AWOL Tours

AWOL’s Bicycle Township Tour in Cape Town

Mon - Sun | 09:00 - 20:00 on +27 (0)832346428
 
+27 (0)21 4183803 (till 6 pm)
V&A WaterfrontTourism Information Centre | Dock Road | Cape Town
www.awoltours.co.za
info@awoltours.co.za
awol.tours
AWOLTours
AWOL Tours

AWOL’s Bicycle Township Tour in Cape Town

AWOL’s extraordinary two-wheeled trip lets you experience life in a vibrant Mother City settlement

Are you looking for a unique township tour in Cape Town? Have you ever wondered what happens at a township church service or what an African traditional healer actually does?



You’re not alone, and to answer these questions and many others, AWOL’s founding member and Director, Sally Petersen, started bicycle tours in Noordhoek’s township of Masiphumelele on the Cape Peninsula to provide guests with the unique opportunity to interact with the local community and learn more about Xhosa customs, from a bicycle seat. A responsible tourism initiative in conjunction with the Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN), the award-winning tour promotes the use of bicycles as a form of low-cost transport and as a way to facilitate access to employment and education for locals. 

On the day I join the excursion, our tour group is nice and small – my partner and I, plus a family of four, start the morning by chatting away to our friendly guide, Zwai, as we make our way along Masiphumelele’s dirt tracks to the bicycle shop, a space stocked with imported, second-hand bikes and operated by local residents. One of the first things I notice is a striking mural, which graces the walls of one of the containers. “This was painted by the children,” Zwai explains proudly.

In fact, all of these containers make up an entire youth complex comprised of a sewing centre, a small church, an arts and crafts centre and the bicycle shop itself. 

We are each handed sublime, old-fashioned bikes with long, curved handle bars that you have to pedal backwards to brake. After a rusty start (it’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike!), we are soon cycling through the streets of Masiphumelele with nothing to separate us from the shacks, houses, dirt tracks and local people. I already feel part of the experience. 

I don’t believe in God, but I’m smiling. I can’t help it 

Our first stop is a Sunday church service, and we can hear the rumble of gospel beckoning from within. We take a seat at the back and observe throngs of people of all ages in joyous song, dancing and clapping with such energy. When the church leader orders everybody to shake hands with or hug the person next to them, we are no longer voyeurs, but have folded into this scene. The congregation’s members are shaking us by the hand and offering warm embraces. “I know you,” one woman says to me, “You have a familiar face.” I don’t believe in God, but I’m smiling. I can’t help it. I glance around and the rest of the tour group is too. 



If doctors can’t heal your ailments, an African traditional healer can

Our second stop in the township of Masiphumelele is the home of a sangoma (an African traditional healer).

This is where you come if doctors can’t heal your ailment – it doesn’t matter whether your illness is physical, emotional or spiritual. We sit down on the wooden benches that populate the low-lit, bare room. A woman sits in a corner with a drum, and a young traditional healer emerges (the traditional healer’s daughter). “Welcome,” she says.

She is wearing an intricate headdress with tassels, which she tells me took a full day to make. Her ancestors spoke to her and told her to make the headdress in the colours of red, blue and white. It is these beads that let her know when someone is coming, and thanks to her ancestors, she already knows what is wrong with a person before they tell her. The bells on her feet act as a drum when she dances to evoke her ancestors.  

Masiphumelele: ‘We shall succeed’


Our third and final stop is Charlotte’s Place – a small, but cosy shack that Charlotte shares with her granddaughter, Tamika. We huddle in and sit in her living room, sipping on welcome cups of tea and nibbling on delicious chunks of vetkoek (a deep-fried roll). Charlotte recalls her childhood: her mother was a domestic worker for an Israeli family in the wealthy Cape Town suburb of Tamboerskloof, so Charlotte grew up in a large house, dining on mussels and herring, and playing with children from a local boarding school. When the Israeli family left, they bought Charlotte’s family a house in Mitchells Plain to thank them for their hard work.

Charlotte explains how now, in Masiphumelele, she faces many hardships. But despite everything, she would never leave because she loves her community. It’s a community that shares, a community that demands better education for all and a community that campaigns to empower its women. In 2008, Masiphumelele was even awarded the annual Reconciliation Award from the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in recognition of its efforts to live in peace with foreigners and resist violence.

And only after a short two-wheeled tour through this vibrant area I can understand her wishes. Masiphumelele is truly an incredible place, and  so before you think of typing ‘Xhosa customs’ into Wikipedia or driving with your camera pressed against the glass of an air-conditioned bus, think of taking a bicycle tour here instead. This great day tour is fully interactive and opens your eyes to age-old Xhosa customs and the township spirit of togetherness. It’s a unique opportunity to say: ‘I was there’. 

Booking an AWOL Bicycle Township Tour

Bicycle tours in Masiphumelele commence every day of the week, throughout the year.  

Prices valid from the 1st Nov 2016 to 31st Oct 2017:

  • Half-day Township tour is from R950 per person, min two, excluding transport.
  • Half-day tour including transport is R1850 per person, min two, including transport.

All tours are private, so you get a personal experience and are not part of a huge group. You can either drive to Noordhoek yourself, or AWOL tours will organise a pick-up for an additional R400 per person. The tours include a township guide for a half day, a driver guide for a full day, old-fashioned Dutch bicycles, a church visit (on Sundays only, replaced by art classes at Masivelani crèche during the week), drumming and dancing by a traditional healer, an optional braai at Nongoloza’s Butchery and the chance to donate towards Masivelani crèche, for the betterment of their facilities.

AWOL tours offer a vast variety of expeditions and adventures that vary in price. For more info you can visit www.awoltours.co.za.  Bookings and payments can be made online via a safe and secure payment service on AWOL’s website. 

By Lisa Nevitt

---

Want to know more about the cycling and hiking expert?  Read more about AWOL's Peninsula Cycling Tour and City Cycling Trip offering.

---

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us on LinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City

Cape Town Events Calendar
December 2019
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

african_relish_2019An Affordable Summer Food Adventure In ...

2 two nights accommodations, a half-day cooking course with lunch or dinner, and a recipe ...

aroundaboutnew3Season Specials And More With ...

From R200 vouchers and free upgrades, drive away with more value adds

pLAYTOPIACape Town’s Best Gaming Fest Is Back ...

Playtopia now offers a B2B avenue for developer entrepreneurs

Tango festIt Takes Two To Teach Tango

Learn moves from the experts and party like an Argentinian dancer

William_Kentridge_2A Monumental Exhibition At The Norval ...

The iconic South African artist’s largest exhibition in Africa in over a decade

Wavescape Surf Film Festival CliftonGather Your Beaches For Art, Movies and ...

Wavescape 2019: a month of beach cleanups, fundraisers and movie nights

Land_RewovenSee This Fascinating Interpretation of ...

Artist MJ Lourens pairs his modern landscapes with Pierneef’s, plus there’s cheese ...

TheChef'sStudio_Matt_ManningTeambuilding Activities You’ll ...

16 teambuilding activities and why they work

blowfish_new_7R99 Calamari and Prawns Combo Every ...

And drink in the view of Table Mountain across the bay

cape_quarter_01Catch These Weekly Deals at Cape Quarter

From R18 coffee to half-price burgers

rotterdam_restaurantFarm Stay Special: Romantic Weekend Away

Idyllic Swellendam farm accommodation with a special game drive and picnic amongst the ...

Kinky BootsSmash-Hit Kinky Boots Extended To 2020 ...

With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award

fpl_5Get Moving in Functional Training Class

Improve your fitness, strength and overall functionality with the Functional Performance ...

ac_marriott_musicHappy Hour and Live Music Every ...

Get a discount on drinks and tapas before local musicians step up to entertain you

aroundaboutnew1Get a Free Stay in Scarborough With ...

Just use the promo code when booking a 4X4 and camping equipment

ground_art_caffeSomething New this First Thursday: Art, ...

A coffee-fuelled micro-gallery for upcoming artists with fresh, free-range and organic ...

sundoo2019_4South-Indian Tapas and Thalis For a ...

Vegan options, halaal-friendly, casual but beautifully decorated: Sundoo South Indian ...

the41_music3Romantic Beach Vibe and Live Music At ...

Live Thursdays: Come in your slops to this chic Camps Bay spot for great food and live ...

cartelcafe6Lunch Sorted: A Midweek Buffet At The ...

Fill up your plate and tuck into a tasty lunch spread every Wednesday and Thursday: From ...

WSDC Shark Jumping 4White Shark Diving Company’s Shark ...

See a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle with shark experts in Gansbaai

Barrs7Common Summer Ailments And Their ...

What most people ask about sunscreen, hay fever, runny tummy, malaria meds and ...

asamisLove Sushi? Asami's Has The Best ...

Get two sushi plates, pay for one, plus women also get 50% off on all cocktails on ...

galileo_kirstGet Comfy at Kirstenbosch Movie Nights ...

Great films, fabulous scenery, delicious food and cosy seats – look forward to a night ...

Coco Safar Dinner NEW 2Indulge In Dinner and Dessert At Coco ...

And now they have added couture alcoholic cocktails to the menu at this all-day cafe

Waterworld Strand Waterpark Cape TownFree Putt-Putt Special at Waterworld ...

False Bay’s finest family fun zone is offering a complimentary game of mini golf with ...

Masala dosaCook Traditional Indian Food on Long ...

Learn a few tips and tricks to make authentic Indian dishes

tjing_momjii_3Next-Level Dining At Tjing Tjing Momiji

Take your taste buds on a tour of Japan

pepperclubPepper Club Hotel Movie and Dinner

Movies and Dinner – the perfect couple…

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips