Africa Travel News

Touring through the other side of Cape Town

During a safari in South Africa, you'll have the privilege to see animals that only a handful of lucky travelers have witnessed, from big game mammals like elephants and lions to small and graceful migratory birds like flamingos and egrets. In the capital of Cape Town, you can get a different side of African life by taking a walk or bike ride through the surrounding villages and townships where locals have managed to stay afloat for generations.

Using simple and basic materials to build their homes, these villagers have thrived despite economic and political turmoil, and today, create handicrafts and luxurious textiles you won't be able to find anywhere else in the world. What's more, the half a dozen or so restaurants dotting the main street may be humble in appearance, but offer incredible fare that will tantalize your tastebuds.

Visiting the Masiphumelele Township

When this village was first developed in the 1980s, it was known as Site 5, before the local Xhosa people quickly renamed it to Masiphumelele, which means "we will succeed." Since 2002, when visitors first started touring the town, about 3,000 people have passed through, boosting the local economy and calling international attention to the businesses and artists living there.

Many of the buildings in the town are made of recycled Matson containers, which you may recognize as the large shipment crates piled high onto large boats. Convenience stores, restaurants and homes are typically colored bright shades - a perfect representation of the area's kind and happy residents. Recently, Landlopers contributor Matt Long took a tour through the town and found himself in a nameless cafe, where he sat down to enjoy a mouthwatering meal.

"We stepped through a tin roofed building and found picnic tables and benches set up," Long wrote. "The proprietor was smiling, clearly anticipating our arrival. The food was cooked over an open flame in a brick oven next door, and the procession of crispy chicken and succulent sausages served with the starchy pap was a simple but incredibly delicious meal."

Despite feeling a little out of place as a foreigner, Long was made to feel no less welcome by everyone he passed by.

As with any South African safari, you should definitely bring a pair of good sneakers and sun screen with you, because much of your visit will be spent wandering outside in the bright sunshine.

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