A Guide to Experiencing the Culture of Southern Africa

by Sandy Salle on February 5, 2015

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Have you made it your life’s mission to visit all seven continents? If you haven’t checked Africa off your visited-destinations list yet, it’s time to start planning the ultimate cultural adventure through this inspirational and mysterious continent.

If you love to explore new cultures, interact with locals, soak in new surroundings, try exciting cuisines, and visit celebrated heritage sites, here are a few must-visit places and must-do activities to incorporate into your African vacation itinerary:

A Visit to Cape Town: Known as a colorful cultural melting pot, Cape Town is rich with sinfully delicious traditional cuisine, a vast array of African music, sensational local wines, and diverse artwork. And as you explore all of these wonderful elements of Cape Town, you’ll undoubtedly find inspiration along the way, delighting in curious conversations with locals and absorbing the rich South African culture.

You might also enjoy some of the many tours offered in and around Cape Town, including city tours, peninsula tours, AWOL bicycle tours, and Cape Malay cooking tours—to name a few.

Many of the most popular private tours pass through Camps Bay, Simons Bay, and Hout Bay, which are beautiful little villages located along the coastline of Cape Town. They also stop at the famous Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, which were used as part of the Spice Routes for Europeans. AWOL bicycle tours are another great way to soak in these historical and cultural destinations. When you embark on one of these bicycle tours, you’ll learn about the unique elements of Cape Town and its historical sites. Not to mention, all profits made by AWOL are generated back into the local economy to spur sustainable growth.

Another excellent cultural tour is the Cape Malay cooking tour, which first brings you through a historical tour of the Cape Malay Quarter and is followed by an afternoon in a local community member’s home. During this afternoon, you’ll cook up traditional Cape Malay favorites and develop a rare insight into local home life and cooking.

Interactive Bushwalks: With ancient roots dating back thousands of years ago, the Sans Bushmen tribe is one of the world’s most captivating cultures. Today, travelers can visit local Sans villages in Botswana and Namibia and interact with the Sans tribesmen, learning about their lifestyle and culture, and discovering their fascinating language, which consists of a series of click sounds.

After a visit to a local Sans village, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on an interactive bushwalk with a Sans tribe member where he’ll introduce you to traditional hunting and tracking methods. Your Sans guide will also share is extensive knowledge about the secrets of the land, as well as traditional survival skills, tribal weaponry, and the laws of nature. This is an opportunity that very few in this world will ever experience.

Uthando’s Philanthropic Cultural Tours: Enjoy a personalized half day or full day philanthropic cultural tour and visit some of the Uthando South Africa organization’s many community projects.

Uthando South Africa is a non-profit organization dedicated to lending a hand to impoverished communities and creating projects that help locals live happier and healthier lives. Some of the projects you can visit include HappyFeet Gumboot Dancers, which is a project for kids that offers dance and soccer lessons, as well as instruction in life skills; Volcano Arts Project, which is a local theater project that focuses on local issues through the arts; and Khayelitsha Special School, which is a school for mentally and physically disabled children. There are many other projects, but these are just a few! You may choose to visit whichever Uthando projects you wish as their itineraries are tailor-made to fit your preferences.

All of the tours are interactive and enable visitors to meet and talk with local children and adults and learn about their daily lives. This is by far one of the most rewarding and culturally enriching experiences to be had in southern Africa.

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