Looking to get on a township tour in Cape Town? If you get nothing else out of travelling, you want to meet and mingle among the locals. This may be achieved as part of a township tour Cape Town. This allows you to explore some of Cape Town’s iconic townships as part of a group. The groups are led by an experienced guide, who has taken many similar tours.
Townships in Cape Town
Townships are a product of apartheid South Africa. They were formed as a way of keeping the natives in areas where they could be controlled, in the event of an uprising. Most natives would have a homeland, where the family stays or are from. This is where they would still be engaged in farming. With the increase in opportunity within the city, more and more people would leave the homeland in search of these. They would not be able to settle in some areas, as they were either prohibitively expensive, or illegal for someone of their ethnicity to stay. Townships would take them in with open arms.
Large portions of the population would have been in some form of tradesman job in the city. The women would have been in nanny roles, as well as skilled office jobs towards the end of apartheid.
The areas were commonly underdeveloped, overpopulated and segregated. These were the places were the liberation struggle was largely masterminded.
Outside of the wildly famous Soweto in Johannesburg, Cape Town is home to some of the most iconic townships in South Africa.
Khayelitsha: Township Tour Cape Town
Khayelitsha is Xhosa for “Our new home”, which for all intents and purposes was what this place was for the people who settled there. It is located on the Cape flats of the Western Cape of South Africa. Khayelitsha is widely regarded as the fasted growing suburb in size and population. It is one of the youngest townships, as it was implemented in the last decade of apartheid.
As of 2011, Khayelitsha had a population of 391,749. An estimated half of the population still reside in informal dwelling, commonly known as shacks. They are built with material that most of would just discard. Yet, we see them here converted into homes.
Mitchell’s Plain: Township Tour Cape Town
Mitchell’s Plain is located about 20 miles out of the city. It is also situated on the Cape flats of the Western Cape. Mitchell’s plain was a model suburb built at the height of apartheid. It was built as a housing solution for the dispersed coloured community, who were victims of the Group Areas act. Today, the population is an estimated 300 000+/-.
It became a major stronghold for the ANC and other anti-apartheid movements. The logic of confining a majority people to a small area as a measure of containment backfired. Beyond the historical context, Mitchell’s plain offer a great day out shopping. It is home to the Liberty Promenade, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Cape Town, and South Africa as a whole. When there is a large population, whose income grows, it is a great place to have businesses. Expenditure rises, which is great for business.
Due to the sheer size of it, Mitchell’s Plain has been split into smaller sub-suburbs. These subsections are a tell all sign for wealth disparity. The Western part of Mitchell’s plain is wealthier than the easter part. It is a fairly self-sustaining community. There are a lot of schools and other key institutions within the community.
Gugulethu: Township Tour Cape Town
Gugulethu is Xhosa for “our pride”, which is igugu = pride and lethu = our. It is located about 12 miles from the City of Cape Town. Gugs, as it is affectionately known by the locals was an absolute hotbed during apartheid. Most of the residents there were forcibly moved in. There are several tragic incidents that have hit this community. One of these was the Gugulethu Seven in 1986, which saw 7 activists/residents murdered in broad daylight by the apartheid security. There is a memorial that was built to commemorate these lost lives.
It has been featured among 50 of the most violent cities in the world. This is perhaps one of the reasons why most township tours will not come through the areas. If you decide to take a tour of one of South Africa’s most iconic suburbs, be sure to what makes a good tour. A bad tour may lend you in a pickle.
Today, more and more is being done to create programs that assist the youth within the community. There are several initiatives that are growing the local IT sector. Gugs has a rich heritage of music, with jazz at the forefront. Be sure to insist on your guide showing this to you.
Langa: Township Tour Cape Town
Langa was built in 1927 for the black community in Cape Town. It is the oldest suburb of its nature in Cape Town. The word langa can be translated to “sun” or “day”. It is said to have been named after a rainmaker from the area, who was placed on Robben Island for dissent. There was an uproar at the time, as many were not happy with this imprisonment.
The suburb was a pioneering form of apartheid architect. It was designed with emphasis of control and visibility. The apartheid police wanted to have a clear view of people within Langa, at all times, and be able to control them at will.
It is considered to be relatively safe for township tours. There are various providers that run tours to Langa.
What makes a good township tour
Township tours somewhat feed into what we always recommend for travellers. It is integral that you would become a part of any community that you travel to. It enhances your experience. Travelling is about feeding the soul. Hotels and beaches don’t do much of this. It is the people that you have an opportunity to meet that can do this for you. Here are some of the things to consider when it comes to picking a township tour.
- A reputable tour provider
- A Good tour guide
- The Ethics (zoo)
- What you see and do
A good name is worth more than riches. That statement rings true in these parts. A reputable tour provider is one that has a good rapport with both travellers and the locals. At times you need someone to bridge seamlessly between you and the locals. Checking the reviews or asking around will go a long way.
The tour guide/s is the person with whom you will be spending most of the day. It is important that they know what they are doing and cares for your experience. It is also worth knowing what languages they speak, to see if you can go with someone who you can understand.
The ethics of touring areas where people still reside are a sticky area. As a matter of personal preference, I would say it is important to allow the local their dignity. You should not be going around taking photos of people without their consent. For the most part, the locals are very welcoming and would most certainly oblige when asked for a photo. This is not a zoo, these are people. They should be treated with great respect.
When picking a township tour provider, we would also recommend considering the convenience of the tour. Where do they pick you up from and drop you off? How close is that point to where you are staying? You also want a tour that is not too rushed, you would ideally want to have sufficient time to see the areas that you tour.
Always find out what you will see and do on these tours. Knowing this before signing up is important to understanding whether it is worth your money or not. You also want to make sure that they are taking you to all the key areas of the city.
To make sure the cost is just right, compare it with the other township tour providers. They won’t all offer the same things and the same areas. Find the very best value among all the deals that are available.
Here are some picks for TOWNSHIP TOURS. When you use this link, we get a small commission for your booking. Please let us know how your experience goes. Enjoy your tours. Support local businesses! Buy souvenirs made by locals.