#FindingJozi: Red Bus Tour

By 17:44

When I went to London, I had three days to spend and I wanted to see as much of London as I could. Given that I was alone, the most cost effective way to do that was to do the hop-on-hop-off Red Bus Tour. For two days, it took me all over the most famous landmarks in London and I chose where to hop off and explore further on my own.

As with most people, I don’t know my own city well enough. Last week, I changed that by trying the Johannesburg Red Bus Tour. Although I had been to many of the stops on the itinerary, I hadn’t really done it as a tourist.

We took the Red City Tour and Soweto Combo. You can hop on at any of the stops but I suggest parking at Gold Reef City (parking is free) and starting from there. Here are all the stops:
Gautrain Park Station
- Gandhi Square
- Carlton Centre
- James Hall Transport Museum
- Gold Reef City
- Apartheid Museum
- Mining District Walk
- Newtown
- Origins Centre at Wits
- Braamfontein
- Constitution Hill
- Back to Gautrain Park Station

We started with the Soweto Tour first which I recommend you do as well. The tour is done in a taxi so if you’ve never been in a taxi, you’ll get a taste of it here. The first taxi to Soweto leaves at 10am from Gold Reef City and because it was early in the morning, our group of 6 were the only ones in the taxi. It’s much more fun when you’re exploring with only your friends.

The Soweto Tour is a two hour tour with a guide explaining the history of Joburg, how Soweto came into being and how it has transformed over the years. The two hours is not enough to see everything in detail but it does touch on a little of everything so you can come back and do something specific in a bit more detail. We drove through most of the famous places in Soweto but our specific stops were:
- Soccer City (I’ve never seen Soccer City so quiet before, i.e. without a concert when I usually frequent this venue)
- Diep Kloof (The entrance of Soweto)
- Hector Pieterson Memorial (For a little bit of history not too far from where it all happened)
- Vilakazi Street (We walked past Mandela’s and Desmond Tutu’s houses)
- Kliptown (An amazing tribute to our constitution)

My crew in Soweto

A rather quiet Soccer City

If you look carefully, you can see someone bungee jumping!

Hector Pieterson Memorial

Craft market outside the Hector Pieterson Memorial

Desmond Tutu's house
A quote by Nelson Mandela

The pavement on Vilakazi street

The principles upon which our constitution is built

In no time, our Soweto Tour was over and we were back at Gold Reef City. We jumped on the bus and headed to the hipster hang-out – Braamfontein. Throughout the bus tour, there was running commentary of the interesting history of each area that we passed.

We soon got to Braamfontein and headed straight for lunch at Neighbourgoods Market. Given that we only had a day on the bus, in hindsight, we should have given this a miss. It is way too busy to try to fit in when you have other places to see. I would have rather scheduled this for another Saturday morning. Nevertheless, we checked out some cool stalls and as soon as we got (to the front of the queue to get) lunch, we were on our way to catch the next bus.

Because we spent so much time in Braamfontein and because things close early on the weekend, we weren’t able to do a proper tour of Constitution Hill. But we did get to check out the premises and give ourselves a tour.

The last stop we made was at Carlton Centre – once the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. A uniformed Red Bus Tour guide escorted us from the bus to the Top of Africa and back again. Although, I’ve never really had an issue in this part of town before, it is nice that the security of our tourists is being considered. We bought our tickets and went all the way to the 50th floor. We did a walk around the entire floor checking out famous Joburg landmarks from a breath-taking bird’s eye view.

Will I do this again? Definitely…with friends that haven’t been before. Next time I will make sure that we are able to stop at the Apartheid Museum. This time I was just happy that I got to do the Soweto Tour.  
If you want to find out more, check out their website

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