If you had the opportunity to explore South Africa, to really see it, be confused by it, fall in love with the good, bad and the ugly, where would you start?
Think of the last trip you took, local or international. Can you truthfully say that you know that city, its people, the food and the music? To truly experience a city, you need to lift its veil and get up close and personal with it. To celebrate Africa Day, and the theme of “the year of nutrition”, here are a few experiences worth checking out.
Company: Honest Travel Experience
Location: Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban
Franck Leyer, founder of Honest Travel Experience, makes it his mission to provide memorable and unique African experiences in South Africa.
He says his company does not offer the average tour and that he has a disdain for the “mass travel tour companies who continuously exploit communities”. Instead tailor-made experiences are on offer.
He says the company’s mission is to create unique African experiences at an affordable price, while being community conscious. It connects travellers to people and places that will show Africa’s beauty and potential. This is done through activities such as bike rides, food and walking tours, e-scooter rides and a nightlife experience.
One of the most popular packages, especially during Africa Month, is the Taste of Africa Experience. The Johannesburg tour is a sample of different African cuisines such as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana and, at the same time, travellers can learn about the history of the neighbourhoods.
As Leyer bluntly puts it, the focus is on the local residents and aims to not offer a “poverty porn” experience. “All the guides are people who live in the neighbourhood and know the culture,” says Leyer.
It also offers discounts and vouchers to locals.
In Cape Town, the tour includes Langa and District Six. District Six, infamously known for when its inhabitants were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. The local guides will tell you about the history of the city while revealing the hidden gems.
For travellers in Durban, visitors can explore the city centre and get an opportunity to volunteer on urban farming and human rights projects.
For more information go to https://www.honesttravelexperience.com/
Company: Yeoville Dinner Club
Location: 24 Rockey Street, Yeoville, Johannesburg
Sanza Sandile, a chef and storyteller, is the mastermind behind Yeoville Dinner Club. It is a culinary experience that sees 16 to 18 people gather around one big table for a Pan-African feast.
The location, a historic building on Rockey Street, is the perfect backdrop for meeting locals. “I use food as the centrepiece to orchestrate a journey through the DRC, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia,” says Sandile.
Although The Yeoville Dinner Club is his brainchild, Sanza says it is through a collaborative effort that he curates these amazing experiences with passionate cooks who want to share a dish and musicians who stop by and end up playing music. These dinners attract people from all over the world.
One of the wonders of the dinner club is there’s no set menu. Guests are encouraged to bring an open mind. Being free of expectations is a necessary ingredient for being immersed in this experience, according to Sandile.
This breaking of rules allows the chef to prepare food from a sense of joy and freedom necessary to produce something special each night. When asked about what kind of food is available, Sandile says: “I’m a kasinomic smuggler, taking all the famous dishes from all around the continent that I can learn from.” He says the Pan-African feast is mainly vegetarian and they ferment their own masese and marula drinks.
Sandile expresses a slight annoyance about the emphasis on Africa Day. “We cannot minimise our lives to a particular day or month. I live in Yeoville, it’s an African life every day, I don’t want to romanticise Africa,” he says.
But he also admits that he understands the significance of the day and the need to celebrate Africa. Sandile’s passion for Yeoville and the continent echoes as he speaks about the neighbourhood renaming streets Peter Makurube and Arabi Mocheke streets. “They are the pathfinders in the Pan-African spirit that Yeoville represents.”
To make a booking call or WhatsApp +27 83 447 4235.