The other side of Table Mountain – Cape Town


Planning to travel in Africa?  The magnificent Table Mountain is a drawing card and the starting point is the infamous Cape Town for most… today we look over and behind Table Mountain.

Table Mountain

The perks of traveling to Africa are endless. Instead of scanning the game parks for rhino or setting off for a day sampling Cape chardonnays, take a  look at the other side.

The townships of Cape Town….. You inhale the roots of freedom, exhaling air of human rights, justice, and reconciliation. A flow from shebeens to sangomas, the emotional sensory vibe sets you sparkling off with a vivid social culture. Nothing is amiss as every township bubbles with its own unique story about its struggles and how it evolved and revolved to its current state.

A treasure in the center of Cape Town – Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

Beyond the hustles and bustles, just beyond the city of Cape Town, you find Bo-Kaap.

The “Bo Kaap” is one of the most interesting parts of Cape Town culturally and historically. Colorful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer, and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa add to this unique Cape experience. It is a multicultural area, tucked into the fold of signal hill. Use the cobblestoned streets as your guide and you will be lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.

Use the cobblestoned streets as you are lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.

The residents of Bo-Kaap are mostly descended from slaves who were imported to the Cape by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They came from Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Java Malaysia. Some of them were political exiles and convicts. They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of Bo-Kaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-

They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of BoKaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-makaasi” thank-you, as well as  “kanalah” please! There are also many words, which have also been substituted with Afrikaans.

Funnily enough, Afrikaans evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch so that the slaves could communicate with the Dutch and each other since they all came from different countries and cultures. Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.
Cape Carnival

Each year on the 2nd of January, the Bo-Kaap celebrates a big street party, the “Coon Carnival” in the center of town. It was originally introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year. Nowadays men, woman, and children march from the Grand Parade to the Green Point stadium, singing, and dancing.

 

Kramat

Kramats or Muslim Shrines are burial sites of Saints of Islam. Cape Town residents have for a number of generations paid their respects these Shrines. There are three Karamats in Bo Kaap, and Signal Hill behind BoKaap has two.

 

 

Bo-Kaap Museum

One of the oldest buildings in Wale Street 71 houses the “Bo-Kaap Museum”. It is necessary to see since it feels like your stepping back in time. Built in by Jan de Waal in 1768, the museum was originally the home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a well-known Turkish scholar and prominent leader in the Muslim community. He was brought here in the mid-19th century to help quell feuding between Muslim factions and is believed to have written one of the first books in Afrikaans. The house has been furnished to re-create the lifestyle of a typical Malay family in the 19th century within a national socio-political and cultural context. Look for works by artist Gregoire Boonzaire, who’s famous for capturing the chaos and charm of neighborhoods such as the Bo-Kaap and District Six.

The Dutch brought slaves that were skilled artisans, political exiles, artisans, religious leader’s famous scholars, and convicts too. Islam, who roots started in Saudi Arabia some 1400 years ago, was brought to the Cape in the 1700’s. Skills and talents passed down from generation to generation accompanied these slaves. Not only skilled artisan but also superb cooks and cuisines blossomed. The Cape Malay Cuisine is not only delicious but also unique and has played a huge role in South African dishes.

A township tour can be one of the most illuminating and life-affirming experiences you will ever have.

 

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Timeless Train Journeys In Africa

Travelling is not about the destination. It is about the journey.  There are much quicker ways to get from one point to the next, yet train travels at a slow pace phases out the daily life hustle and bustle rush hour chaotic streams.

It is the ideal escape getaway, savouring moments on the pathway reaching the desired destination.

Trains are a differing dimension, gradual travel embracing experience realms of the beyond.

Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam with Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail

The epic journey takes a full fourteen days. The pride of Africa trip passes through Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe before reaching Tanzania.

A chance to experience diamond towns, historic villages, game reserves as well as Victoria Falls.

The high point is Great Rift Valley where there are dramatic viaducts, switchbacks and tunnels. There is also a twenty-eight day Cape to Cairo journey every two years.

South Africa – Blue Train Journey

Blue Train-South Africa

The Blue train in South Africa is the most famous and has been dubbed as a  5-star hotel on wheels.

The meals, wine, accommodation with scenery along the 994-mile journey leaves from Pretoria taking off to the motherland of Cape Town takes about twenty-seven hours. This comes with stopovers.

There is also a trip from Pretoria to Durban at certain times during the year. This train journey with exclusive silk lines and bathroom gold fittings, cuisines by top chefs and nature scenes from the window is the ultimate experience in Africa

Namibia’s Desert Express

Desert Express

The Desert Express is a train for tourists between Windhoek and Swakopmund as well as Walvis Bay. There are excursions to the Etosha National Park. The elegant dining room is well equipped and conference facilities are on offer as well.The Desert Express in convenient modern and beats the desert heat.

Nairobi’s Jambo Kenya Deluxe

Jambo Kenya Deluxe

The Jambo Kenya Deluxe is a route between Nairobi and Mombasa. The overnight leisure trip from city to coast, savannah giraffes, zebras and ostriches are spotted while savouring gourmet cuisine and fine wines.  Comfortable sleeping berths epitomizes the deluxe of the journey

Tanzania to Zambia with TAZARA

TAZARA

The Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA):  Kilimanjaro and Mukuba express are passenger trains operating on TAZARA.  It runs for 1860km between Dar Es Salaam and Zambia
Running a few times each week, the journey takes approximately two days and nights. This is for intrepid travellers with little concern for luxury or punctuality. The spectacular scenery makes up for delays and service

 Tunisia’s ‘Lezade Rouge’

Lezarp Rouge

This antique  ‘Lezade Rouge’ tourist train,  runs daily into Atlas mountains foothills in the south of Tunisia.It passes through mining countries on the route from Metlaoui to Redeyef with periodic views. The journey is an hour long in each direction

South Africa’s Shosholoza Meyl

Shosholoza Meyl

An alternative for budget travellers Shosoloza offers intercity journeys between Johannesburg and each major city. The pleasant journey takes the exact same route as luxury trains and costs less than $100. The trains are not elegant but comfortable and save flight hassles between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Zimbabwe Rail

Zimbabwe rail

Travel overnight between Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Rail features the classic 1950s-era British coaches with interiors of wooden panels. Elephants and baboons wander around in great sightings

 Mauritania’s Train du Desert

Mysterious Mauritiana unravels in a   2 story passenger carriage, Train du Desert. Guest spend time at excursion spots like  Chinguetti , the holy city the Azougui oasis, Ben Amira rock monolith.

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The Soul of Township Tours in South Africa

The Tales of South African Townships

Township in South Africa reflects the celebration of joy in human rights, freedom, justice and reconciliation. From the experience of shebeens to visits with sangomas.

A township visit is an emotional and unique sensory experience that is abuzz with the vivid social culture. Each township tells a story of its own about how it was established, the struggle through the years of apartheid and the current age it has evolved into.

South African townships have an irresistible soul and vibe that will welcome you and give you the experience of a lifetime!

Alex  –  “Township of Rhythm”

Alexandra Township -Gauteng

Alexandra is affectionately known as ‘Alex’, it is  Gauteng’s oldest township. Initially, it was established as a residential area. This was in 1905 by a white farmer. He aimed for a white suburb and named it after his wife. In 1912 it was transformed into a native township. Black people were allowed land ownership.

In 1913 the land act dissolved land ownership rights by blacks. Alexandra continues in migration as it was close in proximity to the employment opportunities in Johannesburg.

‘Alex’ has an interesting and turbulent and past, a fascinating present, and a very promising future.  It also has it’s own community radio and TV station.

Alex is the hub of culture, root culture is rhythm and vibe.  Alex has been home to luminaries like Hugh Masekela, a renowned jazz maestro as well as Nelson Mandela.

Popular culture like theaters in the townships was a dynamic force which gave life and hopes to the people, it’s a dynamic force that gave hope.

A township tour will give assess to the best shebeens in where you can quench your thirst on the tradition umqombothi, an African beer that is home-brewed, and taste amazing local delicacies.

You can also stock up on arts and crafts from street vendors, curios and explore the world colorful traditional medicine world.

The outdoor markets, the St Hulbert Catholic church, Mandela Yard Precinct and traditional healers create a fascinating new and old blend making Alex a fascinating township tour.

A Visit to  the iconic township of Soweto

Soweto is the fifth most popular destination for overseas visitors to the Gauteng province. It’s ‘Jozi’s’ tourism drawcard.  And one of the biggest attractions is the Mandela Museum, in Vilakazi Street.  The former four-roomed home of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a deeply moving experience, that reminds us of our past, and gives us hope for the future.

The Hector Pieterson Memorial is three blocks from where 13-year-old Hector was shot and died on 16 June 1976, the day when students in Soweto marched against the repressive imposition of  the Afrikaans language in schools

Soweto tours start with,  Hector Pieterson Museum and the Regina Mundi church.No trip to Soweto in Johannesburg is complete without a visit to Regina Mundi, the largest Catholic Church in the most popular Soweto.

It’s been a spiritual haven for thousands of Sowetans, it has also played a pivotal role in the township’s history of resistance against apartheid.

The Ubuntu Kraal is a collection of straw-roofed rondavels that form a homestead, popular as a wedding and conference venue.

Many will also be interested in the Soweto  Festival. The Soweto Festival is held annually

Soweto Festival

The venue is the magnificent Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, the site of the signing of the historic Freedom Charter by anti-apartheid organizations in 1955.

This is the ideal place for the people of Soweto to congregate over Heritage weekend as the Square is a national monument.

The Soweto Festival centers around an exhibition and day-long entertainment events.

 The  capturing visit to Katlehong

Katlehong

The Katlehong township area smoldered with political tension in the early 1990s and the name was associated with violent protests and a low-level civil war amongst factions.

This, however, is a thing of the past and in some way seems to make the Art Centre even more of an achievement for being there. Some of the most exquisite examples of ethnic artwork are housed here and the center seems to have been as influenced by the emotional turmoil of the township as its inhabitants once were.

 

Welcome to motherland Africa! Welcome to South Africa!