Visiting the townships is something that you should definitely do on a visit to anywhere in South Africa. There are several reasons for this: the majority of the South African population live in them, they are in some ways even more culturally alive and diverse than the more affluent parts of the country, and they are as disparate as one town is from another. Some townships are very poor, some middle class, some white, some black, some coloured, some a mixture of all classes, races and backgrounds. So visiting a township doesn’t mean going to look at poor people: it means visiting people in general.
The townships are not unsafe, if you are guided by someone we recommend. Time-wise, you’re looking at a minimum of four hours and up to seven, depending on how far you want to go and how much you want to see. Costs vary considerably too, but a minimum is around R450 per person, up to R900 per person, again dependent on what activities you do on the tour (food, entertainment, etc.) and how far you travel.
With this in mind, we strongly encourage you not to book township tours with commercial tour companies. These companies are not, for all their marketing, really engaged in alleviating the problems that those living in the more poverty-striken townships face and they generally speaking don’t use people who live in the areas that you visit to guide you around them. We would therefore encourage you to use two organizations, Camissa (www.gocamissa.co.za) and also Coffee Beans Routes (www.coffeebeansroutes.com), both of whom are really focused on getting you to engage with the people you visit for genuine reasons. There is also Uthando (www.uthandosa.org), an aggregator organization of several grass roots projects who have their own guides that will take you to each individual project. Have a look at these sites and let us know which you prefer.
www.gocamissa.co.za – personally guided tours of particular areas of the township. Company 100% black owned
www.coffeebeansroutes.co.za – tours linked to your personal interests around a theme. Choose from Jazz Safaris, Hip Hop, Soccer, Township Futures, etc.
www.uthandosa.org – a tour of several social upliftment projects in poorer parts of town. You visit old age homes, kitchen garden workshops, etc.
Make it easy ! Our driver, Chris Hannival, can take you on this trip in his nice shiny BMW for the whole day. He can of course take more but needs to quote separately. Drop us an email to find out more.