Dillon and I had 2 friends, Craig and Eleni, come down to South Africa, from the UK, as a pit stop before they head off to Australia to explore down under. Their goal for coming to South Africa was to experience our culture on a budget.
At the time, Dillon and I were still living in Gauteng and so we decided that we would take them on a day trip to Soweto – along with a few other things, like a trip to the Vaal dam at our family owned home, as well as a trip to the Sterkfontein caves.
In all my excitement for our day trip through Soweto, I spent a good week or 2 planning the round trip through the South Western Township. Since Dillon and I had not been to Soweto, we were looking to get the most out of our day trip into the township. I mapped out our journey on Google Maps to make sure that we would utilize our time effectively.
If you are planning a trip in a certain city, I recommend mapping it out on Google Maps. Maps allows you to add multiple destinations and even change the order of the trip so that you can plan which destination you want to see and in what order.
We started our day trip by taking C & E to see the Calabash, a.k.a the FNB Stadium. After taking a few cool pictures here, we headed to the home of the Orlando Pirates – the Caltex Orlando Stadium. Both Dillon and ‘C’ love football and will follow it anywhere in the world if they could, so to keep them interested in the day trip I let them see the stadiums first. 😉
Coming down from their excitement, we hopped into the car and headed off to go and spend a couple of hours in the Hector Pieterson Museum. We took a couple of hours to stroll through and read almost all of the information that the museum has on it’s walls. The Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial is a great place to take both international and local tourists for them to understand a little bit more about Apartheid, the 16th of June 1976, and a get some insight on South African history.
Next on my list of things to see and do was a walk through the Mandela House on Vilakazi Street. This house is filled with Nelson Mandela’s history and his life in Soweto.
Now if you want to experience local and traditional food cooked to perfection then I would suggest you stop by Wandies Place for lunch! We stopped past here and it was absolutely incredible. I ate things that I would never usually dream of putting on my plate!
By the way, I highly recommend trying out the chicken feet. 😉
If you are more into your street food then I would suggest you rather get your hands on a Kota, also know as spatlho or skhambane. You will find them at pretty much any of the street vendors. A Kota is a half loaf of bread stuffed with anything and everything to make your cholesterol levels sky rocket. It’s delicious, and all the locals have their very own unique and special rendition of the street food.
In fact, there is a festival dedicated to these huge meals, and it is taking place today and tomorrow at the Soweto Theatre, so make sure you get your hands on some tickets and go try out a Kota. http://www.gauteng.net/events/soweto-kota-festival
After finishing lunch we head off to go and see the iconic Regina Mundi Church. This church is the largest Roman Catholic church in South Africa and is definitely a must see.
Now, we couldn’t go into Soweto without heading to the famous graffiti covered cooling towers – the Orlando Power Station – for some bungee jumping and paintball. Unfortunately I have an aweful fear of heights and so I did not bungee, but from the smiles on other faces on the day, I would recommend trying it out. If you are like me, and heights scare you but you have a high pain threshold, then head behind the towers for some paintball fun. The base of the cooling tower has been turned into an urban battlefield where you can fire away at your friends!
After a few social drinks and some serious fun it was time to head home. We stopped past the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital just to show C & E one last famous building in Soweto, and then made our way to Sandton City to a roof top bar for sundowners and a great night out!