We were collected by Chris from our hotel at 0830 in his 4 wheel drive vehicle. We had all our luggage with us as were were flying out that evening and Chris had agreed to drop us at the airport at the end of the tour. Chris began the tour straight away chatting about the large houses in one of the leafy suburbs of Joburg. He is extremely knowledgable about the city and delivered his tour with lots of facts and he clearly has a passion for the new South Africa. It was wonderful to listen to his optimism for the future and his despair at the past events.
He met people along the way as if they were his best friends and they would respond in a like manner . We often asked him how well he knew the people we encountered and he said that with some of them it was the first time.
We toured Soweto which was a very uplifting experience . We were slightly ashamed that we thought we were visiting a very poor and dangerous area. To our surprise and delight we found Soweto to be a vibrant upwardly mobile area with friendly people. It was an amazing community and Chris said that after 1994 people could actually own their own homes. This led to people having more pride in where they lived and the community spirit grew from there. We met one of the residents and elderly man sitting on a rock watering his very beatiful and well manicured garden. We spent 5 minutes chatting with him and he said he was using the garden to show people that you can make a difference and that although he would never forget the many lives which were lost he was full of optimism for Soweto. It made us feel very humble.
All through the tour Chris kept us engaged with the history of South Africa and the troubles.
We then visited Nelson Mandellas house in Soweto which was once again a humbling experience and very emotional even for a couple from the uk on their first visit to the country. One of the many fascinating exhibits in the house is a dustbin lid with bullet holes. This was used by Mandela to protect him and his family from the attacks made on the house by the Police. Hard to imagine him standing there with just a dustbin lid to protect the family. Our guide was superb and took us round the house pointing out the major things and then we were left to browse by ourselves and take photographs. A must see place.
The morning was full of visits to interesting locations and many many fascinating stories.
Chris then took us for lunch at the food market, which tuned out two be a large number of food stalls set up in a multi storey car park. The range of food available was amazing and the car park was buzzing with a mixture of people. The atmosphere was buzzing and friendy. We sampled paella cooked in a huge dish right in front of us. It was superb and the best paella I have ever tasted. Cooked on a gas ring In a car park. Amazing.
We the continued the tour with visits to several locations connected with gold mining. Once again fascinating and very informative. We visited the building where Nelson Mandela practised law. The locations are too numerous to mention here but every single one had us engaged .
Chris finished with taking us up the Carlton tower where from the 50 th floor we could see a 360 degree view of the city. The visibility and the view was Superb and Chris proudly pointed out the areas where regenaration was in progress.
We were then dropped at the airport ready for our return flight. We were tired but both agreed that the day had been fascinating , humbling shocking and uplifting. A great experience that we would recommend to anyone interested in the history and the future of South Africa.
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