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Bicycle tours offer an insider’s glance into townships.

Gauteng Tourism Authority spokesperson, Barba Gaoganediwe, prepares to cycle through Mamelodi with Tshwane Urban Riders cycling club and a group of local residents.

The best way to experience the rich culture of one of South Africa’s townships is to cycle with the locals, says Gauteng Tourism Authority spokesperson, Barba Gaoganediwe.
“Tourism does not always have to be about fancy hotels and major monuments. When touring the township, it’s about being with the locals, mingling and socialising with them, and a bicycle tour offers tourists the opportunity to do just that.”

By cycling with locals while exploring key historic sites and uncovering interesting titbits of information that they otherwise wouldn’t come across, tourists get a first-hand glimpse of the history of each township, Gaoganediwe explains.

“A modern traveller who wants to spend time with the locals, socialise with them and learn about their day-to-day lives would enjoy a township tour. A bicycle tour through one of South Africa’s townships is truly township tourism at its best.”

Taking township tourism beyond Soweto

The Gauteng Tourism Authority joins a group of locals on a bicycle tour of Ga-Rankuwa, north of Tshwane.

 

After provided the setting for various internationally acclaimed films, townships such as Soweto and Khayelitsha continue to attract tourists looking for a first-hand taste of South Africa’s unique history, but there are many more townships for tourists to enjoy.

The Gauteng Tourism Authority is positioning Tshwane’s township offering in Mamelodi and Ga-Rankuwa, which includes cycle tours through the neighbourhoods, led by a local tour guide.

“I would recommend a bicycle tour through Ga-Rankuwa to tourists looking for a unique township experience because the roads are quiet, the journey is short and the friendly locals often wave at passing tourists.

“Townships like Mamelodi and Ga-Rankuwa in Tshwane may not be as well known as the more famous black townships of Soweto and Alexandra, but they share the same pulsing vitality and some of their struggle history,” Gaoganediwe says.

Ga-Rankuwa, 30km north of Tshwane, bordering North West province, is home to the famous Hash Tag Meat Café. The popular restaurant and bar often hosts brand activations, live music sessions and pop-up markets to showcase up-and-coming local brands.

Cyclists make a pit stop at the former house of struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu in Mamelodi.

Meanwhile, bicycle rides through Mamelodi offer stunning scenery, with colourful houses, clean streets and beautiful mountains in the background. The township has a long and painful history of resistance to apartheid and there are various sites in the township that commemorate this, such as the Solomon Mahlangu Square, comprising a photo gallery, memorial pathways, an amphitheatre and a giant statue of apartheid struggle hero, Solomon Mahlangu, in full combat uniform.

Mamelodi was created by the apartheid government in 1953 about 20km east of the City of Tshwane (Pretoria) with just a handful of houses, and today it is home to hundreds of thousands of people. The township is currently undergoing a massive upgrade programme to develop a social integration and mobility hub with a large shopping centre, a medical centre and space for 1 400 taxis and 600 traders.

Visitors to Mamelodi can also take a tour through the house where Solomon Mahlangu grew up, as well as the house that was recently built for his family by the South African government.

Bicycle tours offer an insider’s glance into townships.

 

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ABOUT AMANDA SAMPAIO

Amanda Sampaio

A bit about me: I am Rhodesian born, grew up in Zululand, South Africa. Post matriculation, I studied a 3 year Travel & Tourism National Diploma; I then spent 7.5 years (during the mid-90’s) working in various operational roles for SAA at the old Durban Airport; My husband, son & I then moved to the UK and lived in south-west London (Worcester Park) for 10.5 years – I worked for 3.5 years in Local Government (at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council) and then for 7 years for QANTAS as part of the Cabin Crew Ground Management Team based at Heathrow and later with Qantas Corporate Sales based in their London Hammersmith office. My family and I have been back in South Africa for almost 3 years now (having missed too much of our family, SA sunshine and braai’s) and during our time back, we are also delighted to have welcomed our 17 month old baby girl into our family! Travel is definitely my passion and is in my ‘blood’ as I am firmly back in the travel seat with my current role within Sales and Marketing at iGo Travel and look after this for our newly launched brand ‘iGO Africa’.