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Ways to Experience South Western Townships
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Reviewed July 13, 2013

We toured Soweto by bicycle through Soweto Bike Tours (reviewed separately) and would highly recommend a tour of this area by whatever means you are comfortable.

During our tour, we saw both sides of modern-day Soweto...the more affluent areas, including the Mendell home and Desmond Tutu home, and the poorer area which is much like the settlements on the outskirts of nearly every South African community. In the poor area, we were able to sit down with some of the residents and talk with them about their lives in Soweto and interact with the children, who loved to pose for pictures and then wanted to see the results.

In the poorer area, where large families live in small one-room homes or shanty shacks and share just a few common water faucets and toilets for hundreds of people, we were impressed by how happy, friendly, clean and neatly dressed the residents were. Coming from and affluent society, this really made us realize how very spoiled we are.

In the USA, such a tour might be seen as exploiting the misfortunes of the residents and we certainly would have felt unwelcome, and possibly in danger, if we were to tour a poorer area. In Soweto that was definitely not the case. We were welcomed, and greeted (high-fived by the children) everywhere we went. Rather than exploitation, this was much more an experience of education and understanding of life for blacks in South Africa, both in the past and present.

We find it interesting the nearly all of the negative reviews of this attraction are from South African residents. Could this be that they are just too close to the situation to understand the impact this type of tour can have on those who have not lived with it their whole lives?

This is definitely an experience that any visitor to South Africa should not miss.

Thank MNMauiGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

We all expected this to be a somewhat scary experience. Instead, everyone we met was warm and interested in us and in talking about their lives. We toured with Big Six Tours and it was worth it to see be able to learn about the history, the neighborhoods, the culture and the evolution of the townships. Stop in to the Hector Pieterson museum while there as it was educational and gave a memorable point of reference for all of us.

Thank KKalimanis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

After 3 weeks in South Africa where we had seen townships on the edge of every city, it was incredibly enlightening to take a tour of Soweto and learn more about township living generally. Our guide Kearan was a Soweto resident, and he was an incredible resource in explaining both the history and sociology of Soweto. We were surprised that many parts of Soweto were more prosperous and better developed than other townships I'd seen, but also walked through Kliptpwn (one of the "unpermitted" settlements for the poorest of the poor) and were devastated by the living conditions there. It is really important to see and understand this, but also uncomfortable to be a tourist peering at people's lives.

1  Thank Christine T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2013

My tour of the Soweto township was initially mixed as I resented the idea of having a stadium seat to human struggles. Having said that, I would have missed out if I had not pushed myself to do this tour. I have never seen nor experienced such resilience and hope in a community. It helped me to understand how much more I should be doing and that we have a lot to be grateful for. I learned so much from the people I met including the kids from kliptown. They did an amazing performance for us and I will relive that joy and laughter for years to come...until at least I can return. Please visit Kliptown and see the kids they are AMAZING!!

1  Thank Brookeburke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 30, 2013 via mobile

I attended a short tour of Soweto with a local guide and learned a great deal about its residents and how they live. Soweto is much more than a shanty-town as I had preconceived it. It's residents are proud people with an interesting history. It is the home of bishop Tutu and of course Nelson Mandela. There is widespread poverty but also some remarkable prosperous neighbourhoods where the residents look out for each other. Well worth a visit.

1  Thank Geoscientist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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