Urban Tours: Soweto Township Half Day Tour
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.
Soweto Half Day Tour Details
DURATION: 3-4 hours
AVAILABILITY: Daily – except on New Year’s Day, Good Friday & Christmas Day (some attractions may be closed on other public holidays)
PICK-UP TIME: 9:00 and 13:00
MEALS: Not included
ENTRANCE FEES: Included for Hector Pieterson Museum; Mandela Museum excluded (R60 per adult (international); and R40 (local); and children R20
(PLEASE NOTE – not all attractions on this tour are open every day)
COST: R690.00 per person (2 people minimum)
TOUR DESCRIPTION: Our tour will introduce you to aspects of daily life in Soweto and the social fabric of this vibrant city as well as offer you some insights into its fascinating history. Some of the places you will see and visit on this exciting tour are listed below. Our tour combines driving, walking through areas and meeting people as well as museum visits. Please note that because we run small group tours we can make changes to this itinerary to suit your individual needs and interests.
- 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) is the busiest taxi rank in South Africa and is a vibrant hive of activity with informal trading and street side food stalls where you can enjoy a corn on the cob cooked over an open brazier.
- 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 Vilakazi Street, home to 2 Nobel peace prize winners: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president Mandela.
- Mandela’s house is now a museum (optional visit with an entry fee of R60).
- We’ll drive past various parks and new areas of post 1994 redevelopment and regeneration.
- We spend time at the Hector Pieterson Museum which tells the history of Soweto’s origins as a segregated township to house black labour for Johannesburg industry and mining; its role in the resistance against the Apartheid Government culminating in the Soweto uprising when students mounted their peaceful protest against being taught in the medium of Afrikaans; and the tragic killing of Hector Pieterson the young teenager who was the first of many to die during that period of terrible violence and conflict. At the museum Peter can arrange that you get taken around the museum by Hector Pieterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole
- During the tour you will pass 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.
- Also in Soweto is a flagship shopping centre, the Maponya Mall. This 65,000 square-metre development cost R650m to build and was officially opened in September 2007.
Our visit offers fascinating insights into daily life in Soweto. Here a local resident makes extra money through recycling
Vilakazi St is home to 2 Nobel Peace Laureates – Archbishop Tutu and former President Mandela
Sculpture of The Commuter at the Bara[gwanath] taxi rank by sculptor Clive Van Den Berg