Situated south of the Great Karoo in the valley surrounded by the Groot Swartberg, Outeniqua and Kammanassie mountains, along the Garden Route, Bongolethu township is only a few minutes away from the town of Oudtshoorn, where the Klein Karoo Festival is held annually.
Township tourism and its spin-offs are intended to grow in Bongolethu to the benefit of the broader community. Besides the post boxes, decorated houses, art galleries and craft workshops around Bongolethu, other craft workshops along the route are in different stages of development. as are bed and breakfast (ikhaya) establishments, accredited site and tour guides, transport services to ferry tourists to and from Bongolethu, a Xhosa cultural village, and township music entertainment spots.
Reasons to visit
Whether one calls it a spaza or a tuck shop, this is a small, informal shop, found in most of the townships in South Africa and it’s always worth visiting one to meet locals and get a feel for how the people live here. Spazas came into being during the apartheid period when black people were mainly restricted to living away from the cities and towns where shops were located. This meant that people had to spend time and money travelling to buy what they needed.
This created opportunities for many to become entrepreneurs. By buying basic items in bulk from town and selling them at a profit in the townships, these people made a living. Items sold at spazas are mainly small, grocery items such as bread, cooking oil, tinned food, sugar, salt and sweets. Spazas are usually started in a house and as demand grows the owner extends the house to expand the service. Big companies such as Coca-Cola realised the potential of these businesses and the role they play in township life, so now every spaza shop has a distinctive Coke sign.
Directions to Bongolethu in Oudtshoorn
From George – take the N12 north via the Outeniqua pass – distance 60km
From Beaufort West – take the N12 south – distance is about 200km
From Cape Town – take the N1 until you reach Worcester, then the R60 towards Montague and join the R62 all the way to Oudtshoorn. The distance from Cape Town is just less than 500km. Once in Oudtshoorn take the N12 north for about 2km and turn into Bridgeton, passing through it for about half a kilometre until you reach Bongolethu.