Experience Khayelitsha by bike

7 November 2014

Words: Anne Schlegel│Photos: Sarah Reifsteck

When it comes to incredible places to visit, Cape Town ranks right up there. With its beautiful beaches, lush vineyards, the magnificent Table Mountain, quaint seaside villages and so much more, one is spoilt for choice. But if you are looking for something a little different to the ‘usual’ tourist attractions, then the ‘Ubuntu Township Tours – Khayelitsha on Bikes’ might be something for you!

Owner Loyiso Damoyi shares his personal history and tells us lot of interesting facts about the cultural and community life in Khayelitsha, with its clans and the history of the people living there.

Striking a pose with some of the youngsters from the township we met.

Owner Loyiso Damoyi now offers you the chance to tour the township of Khayelitsha from the saddle of a bike. But it is more than just a bike tour; it is an educational and personal experience of the township's unique culture and community, first-hand insights you are rarely exposed to when travelling through a country.

While visiting South Africa in September, I had the opportunity to go on one of Loyiso’s tours. It started at the Khayelitsha Lookout Hill, with breathtaking views over Khayelitsha, and included a guided tour through the Khayelitsha Museum.

Prior to the start of the tour, Loyiso introduced himself and told us his incredible life story. Growing up in Khayelitsha with a history of gang violence in his youth, he became part of a leader-development programme, which was instrumental in changing the course of his life. After participating in this programme, he started a successful dance academy, cleaning business and the township bike tour ‘Ubuntu Township Tours – Khayelitsha on Bikes’.

Besides sharing his personal history, he also provided us with a lot of interesting facts about the cultural and community life in Khayelitsha, with its clans and the history of the people living there.

From the museum, we walked across to the Hub Space, a business hub that offers office space, a networking environment and learning and collaborating opportunities for entrepreneurs from Khayelitsha, and is where a lot of the successful local startups are developed. Whilst here, we had a quick lesson in isiXhosa to learn the basic phrases needed to communicate with the people we would meet on our bike tour. After this, we saddled up and hit the road.

We rode through the streets of Khayelitsha at a pace that was gentle enough for the not-so-fit to comfortably keep up and take in the wondrous sights of the local businesses and market places we passed.

Stopping for coffee and a snack at the ‘Department of Coffee', at the Khayelitsha train station, we also got the opportunity to taste the famous 'smiley' (A cooked sheep's head, which is a very popular dish found in the townships. In Soweto you get the same with beef.). It was an experience my taste buds will remember for a long time.

Next up on our tour was the local kindergarten in Loyiso’s neighborhood.

We met his wonderful son and spent some time with the local children, who were super excited to welcome their new playmates. The women at the kindergarten also sold the most beautiful jewelry they had made themselves.

After that, Loyiso showed us his house, as well as that of his mothers, and introduced us to their way of their living and gave us a deeper insight into their culture.

Whilst in the neighborhood, we also got to meet some girls who were working on another of Loyiso's projects; the ‘Africa Jam Youth Centre Khayelitsha’. They entertained us with a fantastic, vibrant dance show and then showed us some of their dance moves, where we proved that Europeans have no rhythm in their blood.

Loyisa's dance academy.

With some kids from the local kindergarten in Loyiso’s neighborhood.

The tour ended with a braai, where I had some of the best-tasting food ever.

The tour ended with a trip in a local minibus to a location close to the Lookout Hill, where we had the best-tasting braai food I've ever had in my life.

Overall, this tour is one of the best I have ever been on while travelling through South Africa. I felt safe and it really opened my mind to the African culture here and its people. Khayelitsha is now a place that I will always return to for its great food and friendly people.

If this tour sounds as good to you as it was for me, then check Loyiso’s tour out at www.townshipbiketours.co.za - you won't be disappointed.

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Welcome to the 7 November 2014 issue of DO IT NOW Magazine.