To visit one of South Africa’s cultural villages is to get a sneak peek into the wonders and deep cultures of the African people. These villages are set up to invite visitors to see the traditional way of life of specific groups or tribes, including their cuisine, customs, rituals, songs, dance and family structure.
These villages are as authentic as it gets and allow the visitors to interact with local folk, taste the food, watch the musical performances and learn more about the traditions of the people. These cultures and customs extend back many generations, sometimes even centuries, and play an integral role in the South Africa of today.
Photograph: The !Khwa ttu San Culture Centre in Yzerfontein, Western Cape
They support the decision-makers and creative inspirations of our modern-day Rainbow Nation. For this reason, tourists to the country and those that live here alike will enjoy getting to know about the various influences to our identity. The interactive nature is great, as it gets everyone, young and old, involved in a hands-on way.
These cultural villages are also special for their increasing rarity. As more and more people move into urban centres, the rural lifestyle is gradually being replaced. This does, to some extent, imply that the culture is becoming slightly diluted in major urban epicentres. Therefore, the best place in which to immerse yourself into the authentic cultures of this multi-faceted country is in these preserved cultural villages.
Some of the best cultural villages in South Africa include:
The !Khwa ttu San Culture Centre (Western Cape)
the San are an ancient group of hunter-gatherers and forefathers to many South Africans. This centre provides walks guided by San trackers and a visit to a herbalist.
The Shangana Cultural Village (Mpumalanga)
Zulu and Tsonga cultures converge in this lively attraction.
The Basotho Cultural Village (Free State)
this mountain-based village is not only beautiful, but fascinating too. Experience the lives of royal Basotho families here.
The Dumazulu Cultural Village (KwaZulu-Natal)
the rich culture of the Zulu nation is celebrated at this popular village. Watch spear throwing and stick fighting, or learn to make a clay pot.
Riemvasmaak (Northern Cape)
this village offers an especially hands-on experience as visitors get to engage in a very personal way with the semi-nomadic Nama farmers.
Cata Village (Eastern Cape)
visit this Xhosa village to find out all about the daily goings on and experience the warm hospitality for which these people are so well known.
Taking a guided tour of these villages is essential, as the guide is able to enlarge on the experience, informing you of the history and culture of each specific attraction. Some villages also offer overnight accommodation and restaurants, inviting tourists to be their personal guests.
Photograph: The Dumazulu Cultural Village near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Other Cultural Villages you might find interesting:
Useful Planning Pages:
- Accommodation South Africa
- Things to Do in South Africa
- South Africa’s Tourist Attractions
- South Africa’s Languages and Culture