I consider myself a connoisseur of Joburg walking tours. When I found out there is a skateboarding tour of Joburg, I obviously had to try it.
I somehow made it through more than four decades of life without riding a skateboard. How different could it be from walking? I thought.
Quite different, as it turns out. Standing on a four-wheeled piece of wood, sailing downhill, is nothing like walking at all — it’s both far more exhilarating and far more terrifying.
I’m really glad I did the tour but the next time I’m going to spend less time taking pictures and more time actually learning how to skateboard. Let’s just say I still have a long way to go.
Skateboarding with City Skate Tours
Marie-Lais and I met our guides from City Skate Tours, Ayanda Mnandu and Tshepo Tsotsotso, and fellow tourist Tiffanie at Curiocity Backpackers in Maboneng. We spent a half hour or so learning skateboarding basics on the hill in front of Curiocity. Ayanda and Tshepo are great teachers.
After many tries, I felt like I was sort of getting the hang of getting on and off the board, speeding up and slowing down. I didn’t really figure out how to turn, but I kind of figured out how to not veer off the road.
Then I got off the board and spent the rest of the practice session taking pictures.
Before we set off, a woman walked past me. “Are you sure you want to do this with your CAMERA?” she asked. I laughed, slung my camera across my shoulder, and off we went, rolling slowly down Fox Street and hanging a right into the heart of the city.
We spent less time skateboarding than we did walking, carrying the boards with us and hopping on when we found a good spot without too many people or cars. Ayanda told us about Joburg as we walked. Obviously Marie-Lais and I know most of the Joburg story already. But the information was great for Tiffanie, who is a tour operator from Jamaica. We cruised through New Doornfontein, admiring the graffiti along the way.
From New Doornfontein we caught an Uber through the busiest part of the city and got out near the old City Hall building, now the Gauteng Legislature.
Marie-Lais took a bit of a fall but got right back up again and carried on. We all applauded. I hadn’t fallen yet, but to be honest I hadn’t ridden my board very much.
We made our way to Beyers Naudé Square, in front of the Joburg City Library. This is one of the most popular skateboarding spots in the city.
At this point I asked Tshepo to record an iPhone video of me riding my skateboard. This is also the point in which I fell, hard. Actually I didn’t just fall — I wiped out spectacularly. It was pretty epic and I still have a couple of bruises from it two weeks later. (I was totally fine though.)
Those of you who follow me on Instagram might have been lucky enough to catch the fall in my Instagram story that day. (You’re welcome.) If not, well, I’m sorry for you. You missed out on a good laugh and Instagram stories only stay up for 24 hours.
I suppose it’s important to fall while learning to skateboard and I was silly to think I could escape that embarrassment. The best news is my camera survived completely intact, despite hitting the pavement fairly hard. (Thank god for my lens hood, which broke the fall just enough to protect the camera.) Needless to say, that lady was right and I will not be skateboarding with my camera again.
This tour is a great way to see the city from a slightly different perspective, especially if you’ve done other walking tours and are keen for something new. I recommend it. Just leave your DSLR behind and wear a helmet.
My City Skate Tour was complimentary. Opinions expressed are my own.