Many Xhosas and Sans are Christians but they still hold on to some of their old traditions. Because I am a woman I was taken to the beginning of the "graduation ceremony" for the ending of their rites of passage from boys to men. There is a lot of singing and if you choose to stay long a lot of food. It may be best not to eat before you go since it is considered rude to say that you do not want to eat their food. If they do offer you it is best to just take a sample. As a woman you are limited to what you can ask because this ritual is secretative and is only kept among the realms of men. Sometimes they may also take you to visit a witch doctor as well. It depends on time and what you want.
Very few tours offer this but Cape Fusion is the one that I used.
The churches in the city and in the southern suburbs last for 2 hours maximum. The churches in the townships can start at 9:30 and end at 2pm. I went to a church in a township as part of a tour and I liked it because I felt like the people were for real. As usual the harmonies of the music that played was intoxicating and the prayers were powerful. I could not sit through the entire service unfortunately because the pastor started to speak in Xhosa mostly. In the beginning the service was in both English in Xhosa but what happened was they all thought I was from South African because I am Black. They did not realize that I was American. Plus the church had a good number of people in it, so any slight differences that I may have shown were not apparent from where he stood. I still encourage others to go it is still a moving experience
Different tour groups offer this but I recommend Cape Fusion who works with Thutka. They are also flexible in showing you other parts of the townships that is of interest to you.
Some of these people dress when they come to church, so I would leave the jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts at home as to not stand out so much.
The cost is r350.
In the summer at the waterfront craft market wellness center from 1pm to 2pm on Saturday there is a free drumming circle held. Its a lot of fun and it releases a lot of tension and stress. I highly recommend it. There are extra drums available in case you do not have one of your own so do not worry.
I spent three months in Cape Town and during my stay I volunteered at a school and in the townships. I did not go through a volunteer agency which would have made me pay big money. Instead I opened a phone book once arriving and called schools, non profits and other social agencies. This website is also very helpful:
Rondevlei is a Bird Sanctuary (Nature Reserve) near Zeekoevlei and Grassy Park!
See lots of different bird species but always be on the look-out for a Hippo!
Not so common:
Hippo - 5 most definatly exist in Rondevlei but seeing one is a different story!
Rondevlei/Zeekoevlei was also where the infamous Hippo "Houdini" escaped in 2004, you may have seen something about it on the news; (bbc http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3641226.stm) :)
My grandmothers (Ouma) friend published a book on it!
Hout Bay is a small town South of Cape Town which is know for it's fishmarket. Mariner's wharf is also a great place to visit, if you're looking for some souvenirs or if you're hungry.
The scenic Chapman's Peak Drive starts at Hout Bay. It's a 5km toll road and the fee is 22 Rand per car. Unfortunately the weather was rainy and foggy when was there, so I just could guess how amazing the views must be.
Silvermine Nature Reserve is located South of Cape Town and was named after some unsuccessful attempts to mine silver here. It's a beautiful place to go hiking though. You'll wander through fynbos (the local bush) and if you you come in autumn you'll see the proteas blossoming.
There's a car park on Ou Kaapse Weg from where a lot of the trails start. Entrance is 10 Rand per car if I remember it correctly.
This towns is full of picturesque and character-filled buildings, with historical architecture.
It is renowned for two things ~ camels and caves!
There are a few camel farms just outside of Oudtshoorn which are definately a 'must do' when there!
The Cango Caves are another 'must do'. They are ancient and we thoroughly enjoyed the little we were able to explore. The tour guide told the usual 'trying-to-be-clever' stories re why different cave rock formations got their names etc... but all-in-all it was a very good guide with some vast chambers and stunning formations.
This town is also on the R62 Brandy Route... a relatively new route (when compared to the Cape's wine routes)... and includes 6 brandy cellars and a museum.
Standing at 857 meters, the Groot Kop stands as the highest of the Apostles (Blinkwater Peak, at 989 meters, is not one of the anointed Twelve). To reach the top you have a ways to walk in whichever direction you tackle the peak from: the Table Mountain cable station, the Camps Bay sea shore, the exposed end-section of the Suikerbossie track leading up from Llandudno or one of the long options that lead up the east side of Table Mountain (i.e. Skeleton Gorge from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Area) which all involve long traverses across the water reservoirs of the Back Table. The main trail that traverses the spine of the Twelve Apostles is known as the Suikerbossie Track. This track traverses around the east slopes of Groot Kop from where a small boot-path leads off and up - the path is marked by a simple cairn. In maybe 300-400 meters horizontal, you gain the required 70 or so vertical meters - a little scrambling being required at times - and can take in the vast views from the top. It is fascinating to see the back side of Table Mountain and its water reservoirs. You can see the cliffs of the Orange Face drop off the Back Table. Turning you gaze to the south and southeast, you look over Constantiaberg to farther peaks near Muizenber and Simon's Town. Hout Bay is far below. Judas Peak is just to the south, the last of the Twelve. To the west, cliffs drop 857 meters to the Atlantic just south of Camps Bay. You will probably be alone up here, so be prepared for possible weather changes. Wind/fog from the southeast - the Cape Doctor - is a condition for immediate retreat.
Well if you in Camps Bay there is a Shark Wise Board on the beach which will give you helpful information of what to do just incase you got bitten by a Great White Shark. The board gives alot of helpful information regarding this like....reducing the risk of shark bites , why sharks bite people , safety protocols and what to do if you get bitten.
When you land at CT International, you can almost touch the informal settlements below you. These are the areas of Guguletu, Nyanga, Langa and Khayelitsha. Desperately poor and mostly completely overlooked by the tourist dollar.
Why not seek out a township tour? As poor as these areas are, you'll find a lot of soul. And while you're at it, why not think about buying all your cold drinks or other daily consumables for the week from a shop here?
Oh and you really can see airplanes taking off (and landing) over your head
If you fancy a bit different a place to see in Cape Town, Observatory definitely is different from rest of Cape Town! It used to be a suburb where the hippies, artists and musicians had their homes and even during apartheid people of all colours still lived together. The narrow streets and Victorian-style houses give Obs its atmosphere. However, Observatory has now turned to be a bit of a trendy place to live in. It is a popular place for a night out and there are restaurants and bars for every taste to choose from on Lower Main Road!
You can get to Obs by train (it's on the Fish Hoek/Simon's Town line) or minibus taxi from the city centre. The trip takes about 10-15 minutes.
Barleycorn started off as a folk music club, but is now a venue for a variety of artists to showcase their music. They meet every Monday at the River Club in Observatory from 8pm. In October the club runs the annual songwriting competition. The rules for this are that the song must never have been performed before. A very pleasant evening to be had by all.
River Club, Liesbeek Parkway, Observatory.
Behind Kalk Bay mountains is the Silvermine Nature Reserve. I have many fond memories of braais (BBQs) and picnics here along the stream. It was burnt quite badlt in the fires of 1997, but has rejuvenated itself well. It is amazing to see how robust plant life and vegetation is.
An hour's hike from here will take you up to Clovelly Cave with its spectacular panoramic views over False Bay . There are more than ninety caves and tunnels in the vicinity, although one must be careful when going down them as there have been fatalities in the past when people have not taken care enough when in them.
Chapman's Peak is a much travelled and absolutely stunning drive, taking you from Hout Bay to the other side of the mountain along a windy and narrow road, coming out at Noordhoek (in the Fish Hoek valley). There has been extensive work done on it in the last few years as there had been some fatalities with rock falls, and so it has been made a lot safer, although this has taken away the natural element somewhat.
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