Sat Aug 23 01:34:53 SAST 2014

Explore your backyard - Tour Soweto

Dec 16, 2012 | Bongiwe Sithole |

WE Gautengers are quick to pack our bags and take a sho't left to destinations across the country for our festive holidays.

So why not keep it local this year?

An option that many still think is exclusively for international tourists is to go on one of the Soweto township tours.

On a recent roundabout trip of Soweto, of which I am a resident, I gained a very different experience of the township.

Areas of interest include the historical Orlando Towers - an adrenaline experience of a lifetime.

Activities on offer include rock climbing, paintball shooting, scad free-fall, rap jumping, base jumping, quad biking and getting your eye in at the shooting range.

At the special December price of R650 you can get to both bungee jump and power swing.

Touring around the neighbourhood and getting up close and personal with residents is as easy as ABC when you and the family jump on a tuk-tuk car or bicycle at a cost of between R280 and R460.

You can opt for a two-hour, four-hour or full-day guided bicycle tour.

Costs vary according to duration.

One tour takes one on a visit to an old apartheid-era workers' hostel in Mzimhlophe to experience what conditions were like back then.

Arousing memories of the 1976 Soweto uprising, the Hector Pieterson Museum, Nelson Mandela's Soweto home, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's home and the home where Winnie Madikizela-Mandela now lives are all within walking distance of each other.

Also worth viewing is the architecturally aesthetic Soweto Theatre that was opened this year. If you are lucky enough, you can also catch some live entertainment at this world-class venue.

Over the festive period, the theatre will be hosting such shows as Spirit of the Bones, a production about traditional healers (abangoma) and Bantustan, a protest theatre work based on the painful past of the brothers Charles and Lennox Sebe.

And adults can look forward to a session of laughter at a one-man comedy show with Jay Boogie.

Top-notch guesthouses rated up to three stars abound and charge between R450 and R800 a night, including a hearty breakfast.

Kate Luthaga's B&B in Orlando West, for instance, has hosted international and local guests and is only a short walk from the immaculate Vilakazi Precinct.

Luthaga says she likes to take her guests to the popular Sakhumzi Restaurant, where a delicious, proudly South African, traditional buffet can be enjoyed for only R120.

"Most of our foreign visitors like to visit the squatter camps and orphanages because they like to learn about the different lifestyles in our country," says Luthaga.

sitholeb@avusa.co.za or Twitter @bongirand2

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