Image to the left of a Zulu bride, taken from the National Geographic website
Unfortunately, it’s quite rare to experience an authentic culture that has been untouched by the Western world and modernism. But in Africa, travelers have the unique and extremely rare ability to interact with local tribesmen who have reinforced their customs and traditions for centuries and who have remained shielded from the touch of modern society.
Below are some of our favorite cultural activities to experience while on an African safari vacation in South Africa:
Zulu Cultural Evening in KwaZulu-Natal: During this exclusive and highly enriching experience, you’ll be able to immerse yourself into the traditional Zulu culture and develop an understanding for the everyday lives of the Zulu people.
During your night of Zulu culture, you’ll observe the Zulu people’s unique language—which includes a series of click sounds (among other phrases and sounds)—social structure within each Zulu home, beautiful dance rituals, attire for the tribes-people, as well as traditional marriage customs. You’ll also observe how the Zulu people prepare food and brew beer from their home, traditional healing methods from the inyanga (the healer of the village), and so much more.
You’ll also be introduced to the sangoma (spirit healer) who has the ability to forsee into the future, during Zulu rituals. During these rituals, the sangoma will use roots and herbs, as well as snake skins and animal parts to perform his future telling.
When your night is over, make sure to purchase a beaded souvenir. These souvenirs express a variety of different emotions, including love, grief, prosperity, etc., depending on the color of bead.
Lesedi Cultural Village: Imagine being able to interact with the various tribes-people of Africa, all in one place. At Lesedi Cultural Village in the Broederstroom bushveld, just outside of Johannesburg, you can do just that!
Established in 1993, this unique village has representatives who live at the village and have come from a variety of unique tribes found throughout South Africa. Here, the representatives authentically portray their history and culture, illustrating what it’s like to live within that specific tribe. The tribesmen and women who live at Lesedi dedicate their days to educating and informing travelers and visitors on the important cultural traditions and shaping history that has affected their tribe.
Image to the right of the Xhosa village at Lesedi Cultural Village, taken from the Lesedi Cultural Village website
Upon arrival at Lesedi, cheerful tribesmen and women with traditional music, singing, and world-renowned African hospitality welcome guests. Visitors can then explore five unique homesteads, including Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho, and Ndebele. During these explorations, travelers can witness how these tribes operate on a daily basis and immerse themselves into the traditional customs of these tribes. Visitors can embark on set cultural tours to experience the homestead village, or, they can stay over at the comfortable Lesedi Lodge to live among these tribes.
Qolweni Cultural Tour: Nestled within the Tsitsikamma Mountains of the Eastern Cape is the Qolweni community. Here, you can experience a highly rewarding cultural tour through the community and learn from the locals about the Xhosa tribe history, traditional customs, and fascinating culture. During your tour through the community, you will also likely hear the beautiful voices of the Xhosa children as they welcome you in song and uplifting spirit. You’ll also be able to tour the local market to see where villagers buy their goods and what types of materials they use for cooking and everyday life. Along the way, you’ll visit with locals to tour their homes before sitting down to enjoy the Umthombo Theatre Group perform traditional dances and songs.