The Cape Flats area is unique and offers the visitor a feel for what many call “the heart and soul” of Cape Town. It boasts its own special brand of jazz, language, cuisine and style - a fusion of Western, Indonesian and African influences which visitors would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Music is the lifeblood of the residents of Athlone, Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plain, Gugulethu, Langa and Khayelitsha – and a jazz safari, a drumming session or a gospel meeting on a Sunday morning is an uplifting and soul-satisfying experience.
The people are warm and hospitable and eager to share their stories – there is a strong oral tradition but stories find expression through a variety of art forms. They’re told through poetry, hip-hop dance, drama, art and craft.
Traditional beading, an expression of the Xhosa culture of the townships, in addition to producing incredible works of art, also has its roots in stories and symbols. More modern craft finds expression in recycled bottle tops, wire, can labels and plastic.
The Cape Flats is a vast area and visitors are advised to join a tour group led by expert local guides knowledgeable in local customs, cuisine and culture. Not to be missed is the local cuisine – Cape Malay cooking takes pride of place in many an upmarket restaurant, but it’s the traditional fare in the homes of many residents of the area.
Try bobotie or snoek breyani and when visiting Gugulethu or Khayelitsha, join the locals in a braai (barbecue) before you head off to a shebeen (the local pub). Mzoli's Place in Gugulethu is extremely popular and a Khayelitsha Express Train Tour is also available from Cape Town Station in the city centre.
A number of excellent local tour operators who adhere to responsible tourism principles work closely with the communities and a visit to this area is often a visitor’s most memorable experience.