On a tour with Dlala Nje last weekend, I visited some high-rise rooftops in Berea.
Pigeons enjoy a view of Ponte City from the roof of the Metropolitan building in Berea.
I’ve written about Jozi’s rooftops before (read here and here and here). And here’s the thing about these rooftops: They’re the greatest places in town to enjoy the city, and yet a huge proportion of the city’s population never visits them. Because the best rooftops tend to be in the parts of town where people are scared to go to.
Berea is one of those parts of town. It’s adjacent to Hillbrow, and most Joburgers consider Hillbrow a no-go zone. Fortunately tour companies like Dlala Nje and JoburgPlaces and Past Experiences are helping to change things, encouraging people to come into town on tours like this one.
I, for one, jumped onto this tour as soon as I saw the listing. I can never have enough Jozi rooftopping in my life.
The tour concept was simple. We met at Dlala Nje’s headquarters in Ponte City, walked through Berea to the first building, walked some more to the second building, then went back to Ponte for the best Jozi skyline view in town.
Before the tour started, my friend Fiver and I made a quick visit to Ponte’s core.
Once the whole group was gathered, we headed out of Ponte and up a steep hill to the Metropolitan.
I can’t remember how many floors the Metropolitan is, but I think it’s about 20. The building seems to be fully occupied and very well-run.
The Hillbrow/Berea area is where all the hip young Joburg professionals lived in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It’s the only part of town where you have dozens of high-rise residential buildings packed in closely together. The huge cylinder in the background is the Hillbrow Tower.
We spent 30 minutes or so on top of the Metropolitan, then squeezed into the elevators to get down and walked several blocks to the Tygerberg.
The Tygerberg — which used to be one of the hottest residential addresses in Joburg — is bigger, more crowded, and more chaotic than the Metropolitan. It took us about 20 minutes of waiting in line to finally get on the elevator to the 23rd floor.
When I got to the roof of the Tygerberg, the first thing I noticed was Ponte.
The second thing I noticed was the fantastic school choir lined up with the skyline behind them, performing for our group.
Barnato Park High School is in Berea; our Dlala Nje guide, Franck, attended the school himself and arranged for the choir to perform for us. (A portion of the proceeds from our tour were donated to the Barnato choir.) We listened to the choir sing while munching on roasted mielies (corn on the cob) and taking photos of the sunset.
Fiver and I were the last people to leave the rooftop.
We made our way back to Ponte just after sunset. Although we didn’t go to Ponte’s actual rooftop (I hope to make it up there someday, though), we got the next best thing — a visit to one of Ponte’s rad penthouse apartments in the 51st floor.
And this, my friends, is the way to end a walking tour in Joburg. (I couldn’t decide which top-of-Ponte photo to post here. Check out a slightly different version on my Instagram account.)
This Dlala Nje tour was a “special edition”, meaning it was a once-off. They’ll be doing a different special edition tour every month from now on. (Check out Dlala Nje’s Facebook page for event updates.)
I’ll have more rooftop posts coming soon, I’m sure. I always do.