Urban Tours: Johannesburg, Soweto and Apartheid Museum Full Day Tour
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Joburg, or Egoli (meaning the City of Gold) is the provinical capital of Gauteng and is the economic and commercial hub of South Africa. It is also South Africa’s largest city with the greater metropolitan area of Johannesburg having a population of over 12 million. It is a very sprawling city with many different nodes and neighbourhoods.
Soweto origins go back to 1905 when, using an outbreak of disease in the part of town now known as Newtown as an excuse, the then Johannesburg City Council took the opportunity of moving the black residents of this area to a place 20km south west of Johannesburg. After the National Party took power in 1948, it instituted the Group Areas Act and forcibly moved black population groups out of inner Johannesburg areas, such as Sophiatown, to Soweto, a name derived in 1963 from the acronym South West Townships. Today the city of Soweto has more than 2 million inhabitants. Previously under-resourced, it still has large areas of dire poverty but it also now has shopping malls, including the large Maponya Mall; parks and recreation facilities; many restaurants and B&BS; the newly opened Soweto theatre; and Vista University campus which is part of the University of Johannesburg.
Johannesburg, Soweto and Apartheid Museum Full Day Tour Details
DURATION: 9 hours
AVAILABILITY: Daily – except on New Year’s Day, Good Friday & Christmas Day.
PICK-UP TIME: 9:00
MEALS: Not included
ENTRANCE FEES: Apartheid Museum included
(PLEASE NOTE – not all attractions on this tour are open every day)
COST: R1050 per person (2 people minimum)
Typically this tour combines the route and many of highlights of the Johannesburg City, and Soweto tours. But as with all tours there is flexibility for tailor-made itineraries.
- We drive from your collection point through the northern suburbs (past Mandela’s house in Houghton) to Munro Drive offering an excellent view of the suburbs which give Johannesburg its reputation as the largest man-made urban forest.
- From here we pass through Hillbrow home to African immigrants from all over the continent.
- We have a brief stop at Constitution Hill, a site rich with historic layering to look at the Court building. Originally the site of a fort in the late 19th Century Boer Republic, it later became a notorious prison where but 2 of its most famous inmates were Gandhi (in colonial times) and Mandela (under apartheid rule).
- Driving over Mandela Bridge we reach Newtown, Jozi’s so-called cultural precinct and home to the famous Market Theatre.
- At the edge of Newtown there are some architecturally interesting buildings: the Johannesburg branch of the Reserve Bank; Helmut Jahn’s diamond building; Anglogold Ashanti’s adaptive re-use of the Turbine Hall.
- In nearby Diagonal Street there are local trading stores and a traditional medicine shop (not for the faint-hearted).
- Moving to Main Street we see the headquarters of the mining giants and a walk down Main Street will take us past an old mining head gear as well as a large scale replica of the golden Mapungubwe rhino. There are pavement cafes along the way if you want a coffee break.
- We then drive to Soweto.
- We pass the newly upgraded Baragwanath taxi rank near the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (one of the 3 largest hospitals in the world and covering 170 acres). It is the busiest taxi rank in South Africa and is a vibrant hive of activity with informal trading and street side food stalls.
- We’ll pass the iconic cooling towers which were part of the Orlando power station which functioned from the early 1940s until it was decommissioned in 1998. Here the adventurous get their adrenalin rush with a daring 100m bunjee jump from between the towers.
- We’ll pass through a wide variety of neighbourhoods with houses varying from luxurious mansions and new middle class homes, to previous single-sex migrant hostels now converted into family units, and informal settlements where shack dwellings have been constructed of corrugated iron and recycled materials. Should you be interested we can stop and meet local residents.
- No visit to Soweto is complete without a turn down Vilikazi Street, home to 2 Nobel peace prize winners: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president Mandela.
- Then the stop for lunch at Wandie’s famous tavern.
- After lunch we drive by the memorial to Hector Pieterson, the young teenager who was the first of many to die during the 1976 Soweto uprising.
- You will also see Soccer City, the flagship stadium with its iconic calabash design which was refurbished for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The opening and closing matches were played to a capacity crowd of 94,000.
- During our tour you will see various parks and new areas of post 1994 redevelopment and regeneration.
- We end off our tour with a visit to the Apartheid Museum. This museum is internationally recognized as the best museum on 20th century South Africa in the world. It recounts the political upheavals beginning in the last century and moves on to the transition from Apartheid state into the new era of hope and freedom as a democracy. Given the nature of its subject matter the viewing experience is very intense with a lot of texts – both written and visual: photographs and videos. The self-guided tour of the museum last approximately 2 -3 hrs.
‘Make Noise’ sums up Jozi’s fast pace and vibrant energy
We visit the memorial to Hector Pieterson
Our tour ends with a visit to the world-famous Apartheid Museum