Through the years in the guest house we have experienced a couple of township tours already. Usually, we were taken on a VW Minibus to the most interesting place around the townships of Cape Town. We saw Khayelitsha (Zulu for “our new home”), the biggest township in Cape Town – with around 2 million people living there – , and second biggest township in South Africa; we experienced Nyanga (Zulu for “moon”) with all its hustling and bustling markets, shacks and wonderful people. This time, we had the opportunity to enjoy an absolutely fantastic tour through Langa (Zulu for “sun”), the oldest of the Mother City’s Townships, by bike!
When we offer township tours to our guests, we get many different reactions. Usually there are those who would love to see the townships, and those, who are not interested at all in being driven around the poorest areas of this wonderful city in a bus, “staring down” on the people who they think must feel like they are “animals in a zoo”. We always explain to our guests that visiting a township to find out how it really is, is a very important thing, as the townships are as much part of this city as Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope are. Few know how interesting and colourful life in the townships is, and how happy and proud their residents are. Many believe that townships are nothing more than a vast amount of shacks – those self-made huts with corrugated iron as a roof -, which is just not true.
All in all there will be no way around experiencing it yourself and getting to know how township life fells like. If you would also feel bad sitting in a bus, here is the solution: Experience it on a bike!
Vamos! took us on a tour trough the township of Langa. We met up at Guga S’Thebe Arts and Culture Centre in Washington Street in the heart of the Langa township. After being handed over our mode of transport for the next two hours – mountain bikes – we set off to a very special tour with many insights and lots of fun. The guide took us through small streets, past kindergardens, schools, through colourful markets by the train station, explaining township life and giving us lots of absolutely interesting background information. Did you know that Langa has a part of town informally called “Hollywood”? That is where the nurses and doctors, entrepreneurs and self-employed live in houses that sell at the same prices houses are sold for in other parts of Cape Town, as they want to stay in the township they grow up in and land is scarce.
All along the way we had children running out of houses, jumping on the rear racks, obviously having the times of their lives. People waved at us, smiling from ear to ear. Not a single second I felt uneasy or “bad” for being there as the locals definitely enjoyed our presence.
In an old garage in the far corner of Langa, we stopped for half an hour to watch the “Happy Feet Gumboot Dancing Project”, a group of children from extremely poor families proudly showed us their gumboot dancing skills. This group was founded by the owner of Vamos! for the children in the area to keep them off the streets.
This is definitely one of the must-dos for every tourist coming to Cape Town! You have not seen the City if you have not visited the townships. Speak to Lena and Marco for bookings with Vamos. Tours start every day, three times for two hours. Enjoy!