Hanging with South Africans

28 September 2005

People upliftment projects, also known as community tourism projects, can be found all over South Africa. If you’re in the mood for an authentic South African experience, join in the fun – you may also make new friends along the way.

Community tourism is about getting to know the country through the eyes of those who live here. Whether you’re drinking local beer at a village shebeen or horse-riding along a Wild Coast beach, you’re guaranteed the real deal.

You can discover ancient Setswana astronomy through the lens of a grandmother with an intimate knowledge of the ancient traditions. And what about being taught to cook line fish the traditional way by the fishing community in Kalk Bay?

Travel is always richer when one comes into contact with real, everyday people; that’s what community tourism offers. These are experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge, a new establishment in Madikwe Game Reserve in North West, is wholly owned by the Balete tribe, who live on just the other side of the reserve fence.

Developed over five years, the lodge is a joint venture between the tribe and the Nature Workshop, the operating company.

Lying in a Big Five reserve, Buffalo Ridge Lodge has eight suites with stunning views of ravines, plains and pure African bushveld, each with its own viewing deck.

Game rangers are all from the local village of Lekgophung. Community members are being trained to fully manage the lodge and run a world-class tourism enterprise.

Thonga Beach Lodge Thonga Beach Lodge
Thonga Beach Lodge in Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal, is another community enterprise aimed at the high-end traveller. Exclusive in the extreme – you can only get there by 4×4 vehicle – Thonga Beach Lodge lies on one of the most gloriously private beaches in South Africa.

The local Mabibi community owns 70% of the lodge. Profits are earmarked for higher education of young people in the area as well as building schools and clinics. The lodge mostly employs locals, with skills training part of the deal.

Set above a secluded bay, Thonga Beach Lodge is nestled into a coastal dune forest with sweeping views of the beach below. The 22 thatched bush suites provide guests with complete privacy and were carefully constructed to ensure minimal impact on the environment. The lodge offers luxurious accommodation, mouth-watering meals and one of the best dive sites in the South Africa.

Masakala Traditional Guesthouse Masakala Traditional Guesthouse
Masakala Traditional Guesthouse, lying on the border of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, offers rooms built in the authentic rondavel (round-shaped) architecture used by the local people. It offers indigenous African food, made by local women from recipes that exist only in their heads.

It offers spectacular views of the southern Drakensberg, as well as walking tours to rare San rock art sites, bird watching, hiking and pony rides. The area has thriving arts and crafts projects, where you can meet and learn from local artists.

Masakala is one of the properties selected and promoted by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. This organisation recognises establishments that are sustainable in benefits to the local communities.

Eskom Due South Craft Route Due South Craft Route
If you’re after community arts and crafts, then visit the Eskom Due South Craft Route. The site provides a wide-angled view of the arts and crafts available in the country, and is also invaluable in providing information to off-the-beaten track places in South Africa.

Exclusively showcasing outstanding capabilities of South African crafters, the site aims to identify and promote the diversity of skills and products offered by South African craftsmen and women.

Source: South African Tourism