Here’s the deal I’m by no means a closed-minded individual, I love Joburg, I walk the city and I sure as hell don’t think that Maboneng and Braamfontein are real reflection of Johannesburg. What I don’t know much about is Soweto and the numerous other townships that border beautiful Johannesburg. Why don’t I know anything about these areas other than what I’ve read up out of curiosity? Well to be honest I’m afraid, I get the shivers driving through or even past a township because I’m afraid of my window being smashed or my car being stolen.So I feel the same way about Soweto as so many feel about Joburg city. People always ask if it’s safe and I laugh and say of course it is (idiots, but what do they know, they’ve always been to afraid to venture in. When I realised that I sounded like all the people I secretly laugh at for being afraid of the city I knew it was time to ease myself out of my comfort zone and into understanding a space that I’ve always been too nervous to explore.
My first step was to pay Lebo’s Backpackers a visit and take one of their cycling tours and spend a night in Orlando West, I said easing in! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I talked my good friend Samantha into attending the Soweto Derby with me and the heading through to Lebo’s for the night.
If you haven’t attended the Soweto Derby, drop what you’re doing, and buy a ticket for the next game…or at least put a reminder in your calendar, why you ask? BECAUSE IT’S FLIPPING AWESOME. The Derby is the biggest sporting event in Africa and is a match between two of Soweto’s greatest football teams – Pirates and Chiefs. Get into the vibe, pick a side and get ready to be treated by some of the friendliest faces you’ll ever see. Just a note if you’re not into load noises bring ear plus, the Vuvuzelas are flipping loud. After the match we headed through to Lebo’s Backpackers which was only about ten minutes from the stadium. From the minute I arrived at Lebo’s Backpackers I had goosebumps, it was a little unreal. Every single staff member at Lebo’s was extremely helpful, always smiling and just the best. Accommodation at the backpackers is really well priced and it’s well with staying a night and enjoying their outdoor bar and delicious South African food. Here are the fees if you’re looking to book:
– Dormitory R160 per person a night
– Single Room R270 a night
– Double Room R390 per room a night
– Camping R105 (own tent) or R135 (their tent) per person a night That brings me to the food, man the food is so great and so South African in every way, if you’re a tourist this is where you should go for a delicious authentic meal. Lebo’s offers fantastic breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Breakfast at the backpackers doesn’t cost more than R55, I had a Small Cooked Breakfast, which includes Bacon/Sausage, Eggs, Tomato, Cheese, Toast/ Magwinya, and Juice (R45). If you’re wondering what Magwinya is it’s Vetkoek, really delicious fresh Vetkoek. If you’re joining them on the Bicycle Tour you’ll also get a fresh lunch made up of steaming bunny chow with a chicken, beef or vegetarian option. For dinner we had a great braai with a pap and sous that are reason enough to go back to Lebo’s.
Okay so now you’re probably wondering about the Bicycle Tour, if you can’t stay a night at the backpackers you need to book off a morning and make time for the tour. I’ve been lucky enough to do so many amazing things around the city, the Soweto bicycle tour is probably in my top five things to do.
The Bicycle Tours range between two hours, four hours and a full day tour. I went on the two hour tour which covers Soweto’s key heritage sites and a walking tour through Orlando West, which is a real eye opener. The tour also includes a quick visit to a Shebeen where we got to try out some Umqombothi, pap and meat and of course a few sips of ice cold Black Label. Our guides had us singing along to songs and had us captivated by a million different unknown facts about South Africa and Soweto. The two hour tour will cost R350 if you’re staying over and R430 if you’re just joining them for the tour. If you have little stick legs like me be prepared to cycle up a few hills on the tour but nothing too hectic. Where should my next stop be? I can’t wait to learn more.
Operating hours: All day everyday
Address: 10823A Pooe Street, Orlando West, Soweto