I love travel and find it impossible to turn down any invitation involving exploring somewhere new, so when I was recently invited to experience something a little bit different I didn’t hesitate to sign up…
The invitation was to join a group of woman on a 2 day trip to Stellenbosh. The catch was that the campaign was entitled #SoloStellenbosch. So even though we all met up at the start of our first day, that was the last we saw of anyone!
Armed just with a printed out personalised itinerary I headed off to explore the winelands town all on my own!
Fortunately this wasn’t my first experience of travelling alone. I did that way back in 2009 when I took a trip to London and Italy and explored many Italian cities and towns on my ACE! Talk about an experience. Not to mention the fact that I was 3 months pregnant and nauseous as hell. What it proved to me was that I really can do anything… after a few tears shed in various cathedrals of course!
Anyway back to Stellenbosch… knowing I had conquered the fear of facing the world alone before, I headed off fairly confidently that I would be A-OK. As was to be expected Stellenbosch was warm and welcoming of me wherever I went. From winefarms to clothing boutique, world-class restaurants to townships I encountered friendly faces and open arms. Without a doubt the biggest take-home lesson for me from this experience was that travelling alone is far from the lonely experience I had thought it to be (well, it helps to speak the language!!)
Rather being on my own allowed me the opportunity to really engage with the locals in a new and special way. I wanted to know about the wine in more detail, I enjoyed chatting to the sommelier and finding out his back story and why he went into wine despite being born on the opposite side of the country from SA’s wine region. I struck up conversation with the shop assistants and spent an amazing afternoon getting to know someone from a completely different culture to me. It was nothing short of enlightening. And I discovered that being a solo traveller is something I should do more often… for the purely selfish reason that I find out so much about myself in the process!
I’ll be sharing more about each experience I enjoyed in my #SoloStellenbosch itinerary in the coming weeks, but to start I thought I’d share the photos of my afternoon walking around the township of Kayamandi aka “sweet home”.
Located just outside Stellenbosch this is the second oldest township in South Africa. My township guide was Thembi, a registered guide who was born and bred in Kayamandi.
She shared stories about the townships history and culture as we walked the streets, stopping occasionally to chat to locals coming home from work or playing games on the side of the road.
We popped in to one of the road side shacks for a chat about local life, weaved out way between corrugated iron sheet, passed the local creche and various spaza shops. Everywhere I went I felt like a real-life celebrity with the call of what felt like a hundred children following me everywhere “Teacher, teacher” all desperate to pose for a photo or 2!
We met local entrepreneurs and artists selling their jewellery creations and even a look at the local’s supper of “smileys” being prepared on the braai… I’ll let you scroll down to see what they are!!
My afternoon in Kayamandi was certainly one I won’t forget. I loved spending the time with Thembi who was a real livewire and clearly enjoyed showing me around her home town and introducing me to her friends. Even though it was just Thembi and I strolling the streets in an area I usually would avoid as a South Africa I didn’t feel unsafe once. Thembi was really well connected and respected which made me feel at ease. She was also really helpful in pointing out people or places I shouldn’t photograph if I didn’t want to get in trouble! It really helped having a local by my side and I wouldn’t recommend doing a tour of a township without one! I would have loved to have a bit longer at the locals homes and next time I’d definitely like to take my kids to get a bit more of a realistic view of the country in which they live… and Kayamandi seems like a great place to do this as it’s definitely got one of the friendliest atmosphere’s around… well in terms of the limited township experiences I have had!
Pin this post for future reference when planning your next visit to Stellenbosch, South Africa
Masitandane Road, Stellenbosch
Tel: 072 891 2021