We are happy to present our best cultural day tours in Johannesburg. Planning a trip to Johannesburg and looking for a taste of something cultural? Are you wanting to learn more about this fascinating country? How history, the discovery of gold and the cultural diversity molded the character and infrastructure of this complex city known as Egoli (the city of Gold)
Where do we start? A lot of crazy stuff has happened in the past 150 years from a cultural, historical and economical point of view. Here is a condensed description:
The only reason Johannesburg and Soweto exist today is because of the discovery of Gold. In fact, over 60% of the worlds gold production has come from here. It is still a ‘mining’ town, just with a lot more industry added to it. This include manufacturing, finance and retail.
Johannesburg is the largest man made forest in the world!!!! Over 6 million trees!! How crazy is that? But they were not always there. With the discovery of gold, timber was needed to prop up the underground mine shafts. But trees were hard to come by 150 years ago. So the authorities started to plant thousands of trees. These have compounded today into an incredible green city.
About 7 percent of Johannesburg‘s population cannot read or write with a whopping 30 percent of people living in informal settlements.
The central Johannesburg center consists of narrow roads and small city blocks. The thinking way back in the late 1800’s was that the Gold rush would not last long. So of course, the city planners did not want to expand too much. How wrong they were. The ‘Gold Rush’ has lasted over 150 years.
There is no logical reason for Johannesburg to exist where it does geographically. There are no rivers or source of water. If you had to go back in time, there would have been only flat ‘veld’ or dusty grassland. The water is sourced from Lesotho and feeds the Vaal Rive situated about 80km North of the city. This important dam is the only source of water for the city inhabitants.
The first miners were the Afrikaans people. But word quickly spread about the gold. And with that came the British. The ensuing result was 2 bloody Anglo Boer wars where the powers struggled for the ownership of the land.
The increase in gold production also brought the need for an increase in labour to keep up with the demand. Thousands of rural folk made their way to Johannesburg to find work on the mines. With it came the unfortunate development of informal settlements including Soweto. With the Group Areas Act in place, races where divided into areas dependent not only colour, but tribal affiliations as well. This is when South Africa experienced its worst ever history. The Apartheid Law was born. Out of the this era came the violence, inequality and trauma. But ultimately, good overcame evil. Many heroes rose including Nelson Mandela who helped free the land from its oppressors.
Come and see how the people of Johannesburg have survived adversity and are finding there way in their new found freedom.
Discover how the cultural diversity of Johannesburg effects the day to day living of its people. A lesson to the whole world-Multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds chilling out together in harmony. In fact, only 70% of the cities population hail from Johannesburg. The rest are from other areas of South Africa and only come to the city to work. Get to know the city and book one of the best cultural day tours in Johannesburg.
The city has a whopping surface area of 370 square Kilometres. Enough space for an array of day tours.
The most common ethnic groups are Black African ( 77%), Indian (5%) and Whites (12%)
Christianity has the largest following with 53%. The African Churches have a following of 14% with Jewish and Muslim figures at 1%.
Experience the most memorable cultural experiences in Johannesburg from a Soweto and Apartheid Museum Day tour to the vibrant village of Lesedi. These tours are an incredible introduction into the history and culture of our ‘Rainbow’ Nation known as South Africa. They touch on the history of Johannesburg as well as the more traditional approach in terms of the various tribal people that make up South Africa ( which include among many, the Zulu, Basotho, Pedi, Xhosa and Ndebele people).
In terms of a cultural experience, we have bench marked 2 day tours. The Soweto and Apartheid Museum tour and the Lesedi Cultural Village Tour. Of course there are various other day tours to do from Johannesburg but we say they are classified into other tour types. These include the more nature specific tours like the Pilanesberg National Park, Lion safari Park and elephant Walking tours. Also included are the more historical specific tours like the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng tours. We also have the nature/fitness type tours like the hiking trails at Hennops river.
This day tour lasts 8 hours and will introduce you to the ‘township’ known as Soweto-the building block for Johannesburg. Soweto was an incredible history. It was formed back in the 1930’s the the government at the time decided to separate Blacks from Whites. White people where moved to the ‘suburbs’ and Black people were moved to Soweto. The areas where separated by the looming yellow mine dumps. A sort of African Berlin Wall if you so desire.
The city was home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The stayed on a street called Vilakazi street. It is the only street in the world to have 2 Nobel peace Prize Winners stay there. Soweto was the main stage for political change in South Africa. Many of the struggles against Apartheid took place here. Some of the significant landmarks to visit include the Hector Pieterson Memorial ( a sombre place that marks the area where a young boy was gunned done by the police in the Student Uprisings in the 1970’s), Mandela House and the Oppenheimer cultural Centre.
It is at these spots you will hear the many stories about how the people of Soweto struggled against the oppressive government. And of course, a day tour to Soweto would not be complete without a traditional lunch. We have given the ‘touristy’ places a skip and take guests to a local eating house deep within Soweto- a perfect way to see how the locals chill out. We like to make our tours a lot more authentic and interactive. So yes, we are going to touch on the famous sites, but are also going to take you into areas rarely visited by other tour companies.
We reckon this is the best way to feel the soul of this fascinating township. The population is about 8 million. The second part of the tour sees us spending about 2.5 hours at the Apartheid Museum. You could spend the whole day here as there is a ton of information to take in.We have identified key ares of interest in the museum that our guide will point out to you. He will also spend time with you at each area explaining the interesting facts and history.
Infused with the history of the struggle against apartheid and abuzz with the energy of the city of gold, Soweto is a must-see for tourists who are looking for more than sun, sea and wild animals.
We love this spot!! This is by far the best and most popular cultural experiences. The village is situated in the heart of the African bushveld amidst the rocky hills within the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage-a mere 45 minute drive from Johannesburg. The village was created about 15 years ago to help portray the various cultural tribes that make up South Africa. You will be taken on a walking journey through the various villages to get a better insight into the character of each tribal unit.
You will get to see how the people have been living for centuries. You will get to see the food, style of clothing, design of dwellings and weapons. The village consists of 5 main sections that include the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho, Ndebele and Pedi tribes. Although similar from the outside, the cultural differences are vast. South African traditions have always been expressed through art, music and sculptures.
Lesedi showcases these in a wonderful fashion. You will also learn the importance the witch doctor or ‘Sangoma’ plays in everyday life. The tour ends off with a 45 minute traditional drumming and dancing session by the local folk who stay at the village. And of course, there is a delicious traditional buffet lunch served after the tour. You have to taste the crocodile. And tell the chef to make it snappy.
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