Immerse yourself in the traditional culture of the Shangaan people of South Africa. Taste ethnic dishes, experience traditional dance and singing and meet the locals on a visit to Shangana.
South Africa is known for its many vibrant cultures and any holiday in the country should include some aspect of culture. If you are on holiday near Kruger National Park you can visit Shangana, an authentic cultural village. The people who live there are enthusiastic about showing people their cultural traditions. Many consider this visit to be a highlight of their holiday.
During a visit to the village you will have the chance to experience the authentic traditions of the Shangaan. The Shangaan people are related to the Tsonga people. They live in the area between the Drakensberg Mountains and the Kruger National Park.
There are tours conducted throughout the day by an English speaking guide. The guide will be from the village and usually speaks good English. They are very friendly, and are more than willing to answer any questions that you may have. The tour starts at the entrance where there is a market that sells beautifully crafted traditional jewellery that the Chief's wife and daughters make.
Learn About Village Life and Meet the Chief
You go down a fairly steep path to the Chief's house. The guide will then speak about how to pay your respects to the Chief. All around you the rest of the family go about their traditional way of life. One of the women pounds maize, or makes peanut butter the traditional way. Watch how the women craft intricate beadwork creations - maybe even test your own skills at beading.
At the entrance there is a craft shop where you can buy beautifully crafted souvenirs. A great bonus here is that you can often meet the person who crafted the necklace or carving that you want to buy. This village is a community initiative and all the proceeds benefit the local community. By visiting Shangana you are helping support the village - sustainable tourism at its best.
Fear Factor - Do You Have the Courage to Try a Traditional Delicacy?
If you are on an evening tour you can taste traditional delicacies such as fried Maize worms or Crocodile. The main meal is tasty traditional fare, usually chicken - something more familiar that won't have you feeling squeamish. The food is cooked in the traditional manner and even the children should find something that they like.
Dancing to a Different Beat
The real highlight of the evening has to be the entertainment. The show features a range of energetic traditional dance routines, accompanied by drumming and melodious singing. Many of the tribes of Africa have a strong tradition of song and oral storytelling. The high paced routines will leave you feeling breathless as they keep in perfect rhythm.
The performances are often interactive and guests often join in with the song and dance. Pamphlets are handed out with translations so that you can follow the story. The evening often incorporates elements from their many myths and legends. Children are welcomed and can even participate in the fun.
Spend the Night in a Traditional Home
You can also choose to sleep overnight in the village in a guest hut. These are beautifully constructed out of clay and are thatched. You will sleep in the traditional African manner on a mat on the floor. It may not sound glamorous, but is more comfortable than you might think and will allow you to experience how many people throughout Africa live.