One of our all-time favourite Cape Town experiences in Cape Town is touring Khayelitsha, with Khayelitsha tours. This is an article about our experience.
When you think about experiencing Cape Town there is a lot that comes to mind, beaches, Table Mountain, penguins, food, and wine. The list is endless, with so many beautiful things to see and do, do you ever feel like something is missing? I know I did.
Think about it. You’re sitting in the aeroplane about to land in Cape Town, one final approach over the ocean, and the views! Breath-taking views of oceans that crash into mountains, and green vineyards are sprawled across the landscape.
Then you see it. A city within a city, corrugated iron, and wood fenced shacks as far as the eye can see, brown dusty roads, and cables, so many cables and satellite dishes. Khayelitsha is hard to understand, especially for someone looking from the outside. Everything about Khayelitsha is different to the way most tourists visiting Khayelitsha live and experience life. There is beauty in that statement. Knowing there is a world that functions differently from our own, but it functions in its own special way, has a way of opening up our minds. We see life’s beauty through a different set of lenses.
Cape Town Population: Approx. 4.6 million (2020)
Khayelitsha Population: Approx. 2.4 million (2020)
Think about that, half the population of Cape Town lives in Khayelitsha!
I’m not going to sit here and tell you it looks ‘classic pretty’ from the outside or hasn’t had its fair share of issues in the past or current. I will say, everything you know about a Khayelitsha is about to change. At most I would like to change the perception of what beauty means. Beauty is far beyond landscapes, fancy hotels and cars. Beauty lies in people, relationships, and culture.
Back to the story.
There we were, driving down the popular N2 highway (freeway). Myself, Ali, and Fran. All mates, and all connected by the love of storytelling, travel and filmmaking. Ali is a UK-based filmmaker and creative director. We’ve become close mates through travelling and creating films in South Africa, Iceland, Morocco, and Namibia. Fran and I have worked together for the last 4 years, and we have become close friends through our travels. I consider both to be the best in the world when it comes to what they do. Our friendship has grown through our mutual love of travel, curiosity, and storytelling. To put this into context, this specific adventure wasn’t a job or a sponsorship. The 3 of us decided to pay our own way to experience something unique. We wanted a new story; we wanted to smile and fall in love with our trade again. We decided to document our experience in Khayelitsha.
Ali had told me he was visiting Cape Town for 3 weeks; this was his 4th Visit to SA and 3rd to Cape Town. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, Ali had ticked off the entire standard bucket list of the classic things to do in Cape Town.
Somehow, I felt like there was something missing. That’s when I decided to jump on a call to Juma, a local entrepreneur and tour guide in Khayelitsha. I had done 2 tours with Juma previously for Cape Town tourism. Both previous tours impacted me on a deep level. I loved every moment and decided, this was the perfect activity to experience Cape Town in a uniquely authentic way.
The moment you take the Khayelitsha off-ramp, everything changes and when you’re not used to it, it shocks you. The roads are filled with people, taxis, vendors braaiing and selling everything you can imagine.
Houses turn into informal wooden and corrugated iron homes, and there is a buzz of people on the streets. You immediately feel something, in your mind, heart and soul.