This is the ideal add-on package to any tour staring or finishing in Johannesburg, or as a short getaway to this fascinating city. Combine New York, London and Amsterdam, add a touch of Calcutta, Rio and Los Angeles - and you get Johannesburg in South Africa.
The bustling city can seem overwhelming to the first-time visitor and some travellers are apprehensive, but most visitors end up loving Johannesburg. Take the time to explore the vibrant city, historic sights and dynamic Soweto - you will be amazed by the diverse cultures, interesting people and rich history!
During this trip you are likely to come across activities that encourage tourists to participate in lion, elephant or other wildlife interaction. This includes walking with lions, riding elephants and any other tourist operation putting travellers in close contact with animals that would normally live wild and separate from human contact.
We absolutely do not encourage or endorse this type of wildlife interaction operation. For more information on why this is not good for Africa's wild animals, please see our detailed blog post on the subject.
Arriving at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will be collected and transferred to the 4-star lodge nearby. Enjoy a tasty dinner and a complimentary bottle of wine at the comfortable lodge.
At 7h00 this morning we set off on our Ultimate Johannesburg & Soweto Tour - a full-day adventure that finishes at about 17h00. Return to the lodge for dinner accompanied by a complimentary bottle of wine.
After a scrumptious breakfast at the friendly lodge, you are transferred to O.R. Tambo International Airport (at about 11h00). Arriving at the airport, this affordable Johannesburg Tour comes to a close.
Accommodation on this Johannesburg Tour is at a comfortable 4-star lodge conveniently located about 15 minutes' drive from the O.R. Tambo International Airport. The safari-themed lodge features a lush garden with a swimming pool and outdoor deck area for relaxing. The staff and decor create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in true South African style. This tastefully decorated lodge has a dining room, patio, lounge and bar area. The spacious lodge rooms also feature African decor and have en-suite bathrooms. Accommodation includes breakfast and dinner, along with the comforts of home and excellent service.
Today we set off on our exciting and action-packed tour of Johannesburg and Soweto - visiting must-see highlights and historical attractions, and exploring the interesting mix of local cultures. Also known as Egoli (the Place of Gold) Johannesburg is the financial, economic and cultural powerhouse of South Africa. Jo'burg, as locals call it, is the second largest city in Africa, south of Cairo, home to some eight million people.
The day tour begins with a walk through the Marshals Town district, where we visit historical sites of famous icons - Rhodes, Mandela and Gandhi. Our walk takes us to Chancellor House, where Mandela & Tambo Attorneys was based in the 1950's. This renovated three-story on the corner of Fox and Gerard Sekoto Street is of historical significance as it housed the offices of two of South Africa's most famous political icons in the struggle for racial equality and justice - Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. Then we stop at the Anglo American Campus and Headquarters to see the famous Leaping Impala sculpture donated to the city by the Oppenheimer family. Located in the corporate mining district, the statue stands before the impressive Anglo American office building, across from the Magistrates Court. The Leaping Impala, also called Impala Stampede, serves as a symbol of Johannesburg's rise to prosperity during the gold rush, followed by its dramatic decline in the 1990's and on to its energetic revival today. Still, in the mining business district, we walk along Hollard Street, once the ‘Wall Street’ of Johannesburg, having featured the stock exchange for decades.
Leaving the business district we head to Satyagraha House in the suburb of Orchards, to see where passive resistance leader, Mohandas Gandhi, lived in 1908 and 1909. Moving on, we pass the Mandela residence in prestigious Houghton. Nelson Mandela spent his final days at this private residence and the Mandela family still lives there today. Then we go to Rivonia at Liliesleaf Farm, to learn about the dramatic events that took place here in July 1963 when security police raids resulted in the seizure of anti-apartheid documents and the arrest of members of the liberation struggle; Comrades Bernstein, Goldberg, Goldreich, Hepple, Kathrada, Mbeki, Mhlaba and Sisulu in 1963. Following on from our historic stops we enjoy a bit of African art and culture, visiting the social upliftment initiative of the Rosebank African Art Market. Here we pause for lunch and browse the local crafts and artefacts from across Africa - Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Congo, the Ivory Coast and more.
Our next destination is a must on any visit to Johannesburg - The Apartheid Museum, established in 2001 to document the tumultuous past and inspirational transformation of South African society. At the Apartheid museum, we journey into this country’s tragic and violent history under the Apartheid regime which legitimized white minority rule and oppression of the black majority, categorized as second-class citizens in their own country. The museum tells the story of the triumph of the human spirit when faced with adversity.
After our remarkable tour of South African history, we drive to the unique cultural melting pot of Soweto, the South Western Township, now more than a hundred years old. This vibrant urban centre was created during the apartheid era to keep 'black' people out of the City Centre, but now many people choose to live there, with about 3 to 5 million inhabitants. Most of the residents are middle-class and about 10% live in poverty, yet one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the country is also to be found in Soweto. Soweto is an excellent place to get a sense of contemporary day-to-day life for many South Africans and experience rich cultural and artistic expression.
Meet the diverse people of Soweto and see the sights, starting with the FNB sports stadium - the largest stadium in Africa. From the spectacular stadium to the matchbox houses of Diepkloof, built for black migrant workers, and on into the leafy Diepkloof Extension, a more affluent neighbourhood in contrast with the migrant housing. Continuing our exploration we drive past the third largest hospital in the world, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, with some 3200 beds and over 6700 employees. We also pass the brightly-painted landmark of the Soweto Cooling Towers built in 1951, one sporting advertising and the other a massive mural. Then we drive to Kliptown to see the Walter Sisulu Square Freedom Square where 3000 people congregated in 1955 to adopt the Freedom Charter, which underpins the Constitution. Onwards to Orlando West and the Hector Pieterson Memorial. The Hector Pieterson Museum was established to preserve the history and memory of all those who were involved in the Soweto uprising of 16 June 1976. The museum is named after the 13-year old Hector Pieterson, who was among the first student victims to die in police shootings. The photograph capturing Hector's death became a famous icon of the brutality of Apartheid, and the very graphic black-and-white photos at the museum are an incredibly moving sight.
Lastly, we visit the renowned Vilakazi Street in Soweto - the world's only street where two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, have lived. We visit Mandela's house and pass the home of Tutu, which is still a private residence. Vilakazi Street captures the heart of bustling Soweto, featuring lively pubs, colourful people and artworks. We wrap-up our fascinating exploration of Johannesburg and Soweto at two of the local pubs on Vilakazi Street, before returning to the lodge.