HIT THE STREETS
The soul of Africa is rarely found in a chic hotel lobby or inside the walls of a tour bus. No, it’s out on the noisy, dusty, vibrant streets. It’s always worth ticking off the popular sights in a city, but once you’ve snapped the postcard-pics, lace up your boots and book your spot on one of these top-notch street tours for an insider’s perspective on the quirks and curiosities of African cities.
Cape Town: Street Art
Long-seen as a nuisance in urban areas, a growing (if begrudging) appreciation for street art is taking hold in African cities. Unsurprisingly, some of the finest works are to be found in the creative capital of Africa: Cape Town. Once you’ve admired the contemporary African art at Zeitz MOCAA, head on over to the up-and-coming suburb of Woodstock for the Street Art & Graffiti walk with Anima Tours. From the Woodstock Exchange, owner-guide Massimo Dal Corso leads guests to both well-known and undiscovered examples of the visual poetry that explores the issues facing the city and country today.
Johannesburg: Spicy Fordsburg
Despite the revitalisation of the inner city of Johannesburg, with the likes of Maboneng and the Newtown Precinct breathing new life into the downtown district, few travellers venture into the cosmopolitan suburb of Fordsburg, which is just a few blocks to the west. A walking tour with Past Experiences is the best way to change that, with experienced guide (and trained archaeologist) Jo Buitendach leading the way. A self-confessed “Jo’burg-obsessed” local, Buitendach guides guests on a tour that unpacks the history, culture and edible delights of this traditionally Indian and South Asian suburb. Saturday afternoons are best, which is when the famous Fordsburg Market in full swing.
Maputo: City Skylines
The capital of Mozambique is one of the most charming cities in Africa, from the historic Baixa district to the palm-lined sands of Avenida Marginal. Local company Maputo a Pé offers a range of walking tours unpacking the city, but far and away the most interesting is the one exploring the remarkable architecture of Maputo.
Owner-guide Jane Flood is an expert on the city skyline, and is particularly passionate about the work of the city’s most famous architect: Pancho Guedes. With his passion for African Modernism, Amancio ‘Pancho’ Guedes designed hundreds of buildings across a 30-year career in the mid-1900s, drawing inspiration from the likes of Antoni Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright. This two-hour walking tour adds wonderful insights into a city on the rise.
Kampala: Market Madness
Organised chaos is often a fair description of the bustling streets of Uganda capital city, so bewildered visitors would do well to sign up for the three- or six-hour-long walking tours of the city run by Kampala Walking Tours. Local guides tick off the major sights – the likes of the Ugandan Parliament building, the Kampala Hindu Temple, Lubiri Palace and Uganda National Mosque during the tour – but also give travellers a local’s perspective on the bustling city markets. Food tours, shopping tours and a day-long visit to Jinja, the city closest to the source of the Nile River and a major hub for trekking and river rafting, are also available.
Accra: Discover Jamestown
Jamestown is one of the oldest districts in the Ghanaian capital, with a vibrant present and tragic past. The weekly tours offered by Jamestown Walking Tours take visitors through the streets of this colourful colonial corner of the capital. Wander past fishing villages and bustling markets; admire the Jamestown lighthouse; and discover Ghanaian culture and tradition through local guides. Tour fees (GH₵30/$6,50 per person) also help to support the Jamestown Community Theatre Centre. Tours take place Saturday at 2pm, departing from the lighthouse.