What to expect
We will start our tour by reaching a look out point of Orlando East and West. You will get an introduction of Soweto – it’s size, the history of how Soweto was formed and the people that make up this large township. You will see and learn more about some of our landmarks such as the Orlando stadium and the brightly painted Orlando towers. Learn one of the many greetings to interact with people along the way!
We will thereafter head to the former men’s hostel in Mzimhlophe which used to be the home of mine workers during the apartheid era, you will learn more about their living conditions and how families live here together today.
Along the way we will stop at street stalls or local shops to buy local snacks as a way of tasting typical township street food/snacks and supporting our local businesses.
The tour continues to the community of Meadowlands famous for the forced removals from the mixed-race area of Sophiatown in Johannesburg in the mid-1950s. Learn more about how the Apartheid government divided the population according to their race-group and how the homes of the non-white population were destroyed and people were moved into other areas where they were forced to re-build their homes and families.
We continue the tour cycling along various streets leading us to Orlando West, seeing the various neighbourhoods and how people in Soweto has progressed. We will make a stop outside one of Soweto’s ‘little mansions’ – South Africa’s famous jazz singer Abigail Khubeka lives here and the guide will give you a little taste of her music and her contribution to the South African music scene.
Our next stop is at the Hector Peterson memorial site where we commemorate the student uprising that took place on June 16, 1976. Students took to the streets against the oppressive education system and police answered with teargas and live ammunition. Many innocent children lost their lives on this day.
We thereafter cycle down Vilakazi Street – the only street in the world that was the home of two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Nelson Mandela and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Stop outside the Mandela House and learn more about Nelson Mandela and his former wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela and their time in Soweto and their contribution of the struggle for freedom. Cycle further down the street to the Tutu home and hear about another great icon in the fight against Apartheid.
Before making our way back we take a cruise around the neighbourhood called by the locals – ‘The Beverly Hills of Soweto’ – you will find out why on your tour! Here you will also be able to see the house where Winnie Mandela lived after her divorce from Nelson Mandela and until she passed away in 2018.
Coming back to Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers we end the tour with a traditional drink ceremony. We sit down together in a circle passing the traditional calabashes around for a taste of the Sorghum beer and the Maize drink, Mageu. Both drinks are home brewed by women in our community.
What you’ll need
Camera, comfortable walking shoes, , sunscreen and a hat.
The tour includes lunch which is either served after the tour – 10am slot – or before the tour – 1:00 pm slot. Lunch is served at our “Outdoor Restaurant” with seating in the community park. The meal is a delicious African stew cooked the traditional way – over the fire – served with either the popular staple – Pap (maize porridge), or in an hallowed out piece of bread – calles “Kota” or “Bunny Chow”.
Children discount: 1-4 years: No charge; Baby carrier: R150-R300; Children 5-12 years 50% discount
Where we’ll be
Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers 10823A Pooe St, Orlando West, Soweto, 1804
This tour leaves daily. Booking essential
About your host
Lebo – founder of “Lebo’s Soweto” grew up in the house which is today our Backpackers hostel. He was introduced to the tourism industry as buses started coming in numbers in the early 2000’s. He was then selling craft at the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto and started inviting some of the travelers he met to his home to experience another side of Soweto than viewing the township from a bus-window. A few years after that Lebo started the now popular Soweto bicycle tour taking people out of the car and on to the streets of Soweto.
Join our chefs in our Outdoor Kitchen and restaurant where we cook the traditional way – in potjies (cast iron pots) over fire. Make use of vegetables and herbs in our own and community garden together with fresh ingredients and exotic spices to learn how to stir up a chicken stew, vegetarian curry with the African starch pap and our famous chakalaka salad!
Soweto is an urban settlement or ‘township’ in South Africa, southwest of Johannesburg; with a population of approximately 1.3 million.
Soweto became the largest Black city in South Africa, but until 1976 its population could have status only as temporary residents, serving as a workforce for Johannesburg.