Soweto “South Western Township” Cultural/Historical Tours
Soweto Tour – fully guided tour covering all major sites and Soweto’s turbulent past. Focusing on the history and culture without being invasive to the people of Soweto.
Including Baragwaneth taxi rank and hospital, Orlando Power Station with the Twin Towers, Hector Peterson museum and memorial, Vilakazi Street, Regina Mundi Church, Vista University, Freedom Square, Kliptown, Elephant houses, Orlando Soccer Stadium.
Private collection and drop off – supplied as a fully guided professional tour covering en-route as may be possible from collection to drop off. Not simply a point to point transfer with a driver.
A product of segregationist planning. Home to two Nobel Prize Winners and a Central part of Black South Africa’s fight against Apartheid.
An international recognisable name, synonymous with apartheid and the racial system that created it.
Items covered by Ekala Eco Tours on our Soweto day tours
Our Soweto tours are private only (not mixed groups) – as such each Soweto tour can be uniquely designed for an individual experience. If you have only one day available for a Soweto/Johannesburg tour, we structure the tour around the key sites and your time available and the time allocated to the tour. Giving you the best chance to see and understand not only Soweto, but Johannesburg as a whole.
We prefer to use our experience in Soweto to create a suitable day tour, including the most significant sites and history of the area and best use of time.
Ekala Eco Tours does not go into private houses or into Soweto’s informal settlements (so called “squatter camps”). We have found in our experience, most guests feel uncomfortable with this. However if you have any specific requirements or places you wish to visit, Ekala will create a tour around this. These details should be supplied to us at the time of quoting.
The long-term struggle against apartheid is best embodied by Soweto.
Important Soweto sites covered
- Hector Peterson Museum/Memorial
- Vilakazi Street – Mandela Family Home
- Regina Mundi Church
- Kliptown Freedom Square/Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication
- Chris Hani Baragwaneth hospital
- Taxi Rank
Orlando Power Station and Twin Towers, Vista University – now part of Johannesburg University, Soweto Hostels and Orlando Soccer Stadium.
Ekala would always endeavor to include the important sites listed above in our Soweto tours. However depends on time available and other items that have been specifically included in the day tour, as the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and areas of Johannesburg.
Your hotel location also has an impact on the route used on the day and the amount of traveling time. We create our routes to cover the most that may be possible in the time available and not using the same road more than once on any day tour.
Apartheid Museum: We include this in most of our Soweto tours. The Museum is not in Soweto, however is en-route from most areas of Johannesburg to or from Soweto. If you are to be doing this on another day, we exclude this from your Soweto tour.
In full day and short Johannesburg/Soweto tours requiring the Apartheid Museum, we take you through the Apartheid Museum in about an hour to maximum 1.5 hours. But since you are accompanied by an experienced guide – generally would cover more in this time than most tourists do in a day.
As such does not have you wasting your valuable time wondering around a museum. However – as the tour is private if you wish to allocate more time and go through yourself – easy.
Soweto tour works well with Apartheid Museum and areas of Johannesburg to create a full day tour. Gives you a full understanding of Johannesburg as a whole, historically and culturally, not only a piece of Johannesburg and thus a piece of understanding only.
Freedom Struggle Tour – Nelson Mandela Road to Freedom Tour
Ekala specializes in a freedom struggle tour, parts of this is covered in Soweto. Covering over a hundred years of racial segregation, the people, the places and the road to the election of 1994. More information on separate freedom tour page
South Africa history – written in Soweto streets – by the people of Soweto
The peaceful transition to democracy in 1994 is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of humankind in the 20th century.
Soweto’s diverse and patriotic community led the opposition to the apartheid system.
Townships – a legacy of the apartheid era, built adjacent to an existing city or town to accommodate the black labour force.
Residents of Soweto welcome visitors to the township. This is regarded as an honour, the people of Soweto feel proud that they have something of value that prompted the visit.
The long-term struggle against apartheid is best embodied by Soweto.
Notable Soweto Sites
Baragwaneth: With its huge and extremely busy taxi rank on one side of the road with the biggest hospital in the southern hemisphere (Chris Hani Baragwaneth) hospital on the other side of the road. Built as a military hospital during the Second World War.
Orlando Power Station and the Twin Towers: Supplied electricity to Johannesburg (not Soweto) for years until its closure due to high operational expenses. These towers creatively painted and visible in most parts of Soweto. The adrenalin junkie can bungee jump between the towers (see our Adventure Sports page)
Motsoaledi informal settlement: Walk through a poverty stricken environment with conditions no better than they were in 1903 when the area was originally settled. Meet the people of Soweto during the walk in the squatter camp with a local guide.
Hector Peterson Museum/Memorial: A museum named after one of the first fatalities but dedicated to the many students who lost their lives during the student uprising of 1976 and the transition to democracy in South Africa. An informative stop and an insight into the root causes of the riots and the loss of life that followed.
Vilakazi Street: The only street in the world that has seen two Nobel Peace Prize winners as residents. Nelson Mandela lived here in a house built in 1945, moving in with his first wife Evelyn and later with his first son. Divorcing in 1957, and was joined in the house the following year by his second wife Winnie for only a short time before he went into hiding and later arrested. Nelson Mandela returned to the house for a brief stay after his release in 1990. A few houses down the road is the house of internationally know and respected anti-apartheid stalwart cleric – Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The clinic used during the student uprising of 1976 is also on this street.
Regina Mundi Church: Built in 1962 and used as a meeting point during the years of apartheid and a focal point during those years. Known in the years of struggle as the Parliament of Soweto. One of Soweto’s 18 Catholic Churches and is also the largest in South Africa. Home to the famous Larry Scully painting of the black Madonna. Day Creche with their delightful singing and the heart breaking rehabilitation centre for the youth who have suffered from abuse and neglect in their early childhood.
Vista University – Soweto Campus: Now part of the Johannesburg University Established by the Apartheid Government in 1982. The prime motivation was to ensure tertiary education within the black townships rather than campuses that were reserved for whites. Its first academic year started in January 1983 and now forms part of the University of Johannesburg, a merger between the Johannesburg Technikon, Rand Afrikaans University and other Vista University campuses
Freedom Square/Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, Kliptown: The Freedom Charter – 26 June 1955, over 3 000 representatives of resistance organizations (Congress of the People) made their way through the police to congregate on an open, sandy area of Kliptown, Soweto. Congress of the People met to discuss and sign the Freedom Charter, an alternative vision to the racist policies of the apartheid state. Today inside Kliptown’s Freedom Charter Monument, the 10 clauses of the Freedom Charter, cast in a concrete circle can be viewed
Elephant houses: Built in the 70’s after devastating wind storms in the area. Built with concrete walls and a roof that resembles an elephants back. These houses accommodate 2 to 3 families, and is not able to be added to, as most houses in Soweto are.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s current Soweto residence.
Soweto Hostels: Prominent feature of Soweto. Built during the Apartheid years to house male migrant workers.
Orlando Soccer Stadium: Built in 1959 and originally home to the Johannesburg Bantu football association. Orlando Stadium Serving Soweto for over 4 decades and the intended destination for the June 16th 1976 student protest. The stadium became an icon of the struggle against Apartheid, holding a special place in the hearts of the people of Soweto. Orlando Stadium has a capacity of 40 000 and received a face lift prior to the 2010 World Cup.
Credo Mutwa Village: Zulu and Sotho homesteads in Soweto’s Credo Mutwa Village consisting of symbolic clay sculptures and structures. Village depicting a variety of African styles. Sculptures depicting African culture and folklore, many with a mythical quality.
The Soweto Township Tour
The tour gives glimpse into Soweto and the turbulent past of the area and an insight into the influential people and the ordinary resident, both young and old who fought for change not only for Soweto, but for South Africa. This is both the birth place and the cradle of the struggle against the apartheid system.
The history of South Africa was written here, in the Soweto streets, by the people of Soweto. View the wealth and the poverty, side by side in the informal settlements and affluent suburbs with the new emerging township all in one. Infused with the turbulent history during the years of struggle against apartheid.
Experience the sprawling metropolis of the largest township in South Africa – Soweto
Covering Soweto only within the tour.
Soweto only – always a problem in Ekala’s experience opinion. We supply a tour – as can be covered in the time allocated – that covers as much as possible of Johannesburg as a whole.
Soweto is only a small part of Johannesburg – People only visiting Soweto have little to no understanding of the city and generally lead to many of the misconceptions about the city.
Our tours leave you with an understanding of the entire city and its history and people.
To even start to cover Apartheid or give a basic understanding of racial segregation – not possible only in Soweto.
If your reasoning for requiring Soweto only is because of covering Johannesburg on a day before or trip before. Then we will certainly balance the previous tour with a focus on Soweto.
The Walking Tour
Due to the size of Soweto, we only cover one section on foot – time permitting. Best to cover the greater parts of Soweto by vehicle.Time permitting (and if required) this walk between two of the most important sites in Soweto, takes around 30 minutes. But as our tours are only private – we can certainly structure the Soweto tour around your personal requirements.
Look beyond the June 16th 1976 student uprising to the core of Soweto – its people.
The lack of housing continues to be a fundamental social problem and is a major challenge to the African National Congress (ANC) government and its dominance in the future if it fails to adequately address the township housing problem.
Our Soweto tours are private, fully guided professional tours.
Items and timing can be tailor made to your personal requirements.
Included on the tour will be many other items of interest including various community development projects and the massive goldmine dumps. All discussed in depth on the tour. Not simply a point to point drive.
Take a sightseeing Helicopter flight over Soweto and Johannesburg.
Helicopter flight over Johannesburg and/or Soweto. Great opportunity for photos and a greater view of the area. Generally only available over weekends.
Ekala Family & Guides
We pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of South Africa and intimate knowledge of the tours, historically/culturally and wildlife safaris we offer. With our knowledge and experience, bringing a lifetime of experience in South Africa (and 4 generations before us) to ensure our clients capitalise best on their time and budget.
We personally conduct and organise all our tours and safaris as highly experience and professional guides.
Get an enhanced understanding of South Africa’s history and diverse cultures.
Follow in Nelson Mandela footsteps:
Robben Island – you can visit his prison cell.
However – Johannesburg/Pretoria:
Nelson Mandela came to Johannesburg as a young man.
Became an activist in Johannesburg
Entire focus of his defiance campaign – Johannesburg.
Became a lawyer in Johannesburg.
Ran his law firm (and that of Oliver Tambo) in Johannesburg.
All time spent in prison before the Rivonia trail – in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Once released from prison – returned to Johannesburg.
Inaugurated as President in Pretoria.
While President – office in Pretoria.
While President – main residence in Pretoria.
After retiring (as president) still had an office – in Johannesburg.
Still today – his office – now the Nelson Mandela centre of memory - in Johannesburg.
Spent the last 23 years of his life in Johannesburg (apart from a limited amount of time in Qunu).
Hospital while ill – Pretoria.
Passed away in Johannesburg.
Thus if you wish to WALK in the footsteps of the Great Man and to truly experience his life, it needs to be in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Enjoying and respecting South Africa’s national assets – wildlife, environment and the people.
An Historical/Cultural tour and Safari to remember for the right reason
No prices on our website as we do not have set routes with set collection and drop off’s that waste a lot of your available and valuable time.
We structure our tours/safari's around our clients requirements, available time and collection and drop off requirements.
If time is limited:
We will structure the tour from arrival to departure – including airport collection and drop off.
Using all time available as a fully guided professional tour.
Not simply a point to point mixed group drive around.
We quote structured around your requirements/timing