It takes a ‘Jurni’ to rediscover the lesser-known tourism gems in South Africa, such as the Nqileni traditional village, located at the Bulungula River mouth in the Eastern Cape.
Situated far from any of the main centres or highways on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, this little village is not easily reachable. But, the dirt road drive over the seemingly never-ending, rolling hills is all part of an experience you definitely will not regret.
“Getting here may not be that easy, but once you arrive it was well worth the trip! The beach is unbelievable, such a hidden gem of the Wild Coast,” one traveller commented on Tripadvisor.
Travellers visiting Nqileni and the Bulungula Lodge can learn the clicks of the Xhosa language and the history behind this colourful community’s many customs and cultural events. Unlike other visits to traditional villages, there are no rehearsed performances and faked celebrations. Instead, travellers take part in the day-to-day lifestyle of this vibrant rural community when the stay at the Bulungula Homestay Initiative.
“Rather than feeling like an outside looking at the Bulungula community and village, I felt like a member of the community,” another traveller mentioned on TripAdvisor, while rating it five stars.
Travellers can explore the forest with a local herbalist and learn about traditional remedies or learn how to cook a traditional Xhosa meal. They can accompany the local fishermen and learn how to fish in the sea or take a leisurely sunset canoe trip on the river.
The local award-winning NGO, the Bulungula Incubator, is also definitely worth a visit. Their mission is to be a catalyst in the creation of vibrant and sustainable rural communities. They have projects that consist of an integrated development strategy in education, health and nutrition, and sustainable livelihoods.
Check out the amazing initiative here:
As Bulungula Lodge mentions on its website: “All these businesses are 100% owned and run by members of the local community so your money goes where it’s most needed.”
“Many of the businesses in the area are still in their infancy and are not always as professional as you would find in the big cities (no-one in our village had any experience of tourism prior to 2004). But everyone puts their heart and soul into their new venture and as a result there is a unique, fresh edge to these activities.”