Leave from Cape Town Central
This fun and informative tour can be taken on either a morning or an afternoon. For the morning tour we will depart at around 09h30 and for the afternoon we will leave at around 14h00. We will leave from a central point in Cape Town; which is often named as one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Cape Town’s awesome weather, incredible scenery and friendly people make any visit unforgettable.
The City Bowl lies in a natural amphitheatre created by Table Mountain, Lions Head, Signal hill and Devils’ Peak. The vibrant city centre is still a focus of business, culture and tourism. For many centuries Cape Town has provided a sanctuary for passing ships and the city still handles much marine traffic. Passing ships and settlers have made Cape Town home to unique cultures and people.
Through the Apartheid years many people were forced to live in certain areas due to their racial profile. This has led to these areas having a distinctive culture and feel within Cape Town. It is these dynamic areas that we will explore on a fascinating half day tour.
Visit the Bo-Kaap
The Bo-Kaap has been closely associated with Cape Town’s Muslim Community and is one of the city’s oldest areas. The multicultural community has had a long and colourful history through the years and the first development in the area was begun in 1768. It occupies an enviable position in the City Bowl on the lower slopes of Signal Hill. This picturesque neighbourhood is filled with cobbled streets and multi-coloured houses.
The story of the Bo-Kaap has been intertwined with South Africa’s troubled politics. The first mosque in the Cape was built here at the bequest of Saartjie van de Kaap, a freed slave woman, and is still in use, although much altered, today. During the Apartheid years it became an exclusive residential area for Cape Muslims and all other religions and races were forced to relocate to other areas. It became one of very few working class neighbourhoods in South Africa that was still close to the city centre.
Throughout its long history the Bo-Kaap has left an indelible mark on this city. Your knowledgeable tour guide will uncover this fascinating history and make the story of the people of Bo-Kaap come alive.
The Urban Areas Act of 1923 was the first step in formalising the racial separation of the people of South Africa. It forced African’s to live in segregated areas away from cities and suburbs. This was the birth of Langa, South Africa’s oldest township. Langa was planned for maximum visibility of the residents, and maximum control. Gatherings were not allowed by the police and alcohol was regulated up until 1930. This led to the growth of many illegal distilleries and bars (shebeens) being operated out of houses.
With many rural immigrants looking for a better life in the city, Langa became a hotbed of culture and fashion. It also played a prominent role as a part of the anti-Apartheid struggle. On 21 March 1960, the same day as the Sharpeville Massacre, several people were killed during an anti-pass rally.
Although Langa translates as “sun” in Xhosa it was actually named in honour of Chief Langalibalele, who was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1873 for rebelling against the Natal government. Many people campaigned for his release and he was eventually moved to a farm called “Uitvlugt”. This was farm was adjacent to the present day Langa, and was the source of its name.
We will stop at the police station in Langa and explore the pass laws that were used to control and victimise people during Apartheid.
Khayelitsha / Gugulethu
Life in South Africa’s townships can be tough and demanding but the irrepressible spirit of its people exudes through their houses, vehicles and culture. Khayelitsha (“New Home” in Xhosa) is South Africa’s youngest and largest township and is another legacy of the countries racial segregation policies. Throughout the 20th century there was a steady influx of rural immigrants to Cape Town and by the early 1980’s conditions in several illegal townships were dreadful. The decision was made by the Apartheid government to create new, formal, townships and forcefully relocate people into them. Khayelitsha is the result of this process.
In the years since Apartheid ended, Khayelitsha has benefited from improved formal infrastructure although; the entrepreneurial spirit of the people is still in full force. You can still find shipping container shops alongside more formal buildings. Although the township still suffers from poverty and unemployment the people are friendly and inviting and you will find many craftsman, artists and musicians just waiting to make you smile. Exploring Khayalitsha is always a surprising and rewarding experience.
Township life at the Shebeen
A shebeen is often at the heart of the township community. It is where people come together to meet, drink and chat. The beer flows freely and township music belts out over the speakers. Formerly illegal bars, shebeens still retain much of the charm of their informal days. Tables are usually covered in plastic tablecloths while beer is generally only sold in quart sizes. There is no better way to end a fascinating tour into South Africa’s Township life. Come as a stranger and leave as friends, the warm owners and patrons will make you feel right at home.
Return to Cape Town
At the end of the tour, after an incredible journey into Cape Town’s past and future, we head back to the city centre. This short tour will leave you with great memories for a lifetime.