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
September 2020
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

African eagle day toursE-bike your way in and around ...

E-bike between vineyards with stops for wine, cheese, and chocolate truffles

Loch Lynne PicnicBring the kids (and even pets) for a ...

Fresh baguettes, local cheeses, idyllic views, live music and pet-friendly hikes

africamps7AfriCamps: Discover South Africa with ...

From the pet-friendly Stanford Hills to a camp located on a large fishing dam in Limpopo

trail fit sa Discover a new Western Cape hiking ...

Find a secret waterfall or meet sleeping bats in a 150m long cave

Watershed 2Known favourites and new discoveries at ...

825 square-meters of the best in African art, craft, design, and now beauty

flower workshopCelebrate everything floral with a ...

Prepare for a day of wildflower foraging, botanical cocktails and an edible flower feast

CPT philharmonic orchestra The Cape Town Philharmonic is bringing ...

Welcome in Beethoven, Mozart, Gounod and more into your homes

sundown-sessionsPrepare to be blown away by SA’s top ...

A night of psychological illusions and mind-bending tricks

Biscuit MillSay hello to the new Neighbourgoods ...

Fresh produce, handmade jewellery, locally designed clothes and delicious food

UCOOK 1Cook along with top Cape Town chefs and ...

Invite Karen Dudley, Franck Dangereux, and Reuben Riffel into your kitchen in these ...

cape point vineyard 3Enjoy an idyllic weekend walk at Cape ...

Get a 360-degree view of the mountain, the fynbos, the vineyards and the ocean

robin_hoodLunch is sorted at Robin Hood Burger ...

Robin Hood in Kloof Street has basket lunch deals every day

The grill father The Grillfather is back with a hearty ...

Enjoy their 2.8kg pure beef patty and backyard braai vibes

Flea MarketMilnerton Flea Market: a treasure trove ...

From antiques and trinkets to a variety of second-hand items

spring_2Bradwell Spring: Vredehoek’s fresh ...

It’s the second formalised spring water collection point built by the City

spring_1Newlands Spring: Cape Town’s ...

Rules are in place to ensure everyone’s safety

Biscuit MillYour favourite Biscuit Mill vendors are ...

Browse your favourite vendors for food, crafts and clothing at the weekly market

Virtual Vertical KM Series 2Conquer three mountains in 12-weeks in ...

Three mountains, three routes and three races to win in the Virtual Vertical KM Series

Dino_moranDino Moran is bringing you an epic ...

Don’t miss his deep and melodic progressive house magic with stunning visual effects

VW BARONS 2Barons Cape Town VW is open to the ...

Quicker services and courtesy cars for essential workers

Om RevolutionSlow flow mobile yoga with Om Revolution

You don’t have to go to a yoga studio to stay active

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips