Soweto, Johannesburg

17 Reviews

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Soweto
    by Paulm1987
  • Orlando towers
    Orlando towers
    by Paulm1987
  • Soweto
    by Paulm1987
  • Paulm1987's Profile Photo

    Bungy Jumping and Other activities

    by Paulm1987 Updated Feb 21, 2014
    Orlando towers
    2 more images

    You can enjoy Bungy Jumping, Rock Climbing , Abseiling, PaintBall etc....they do allow people to climb up to the top for Panoramic Viewing but cameras not allowed for safety reasons. there's also a resturant selling food "Chisanyama" a Zulu word meaning "Braai meat" with Pap. Beer also sold here for those feeling thirsty. There is a local DJ playing all kinds of House music especially local.
    So if you really want to mix with the locals and Play with locals then "Chafpozi is the place to be...
    They also provide hotel transfers as well.

    A good place for a night out and Day chill

    Related to:
    • Bungy Jumping

    Was this review helpful?

  • mikezura1's Profile Photo

    A Soweto tour to watch out for

    by mikezura1 Written Dec 30, 2012

    The below is a bad experience we had with a tour of Soweto+. We dealt with Lorrinda Timmins from Dumela events in JoBurg.
    The company was recommend to us by a 5* safari lodge, so we beleived we would be taken care of by travel professionals.
    Of course, much of the below is subjective, and all we can do is hope that someone uses more caution with this (and other) travel companies. We asked for museum tour, soweto tour, historically knowledgeable guide, and authentic lunch. We received only 1 of those items.

    Summary:
    Dec 24th
    Our guide was very nice person. Unfortunately, he knew little about history and is also very hard to understand. Historically we learned next to nothing!
    15 minute ride to Restaurant and back.

    Dec 25th 10am – 2:15pm:
    Apartheid museum was closed. We asked multiple times for verification that it was open. This was important part of tour.
    Most of the tour was driving around, with information about sights very hard to understand. Part of it was a waste of time. Took us 30 minutes to drive into mall(traffic) and take money out of ATM..
    The highlight was tour of the poorest area of Soweto. Here the guide was at his best and very useful/knowledgeable.
    The restaurant was Hotel Soweto. After 10 minutes of discussion, it became clear that our authentic lunch was going to either be chicken wing, or French fries. We decided to skip.

    the total for this was R3000 (about $340 USD). We asked for a (partial) refund, were (personally) insulted by Lorinda and her answers were indirect in 2 emails, and then no response at all.

    ===
    A general idea learned:
    Do not mistake a Soweto guide for a historical guide. Maybe there are a few out there, but probably best to book just the 2 hour visit to soweto with a soweto local, and stick to more professional guides otherwise..

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Are you mad enough to bungee jumping in Soweto?

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Feb 9, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Of course you want to bungeejump into one of these

    The overly cautious have long (and incorrectly) maintained that it is not safe for visitors to venture into the townships, even as part of a tour - however, they probably never envisaged a scenario under which that danger would be entirely self-inflicted!

    Yes, you can bungee jump in Soweto! The venue is one of the two disused cooling towers which loom over the township, whose exteriors have been brilliantly revamped from 'threatening' to 'funky' with some creative artwork (in one case, they have even been clever enough to get a bank to sponsor this so that they can plaster the structure with their logo!). The tower in question is 100m high and you can jump outwards or - more (more unusually) into the cavernous interior - apparently the only place in the world where you can do this!

    Why you would want to is quite beyond me, and given that I pride myself on still retaining some modicum of sanity and respect for the fine art of self-preservation, I have not done this myself (and have no intention of ever doing so). However, I have met people who have been crazy enough to risk life and limb and live to rave about it, so if you'd like to add a whole new dimension to your township experience, this is not to be missed!

    See the website below for more details (and needless to say, this will in all probability negate any travel insurance you have paid an arm and a leg for)

    Note that the bungee jumping is open Friday - Sunday only.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Moirads's Profile Photo

    The Madonna and Child of "Soweto

    by Moirads Written Oct 31, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    Regina Mundi is famous for the painting "The Madonna and Child of Soweto” mostly referred to as "The Black Madonna" by Larry Scully in 1973.

    The first Black Madonna is attributed to St Luke in AD50. There are black Marian figures/Virgins in most cultures where black people are dominant and Catholicism is prevalent.

    Larry Scully, the artist, immigrated from England to South African when he was 15. He studied at the University of the Witswatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, from 1947 through 1950. He was a friend of Cecil Skotnes who, incidentally, was in the same class as my father. In 1963, Scully became the first person in South Africa to be awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree (cum laude). Scully’s subject was San influences on Walter Battiss’s work.

    Scully had many exhibitions over the years, and he won the prestigious Oppenheimer Painting Prize in 1965.

    Scully painted a famous "Cityscape" (Dudley Heights building in Johannesburg) and the "Music Murals" for the University of Stellenbosch commissioned him to paint his “Music Murals” in 1978.

    He became Professor of Fine Arts and Art History at the University of Stellenbosch.

    In the 1970s, Scully headed a committee organizing a Johannesburg Biennale. He planned to have all South Africans represented as artists and audience members. A week or so before the biennale was due to open, the South African government ordered Scully to limit the biennale to whites only. Scully refused to agree to this and shut down the biennale immediately. This was an unusual and highly principled action at a time when most whites supported Apartheid and did little to challenge racial discrimination

    In 1973 The Star newspaper, a liberal, anti-apartheid newspaper in Johannesburg commissioned Scully to paint a picture to raise money for an education fund for black South Africans. Scully painted The Madonna and Child of Soweto, some 8 foot by 5 foot in size. Harry Oppenheimer of Anglo American bought the painting that was then donated to the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto. Regina Mundi was the site of much anti-apartheid activity both in the 1970s and through to the ending of apartheid in the 1990s. Numerous funerals of activists were held in the church and many organizations used the church for meetings. During the student uprising in 1976, students fled to Regina Mundi after police shot at them. In 1997, Nelson Mandela declared 30 November Regina Mundi Day in recognition of the importance of the church to the anti-apartheid struggle. As Michael Morris has noted the painting “had a prophetic quality: the focal point is the child’s right hand, forming a victory sign.”[Morris Interview with Scully in Matieland February 2002}.

    In 2004, journalist Mpho Lukoto reflected on 10 years of democracy in South Africa by saying of the painting:

    “Perhaps one of the most poignant reminders of the past is the Black Madonna and Child of Soweto, which was painted by Laurence Scully. Beneath the image of the Black Madonna, Scully painted an eye, with the different images in it giving meaning to the picture. The pupil of the eye represents the township. The two black forks that run across the eye toward the pupil represent the pain inflicted on black people. And in the centre of the eye, representing the church, is a cross with a light that illuminates the pupil. It struck me that in the midst of all the painful memories, the painting is a symbol of the hope that, like the church itself, was in the heart of the people. I like to believe that it was that hope that makes it possible for us to celebrate 10 years of democracy.” The Star, March 23, 2004

    The Black Madonna on the wall inside the Regina Mundi churchToday thousands of visitors still see The Madonna and Child of Soweto on tours of the City and the image of the black Madonna is printed on t-shirts that are sold across South Africa.

    While not an overt political activist, Larry Scully’s desire to recognize the humanity in all people on all sides of the difficult divide that was Apartheid South Africa is probably his lasting legacy, symbolized indeed by his beloved Madonna and Child of Soweto.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Moirads's Profile Photo

    Regina Mundi Catholic Church

    by Moirads Written Oct 31, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Regina Mundi church exterior
    3 more images

    Regina Mundi (Queen of the World) Catholic Church, built in 1964, forms part of the rich history of Soweto, and is a must-see on every tour to Soweto, if only to admire the scars from the days of apartheid police action. It is the largest Roman Catholic church in Soweto, it seats two thousand and has standing room for a further five thousand and often serves as a concert hall for classical and sacred music concerts.

    Regina Mundi first wrote its name in South Africa’s history books during apartheid, when it opened its doors to anti-apartheid groups and provided shelter to activists. People forbidden to meet with others under banning orders were allowed to attend church, so church was where they conducted their political activities. Church services were often really political rallies. Funerals were often political affairs, starting at Regina Mundi and ending at Avalon Cemetery.

    During the June 16, 1976 student uprisings, protesting students fled to Regina Mundi from Orlando Stadium to escape the police’s bullets and teargas canisters. Throughout the history of the Christian world church buildings have served as a sanctuary for anyone seeking it. The sanctity of the building has often, perhaps usually, although not universally, been recognised by police and military personnel. Not so in the case of the South African police where they followed the students into the church, first throwing teargas cannisters into the building and then firing live ammunition and damaging the marble altar and crucifix.

    The statue of Christ which was allegedly damaged in these same riots was not damaged when I first visited the church in the late 90's. However, the story of Christ having no hands but our hands does make for a good tale.

    One of the most prominent artifacts in the church is the painting entitled "The Madonna and Child of Soweto” mostly referred to as "The Black Madonna" by Larry Scully in 1973. A highly symbolic element of the painting is a large eye right under the Black Madonna. According to journalist Mpho Lukoto of newspaper The Star, the pupil of the eye represents the township of Soweto; two forks directed towards the pupil from the sides represent the violence that was used against the people of Soweto during the apartheid era, and the cross in the center of the pupil represents the Church that illuminates the people with hope. This is possible, but unlikely as by 1973 most of the “force” had not yet been used.

    From 1995 to 1998, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu presided over Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings at Regina Mundi.

    In March 1998 Regina Mundi President Bill Clinton and wife, Hillary, visited and took Holy Communion during the service. Since neither of the Clintons are Catholic, this caused a furore. Father Mohlomi Makobane, parish priest at the time, found it impossible to refuse the Clintons communion when they joined the rest of the congregation. Makobane said: "Let's be practical. He's a child of God and came willingly to share the Eucharist with us and pray with us ... And he's the most powerful man in the world … If I had denied him communion when he came with the procession … there would have been much more noise." . Makobane however chose to base his sermon on adultery at a time when the scandal around Clinton's adulterous affair hung heavily over the heads of the presidential pair. Makobane recalled the parable of the adulterous woman saved by Jesus Christ from being stoned to death.

    Today, the church continues to play a vital role in the community and welcomes visitors. Tourists from across the world visit the church each day. The church’s garden has been transformed into a striking park, and points of interest include memorial stones donated by Japanese Christians, an art gallery and a plaque recording the history of the church and of Soweto.

    Admission
    Entrance is free but the church welcomes donations towards the maintenance of the church

    Directions
    Khumalo Street, off Elias Motsoaledi Road, Soweto

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Moirads's Profile Photo

    Christ has no hands but our hands

    by Moirads Written Oct 26, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The statue of Christ with no hands
    1 more image

    There are several claims to a story about a statue of Christ which has been damaged by having its hands removed. The “I have no hands but yours” story is touching and usually involves war and bombing. The original story is apparently the one relating to the statue of Jesus outside Christ the King Catholic Church in San Diego. There vandals broke off the hands of the statue.

    This legend has now been adopted by some about the Regina Mundi church in Soweto where there is a statue similarly damaged. The story is being passed around that the statue was damaged by the Apartheid police. There is no substance to this story. The Apartheid police damaged the altar and the crucifix above the alter by shooting at people sheltering there. The statue is a later, and convenient for publicity, addition to the lore of the Regina Mundi Catholic Church.

    The phrase "Christ has no hands but ours" is a reference to this prayer by St. Teresa of Avila.

    Lord Christ,

    You have no body on earth but ours,
    No hands but ours,
    No feet but ours.

    Ours are the eyes through which your compassion
    Must look out on the world.
    Ours are the feet by which you may still
    Go about doing good.

    Ours are the hands with which
    You bless people now.

    Bless our minds and bodies,
    That we may be a blessing to others.

    AMEN

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • catherineneill's Profile Photo

    Soweto Tour

    by catherineneill Updated May 1, 2011
    wall murals in soweto

    A tour to Soweto (coming from SOuth WEstern TOwnship) is a must! Apart from seeing the real South Africa outside of your hotel (although the tours tend to stick to more sterile areas) the area plays a big part in the prelude to the new South Africa.

    It is here that the Soweto uprisings in response to forced Afrikaans language in schools occured, and began a chain of events leading to sanctions and international pressure on Apartheid era South Africa.

    Here there a couple of things to do of note: Hector Pietersen museum (named after a 12 year old boy killed in the riots), Nelson Mandelas old house / museum and the Regina Mundi church. And of course a trip to a local shebeen for some beer and maybe some food?

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    Soweto

    by Airpunk Written Sep 23, 2009

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Welcome to Soweto
    4 more images

    No trip to South Africa is complete without visiting Soweto. Here, history was made in a negative and also in a positive way. As only one of many townships in South Africa, it became the symbol for the fight against Apartheid with the Soweto uprising of 1976 being the best-known event. Many tour guides offer accompanied tours through Soweto, but please take care and go only with certified guides. Although situation is slowly improving, Soweto can still be as dangerous as any township if you don’t know where the safe areas are. A tour should include the Hector Pieterson Museum which shows the events leading to the Uprising of 1976 and its impact on the anti-apartheid movement. Other places woth to visit are the Nelson Mandela house and of course, do not forget to experience the culture of modern Soweto by walking through the township (again: ONLY WITH A CERTIFIED GUIDE!) or eating in a restaurant.

    Soweto was a town of its own between 1983 and 2002. For details on Soweto, please visit my Soweto page on VT.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • WaRPer's Profile Photo

    Soweto Township

    by WaRPer Updated Dec 23, 2006
    Soweto

    I heard them say "Travelling to Johannesburg cannot be completed without a Township visit." So I took one to Soweto, the best-off township in Jo'burg. Coming here you're advised to have a registered local guide with you. There're lots of, what they call themselves, Township Experts to choose from. Most of the tour will take you to Apartheid Museum as well.

    Soweto has a world-class 'Soweto Godspel Choir', you can buy their CDs anywhere across South Africa.

    There're also, fewer agencies that offer a tour to Alexandra, said to be the grimmest township in Johannesburg....

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • jonah1's Profile Photo

    Soweto - biggest township in SA

    by jonah1 Written Aug 15, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A taxi rank in Soweto
    1 more image

    Soweto is the biggest Township in South Africa with a lot of history to accompany it. South Africa is quite a unique destination because of its segregated past where white and black were seperated by the Apartheid laws. While we have beautiful suburbs and big cities much of SA is also still very much 3rd world and the difference between the 1st and 3rd world is very true to a lot of the issues we still face in this country (erasing the inequality that exists because of our past). I believe that it is in EVERYONE's interest to visit a Township and if possible Soweto specifically. It is a fascinating place and despite many obsticles a community of hope and inspiration. Soweto is highly reccomended and there are many tours available in this area. It is advised that you use these operators as they are a sfaer option in travelling these areas. Check outh the link for more on this

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Road Trip
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Sputnikboy's Profile Photo

    Soweto trip

    by Sputnikboy Written Jul 8, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Regina Mundi church
    4 more images

    If you go to Johannesburgh you can't miss a trip to Soweto (South West Township), the larget and most famous township in South Africa.
    Here the 16th June 1976 the black people started rioting against the apartheid.

    Just to be safe, make an organized trip to the towniship, better if organized by the people who lives there. My trip costed about 200 rands.

    While there see how things are changing, houses and services are getting better and how people is generally optimist about the future.

    While there I suggest to visit the Regina Mundi church, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and the house of Nelson Mandela (which is now a sort of little museum, 20 rands the entrance).

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Historical Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Gard's Profile Photo

    Soweto

    by Gard Written Jan 24, 2005
    Squatter camp in Soweto

    Soweto
    It is said that a visit to Joburg is not complete until you have visited Soweto. There are lots of companies that offer tours in the township but we didn’t have to organize this since we had local guides :-) Soweto is located south west of Joburg and the name itself stands for “SOuth WEstern TOwnship”. It is a HUGE area today and the estimate of how many people that live there vary from 1.5 million to 3 million people. Driving into Soweto was like coming to a totally different place at least if you compare it with the rest of Joburg. First of all the houses are much smaller and there is not much vegetation in the form of trees. There were people everywhere and the rumor has it that the unemployment rate is quite high. I guess that also explains all the people that were trying to set up businesses like car wash, car repair shop etc around in Soweto. We started out by visiting the large Catholic Church called Regina Mundi. This church has played a key role in the history of Soweto and the uprising against the apartheid government. There is not that much to see in the church today.

    What surprised me about Soweto was the fact that there were all sorts of houses there. They ranged from typical suburban houses to squatter camp shanties and everything in between. Looking out over the large area that the squatter camp covered has a tendency to put things into perspective. I hope that many of my fellow Norwegians get to travel the world so that we can realize how fortunate we are. I regret not that I didn’t take more pictures in Soweto itself. It would have been great to have some shots of the every day life in this township.

    Was this review helpful?

  • GerryFM's Profile Photo

    Soweto

    by GerryFM Written Nov 18, 2004
    Traditional Medicine (aka

    Soweto is arguably the most famous township in the world. Since SA gained its freedom from apartheid, tours to Soweto have been growing rapidly. Now I must warn you that a tour here is not everybodies cup ot tea. You will see many disturbing things, but at the same time many uplifting things.

    The establishment of Soweto is, like Johannesburg, linked directly to the discovery of Gold in 1885. Thousands of people from around the world and South Africa flocked to the new town to seek their fortunes or to offer their labour. Within 4 years Johannesburg was the second largest city. More than half the population was black, most living in multi racial shanty towns near the gold mines in the centre of the town. As the gold mining industry developed, so did the need for labour increase. Migrant labour was started and most of these workers lived in mine compounds. The first residents of what is now known as Soweto were located into the area called Klipspriut in 1905 following their relocation from “Coolietown” in the centre of Johannesburg as a result of an outbreak of bubonic plague.

    In 1959 the residents of Sophiatown were forcibly removed to Soweto and occupied the area known as Meadowlands. Sir Earnest Oppenheimer, the first chairman of the Anglo American Corporation, was appalled by the housing shortage and was instrumental in arranging a loan for the construction of additional housing and this is commemorated by the Oppenheimer Tower in Jabulani. Soweto falls within the municipality of the Johannesburg Metro Council in the province of Gauteng which appropriately means place of Gold.

    Soweto obtained its name from the first two letters of South Western Township which was the original description of the area.

    “Soweto is a symbol of the New South Africa, caught between old squatter misery and new prosperity, squalor and an upbeat lifestyle, it’s a vibrant city which still openly bears the scars of the Apartheid past and yet shows what’s possible in the New South Africa”

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • queensgirl's Profile Photo

    Soweto Tour is a must for everyone.

    by queensgirl Updated Oct 19, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Soweto township

    Soweto is a township that must be visited by anyone visiting Johannesburg. The people were surprising friendly. The Hector Peterson Museum, Nelson Mandela's house are both truly cultural and a great experience. you acn Winnie Mandela's House along with Desmond Tutu's house also. Will get a sense of South African culture here.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • IIGUANA's Profile Photo

    Soweto

    by IIGUANA Written Dec 4, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Soweto

    If you want to learn something of South Africa, I'd recommend you to visit Soweto. This part of the city is where Nelson Mandela lived in his early years, and where the revolution began. South Africa is free now thanks to ideas that were born in Soweto. A must-see.
    Now, don't even think of going by yourself. There are tours that take you there, 'cause it can be quite dangerous if you experience it by yourself. So ask at the front desk. You won't be dissappointed.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Johannesburg

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

102 travelers online now

Comments

View all Johannesburg hotels