- Posted August 30, 2011 by
Soweto, South Africa
This iReport is part of an assignment:
South Africa: Down on the cape
My stay in soweto
I have been to South Africa and southern Africa three times now and done all of the major sites from Cape Town to Vic Falls. Out of all that South African travel, the most rewarding experience was my stay in Soweto in March 2010. Soweto or the SOuth WEst TOwnships are located southwest of Johannesburg and were originally housing for black africans under the apartheid system. The part I visited was the area in and around Orlando where many of the anti-apartheid heroes lived like Mandela and Tutu.
I know many people have all these negative comments about south african crime rates but they are mostly from people who have not been there. Crime rates are high in certain areas and you should seek advice from guides and locals about the safety of various areas before visiting. Keep in mind that tourists are very rarely affected by violent crime and you should be careful anywhere you choose to visit. Obviously, avoid displaying conspicuous wealth and carrying large amounts of cash and you should be fine. Moving on...
I stayed at a backpackers in Orlando for 5 days and went on a guided bicycle tour the first day, then walked all over the township with other backpackers and locals that I befriended (and yes I am a 6' tall blonde haired white guy.) I went bungee jumping, rode around the township in the local taxis, went to the bars along Vilakazie street, dined at the local restaurants and visited with locals.
The people are so friendly and caring and everyone wants to meet you to say hi and welcome you to their community.
Top things to do are a bicycle tour of the township, bungee jumping at orlando towers, visiting a shebeen, tour Vilakazie street, visit the Hector Pieterson memorial, visit a local market like the one in front of Chris Hani Bara Hospital, attend an Orlando Pirates (SA premier league soccer) match, and help out at one of the local NGO's in the township.
Soweto is more accesible than ever and they even have a Holiday Inn now. Just please don't take a tour bus through the township as they are impersonal and make the residents feel like zoo exhibits. Get out and meet the Sowetans and you will have an amazing time!