Calabash Tours is a small, locally focussed tour company that has been operating since 1997. We offer a range of services to both Inbound Tour operators, and to individual tourists who are interested in exploring Nelson Mandela Bay, its people, and the fantastic wildlife experiences within close proximity to the City.
Steeped in responsible tourism and pro-poor tourism thinking, our ground breaking approach allows visitors to access, understand and appreciate the social history of the people, their day to day experiences of being black South Africans during apartheid, as well as during our emergence as a democracy. Our experiences are real, authentic, and ethical.
Calabash Tours is owned and operated by a dynamic team, who share a vision of tourism being a powerful development tool, while balancing the social needs of the poor with the desire by our visitors to have fun, to learn, and to engage with the South African people in an ethical way.
Calabash Tours offers a range of authentic tours to tourists visiting our beautiful country. Our flagship tour “The Real City Tour” gives a great perspective on the development of cities in South Africa, and explores the history of all of the people. It covers the city centre, with its English heritage, and proceeds to the townships – where 75% – of residents live. Townships are the heart of urban African life. They’re a repository of history, culture and life stories. They’re vibrant, heart-breaking, heart-warming, resilient, cohesive, and dynamic.
During a Shebeen tour Calabash Tours will take you on an unforgettable journey to experience the diversity of the townships, before relaxing at one of our carefully selected Shebeens (previously the illegal drinking houses) for drinks and dinner. Enjoy the unbeatable hospitality of our African hosts and absorb the convivial community atmosphere with the locals.
Our unique Untold Stories tour starts with an orientation of the township, you will then visit two local residents who will share their “untold stories” with you. These are ordinary people, with extraordinary tales. Some of the story tellers tell tales of our political past. Some tell of their life as township artists, and how their African roots influence their work. Food is an excellent way to come together, so expect to be well fed. Dinner or lunch is included. We also offer experiences to Addo National Park, Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours and a range of other exiting experiences.
In regards to our commitment to ethical tourism, we are members of SATSA and we are Fair Trade Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) accredited. Our company has been operating as a responsible tourism organisation for a very long time and we pride ourselves as a leader within responsible tourism practice.
We are able to offer a 10% discount to Tourism Concern Members.
Calabash has been operating within the responsible tourism and volunteering sector for a very long time. We have an NGO dedicated to helping in communities at community schools which we visit with our clients.
Activities on offer include: permaculture and food security, environmental education, parental engagement, early childhood development.
All tours have services provided by the local community. One of the aspects of the fair-trade tourism audit is an evaluation of where the fair share is paid to community service providers. Our guides are sourced from the local community and are employed on a full time basis.
Part of the work of the Calabash Trust is the restoration of biodiversity within school precincts. We maintain energy efficiency within our own offices and minimize the use of scarce or non-renewable resources through sharing of rain water harvesting practices within the community.