Cape Town Heritage Tours runs a series of ongoing free walking tours that happen twice every weekend, encompassing the sights and stories of the historical CBD, Company Gardens, Bo-Kaap, Sea Point, V&A Waterfront, Rondebosch, Muizenberg, Simons Town, and more. Cape Town Heritage Tours are not the type of everyday, generic walking tours that you might be used to. Rather than a regurgitation of information, these tours are uniquely immersive and illuminating due to their grounding in the practice of psychogeography.
Psychogeography is an artistic term that was proposed by the Marxist theorist Guy Debord in 1955, in order to explore the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviours of the people living there. Debord promoted fun and creative ways of navigating the urban environment in order to examine its architecture and spaces as the Tate Modern expresses.
Debord was inspired by the French nineteenth-century poet and writer Charles Baudelaire, who conceptualised the character of the flâneur. The flâneur is an urban wanderer and passive observer who likes the poet sits in cafes and watches the city pass by, gleaning stories, inspirations and insights from the normal life of those around him.
Cameron Peters, Cape Town Heritage Tours’ host and the guide explained that, in a way, the psychogeographer is a wandering flâneur who gets up from his table and follows a quest to observe and appreciate the city where the object is still just as vague and circumstantial.
Cameron describes his tours as historical Easter-egg hunts, in search of remnants of the past that tell the story of how a particular community or space came to be. Public relics otherwise invisible to the uneducated eye are his beacons. As an academic, Cameron is devoted to researching his routes and the stories they hold hidden beneath modern architecture or forgotten by time. If you decide to join him on one of his tours, you’ll see him carrying his bibliography with him, at least ten books heavy.
As a creative, Cameron endeavours to distil his historical findings into stories that are both entertaining and educational while encouraging collaboration and debate with his guests. The exchange of stories, memories, opinions and beliefs is a crucial element of the tour.
Cameron is an aspiring screenwriter. He is currently studying at UCT, doing his PhD in the rise and potential of South African Independent Film. These tours are not only something he is passionate about but also a means of research and of practising his storytelling craft. Cameron does not charge for his tours but donations are welcome!
The tours are generally two hours long and you should be prepared to walk for the duration of the tour, likened to hiking the city. Take a look at this description of the Observatory tour to get an idea of the creative genius of your guide who you’ll be leading you on this journey through time:
Why is Observatory?
Who is Lower Main Road?
How is Stones?
When is Bourgeois-Bohemia?
Where is dagga?
What is love?
The tours aspire to give you definitive answers to at least none of these questions this coming Saturday on our magical mystery ramble through the best suburb in the country.
Observatory is, in short, the wedge of Cape Town – the district that’s never officially been one in the first place. It started by sucking in the loafers and flaneurs of the Imperial age and thrived through catching the hearts of every prospector hopelessly lost on their way to Jo’burg.
It defied the apartheid era by comprising the fringes of segregated worlds and bouncing most of the Commerce Bros at the door.
Today, like a lovable cockroach, it’s survived years of recession and the pandemic and come out fighting with more coffee spots and daylight-robbery-based vintage stores than ever before. And we all have at least one favourite establishment where our lives were exemplified in a moment’s notice.
Think about yours, and I’ll tell you its history. So join me at the entrance to the actual Observatory just past the Two Rivers Urban Park and I’ll blast you through a living past of decolonial raiding, Victorian astrophilia, saloon-jazz derangement and diasporic immortality.
RSVP for kicks, donate what you can to the cause and come wander along the first and oldest frontier of our nation opening your mind to the raw ore of creativity laid out under the Devil’s peeking gaze.
Cameron views Cape Town as a major international city, a place where you can witness the whole world unfold around you in the course of a day. The passion and professionalism he devotes towards his project make this a truly special way to experience one of the greatest cities in the world.
- 13 April – Bo Kaap
- 17 April – Simons Town
- 24 April – Hout Bay
- 1 May – Company Gardens
- 8 May – Adderly Street and the CBD
Take a look at Cape Town Heritage Tours’ social media platforms for tour information and bookings: