellery with glass beads, porcupine quills, wire, and other materials. Our last stop was at Mama Swartbooi who fed us a traditional lunch.

To book a half – or full day tour with additional activities including performing and visual arts or hands-on cooking and baking experiences – contact Ann Heyns at Stellenbosch 360 on 021 883 3584, email, or visit the information centre at 36 Market Street. Tours include transport, meal, beverages and a tour guide.