Jozi Top Fives: Walking Tours Edition

I wrote a feature about Joburg walking tours for the February 2015 issue of BA High Life magazine. I’m really excited about the article but you’ll only be able to read the full feature if you’re flying on British Airways in Southern Africa this month.

JoburgWalks1 resized

Here’s a screen shot of the first page of the article. 

I posted screenshots of the article on Facebook and it garnered so much interest that I’ve decided to do a shortened version for the blog. And since five walking tours were featured in the article it provides a perfect excuse to revive my “Jozi Top Fives” series from last year.

So here are my five favorite Joburg walking tours, in no particular order.

1) JoburgPlaces: Regenerated Inner City Tour
www.joburgplaces.com

I’ve written about Gerald Garner’s JoburgPlaces tours many times before: See here and here and here. I like his Regenerated Inner City tour the best because it provides a great overview of how Joburg was born and how it became the city that it is today. Gerald has a special way of telling Joburg’s story and he also has access to many of the best rooftops in town.

Cat looking down

A feral cat outside the Anglo American building on Main Street, spotted during a JoburgPlaces evening walking tour.

2) Dlala Nje: Taste of Yeoville Tour
www.dlalanje.org

I love Dlala Nje, first and foremost because they are based in Ponte City, my favorite building in Joburg. Also Dlala Nje is one of the only companies doing tours in Hillbrow and Yeoville. Read some of my posts about Dlala Nje here and here and here. Their Taste of Yeoville tour is my favorite because it revolves around food but you can’t go wrong with any of Dlala Nje’s tours.

Yeoville at night

Yeoville by night.

3) Past Experiences: Inner City Graffiti Tour
http://pastexperiences.co.za

Past Experiences leads all kinds of interesting walking tours in downtown Joburg — shopping tours and historical tours and public art tours. But as far as I know they are the only company in town doing graffiti tours. I have a soft spot for Past Experiences’ Inner City Graffiti tour in Newtown, as I met my boyfriend on that tour. (He works as a part-time guide for Past Experiences.)

The best thing about a graffiti tour, in my opinion, is that you can do the tour over and over again. The walls are always changing.

Bias mural

The first photo I ever shot of Ray’s graffiti.

4) Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre: Heritage Tour
http://sophiatown.net

I featured the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre in my Jozi Top Five post about museums and galleries, but the affiliated Sophiatown Heritage walking tour also deserves a mention. I first did this tour a few years ago and then again late last year. I loved it both times. This tour is the only way to fully comprehend what happened during Sophiatown’s brutal forced removals of the 1950s.

Sophiatown Mielies

The mielie lady of Sophiatown.

5) MainStreetWalks: Underground Pub Crawl
www.mainstreetwalks.co.za

I blogged about the MainStreetWalks Underground Pub Crawl recently so many of you might remember it. If you want to experience Jozi nightlife from a totally new perspective, take this tour. MainStreetWalks also does unique daytime tours of downtown Joburg, including picnics at the top of the Carlton Centre, and partners with Dlala Nje on the weekend-long Jozi immersion tour.

Pub crawl Fairview Bar

Pool player at the Fairview Inn, a stop of the Underground Pub Tour.

There are many other great walking tours in Joburg, including tours by Ancient Secrets and the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. And there are probably more that I don’t know about yet. Suggestions are welcome.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Sine February 7, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Heather, I always LOVE your top 5 posts. 5 is such an easy number to remember. Someone could just read all your top 5 posts and get to know a lot of Joburg that way. Well done, and a pity I no longer live there to sample any of them. (Though I did the Past Experiences Graffity Tour myself, and I’d mention Joburg Photowalkers here as well, for another tour that takes you cool places you might not normally go. Oh, and there is also Joburg Skechers, for the artistically inclinded…). I will, however, share this with my readers!

    • Reply 2summers February 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks Sine. All good additions.

  • Reply Sine February 7, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Oh, and I almost forgot: Congrats for landing the BA article, that is very cool! I know what hard work it entails to land freelance jobs for magazines. Especially the ones that pay:-) And then what patience it entails waiting for them to finally print it (I’m exercising that patience at the very moment…)

    • Reply 2summers February 8, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Yes, I also get very impatient waiting for the article to get published, especially since that’s also when you get paid.

      • Reply Sine February 8, 2015 at 7:20 pm

        Yep! After a few weeks, you start thinking they might have changed their mind. But I guess editorial calendars are made waaaaay in advance…

  • Reply Patrick February 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Well done on getting the BA article! When I first visited Johannesburg in 2011 I was working temporarily in Parktown and Sandton (travelling every fortnight back to London) – and I realised after finding your site that there was plenty of things to see in Johannesburg. I longed to get into Ponte – and so last April, I flew down to go on the Dlala Nje Hillbrow tour – fantastic. I also visited the Yeoville market, Guildhall Pub in the CBD, Braamfontien, bought a Sotho blanket around Diagonal street. got up inside the Markhams clocktower on Eloff Street (very kind staff in there!). Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing the next places to find in the downtown!

    • Reply 2summers February 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Wow! Congrats on being s great Jozi adventurer and thsnks so much for the comment, Patrick.

  • Reply Jonker - Firefly February 10, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Amazing how walking tours are getting more and more popular. Its a great way to get ground level experience of an area and interact with the locals.

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