Khayelitsha is thought to be not only the largest township in South Africa but also the fastest growing. Established in 1985 as part of an apartheid-era law—black residents were forcibly moved to the new township, sometimes violently—Khayelitsha is known today for its entrepreneurial spirit and social-development projects.
For Khayelitsha’s population of more than 390,000 people, living conditions have improved a great deal since the fall of apartheid—it wasn’t too long ago that most residents still lived in shacks and did not have easy access to fresh water. Tourism to Khayelitsha is increasing, with visits to the craft market and township tours on offer.
Guided tours of the township can introduce visitors to the community and some of their innovative development projects, which have included facilitating the development of vegetable gardens and street-art projects, as well as using soccer, surfing, and cycling activities to empower children.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Khayelitsha Township is a must-visit for those who want to understand life in Cape Town.
- There are a number of restaurants in the township offering both traditional and Western food.
- It is possible to stay overnight in the township in a bed-and-breakfast, which can give you even better insight into local life.
How to Get There
Khayelitsha Township is around a 50-minute drive from Cape Town’s city center. However, it is advisable that you visit as part of a guided tour, led by people who know and understand the community. Navigating the township would be difficult to do independently and is not recommended.
When to Get There
Visits to Khayelitsha Township during daylight hours are recommended, and tours are always conducted during the day. Try to book a tour that gives you at least a couple of hours to really get a feel for the place, explore the craft market, and have a bite to eat.
Khayelitsha Craft Market
At St. Michael’s Church in the heart of the township, this craft market is a favorite stop for visitors. You’ll find pottery, beadwork, baskets, paintings, and many other handcrafted items on sale. Some items are made using recycled plastic shopping bags, soft-drink cans, and scrap metal, as well as more traditional beadwork.