Tips: Contact with locals while travelling in South Africa
The best thing about travelling is meeting the locals. What does their life look like, how do they think about certain things, what are their customs and traditions? Talking to local people may seem difficult, but it does not have to be at all. Are you travelling through South Africa? Nina, the local travel specialist at Better Places Travel in South Africa, has some practical tips to help you easily get to know the South Africans.
Be spontaneous and open
“South Africans are very open and curious,” says Nina. “They like sharing their thoughts and opinions and have a lot of interest in foreigners. That makes it very easy to chat with a local, because nine out of ten people will instantly respond. Everything depends on your own attitude. If you present yourself with a spontaneous and open attitude, then that’s what you’ll get back. It is easy to start a conversation. For example, you could give someone a compliment on his hair or clothes, or just start talking about soccer. That will immediately break the ice and it will guarantee you a nice conversation.”
Stay in a homestay in South Africa
Homestays are becoming more and more popular in South Africa, and this is a fun way to get acquainted with the lives of an ordinary South African family. There are homestays across the country and every stay is different. Nina: “In the township Gugulethu in Cape Town you can stay at Mama Noks for example. Not only is this a special experience, but you will also be helping with the development of this district. You can help Mama Noks prepare a traditional dinner and you will sleep in a special guest room. In general, homestays in South Africa are quite basic, but you can always count on getting the most beautiful room in the house. South Africans think it’s important that the guests get the best, which is the norm in the South African culture.”
Do an excursion with a local guide
An excursion with a local guide is recommended if you want to learn more about South Africa. The guide can tell you all about his country and culture and he can easily bring you in touch with other locals. It also helps that you can ask the guide everything which will give you a good idea of how people in South Africa think and live.
Do a cooking workshop
“South Africans are very proud of their cuisine,” says Nina. “which makes it a lot of fun to follow a cooking workshop and learn how to prepare the local dishes. There are workshops throughout the country, including in the colourful Bo-Kaap district of Cape Town. Here you will learn all about the traditional Cape Malay cuisine. You can also be part of the national project Cook-up with Kamamma, where you will have lunch in a township and prepare different dishes together with a kamamma. A kamamma is a woman who carries a child on her back, but who also supports the community. This project is in Stellenbosch and Knysna. This way you will see how the locals live, try local dishes and have the opportunity for conversation with people from the area. Very nice and educational to be a part of.”