Skateboarding tour in front go graffiti

Skateboarding Across Jozi

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.

Skateboarding tour in front go graffiti
From left to right: Ayanda, Tiffanie, Marie-Lais, and Tshepo during our City Skate Tour, in front of a graffiti piece by Tapz.

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.

Marie-Lais skateboardingWith help from Tshepo, Marie-Lais sails bravely down the hill in front of Curiocity.

Tiffanie and Amanda practice skateboardingAyanda imparts some skateboarding tips to Tiffanie.

Tshepo skateboardingTshepo shows us how it’s done.

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.

Skateboarding at the Gauteng LegislaturePracticing in front of the Gauteng Legislature.

Guy skateboarding in front of legislatureA random passerby who asked to borrow a skateboard.

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.

Skating down Fox StreetSkating/walking down Fox Street.

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.

"Democracy is Dialogue" statue in Beyers Naude SquareThe stunning “Democracy is Dialogue” sculpture in Beyers Naudé Square. The sculpture, by Lawrence Lemaoana, portrays a mother wielding a molotov cocktail.

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.

Heather with a skateboardI think I look pretty cool holding a skateboard. I looked way less cool riding/falling off of it. (Photo: Marie-Lais Emond).

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.

To arrange a tour, contact Ayanda at cityskatetours@gmail.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Ayanda skating past the Nelson Mandela portrait at Museum AfricaAyanda skating past Museum Africa in Newtown.

My City Skate Tour was complimentary. Opinions expressed are my own.

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14 Comments

  • Reply autumnashbough April 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Is skateboarding popular in South Africa? It’s huge here. I see dads picking up their kids from school on skateboards!

    • Reply 2summers April 2, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Hmm. It’s fairly popular but definitely not THAT popular. Probably because traffic is crazy skateboarding to your kid’s school could very easily lead to getting run over by a minibus taxi.

      • Reply autumnashbough April 2, 2018 at 6:28 pm

        Yeah, no taxis here. Just soccer moms in SUVs multitasking.

        • Reply 2summers April 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm

          That’s dangerous too.

          • autumnashbough April 2, 2018 at 9:34 pm

            God, yes. But it’s the retirees that are the most frightening by far.

  • Reply dizzylexa April 2, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I was fortunate to watch your “wipeout” and you are very lucky that both you and the camera got off lightly except for the bruising. It does however look like a fun tour.

    • Reply 2summers April 2, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      It was! All good as long as my camera is good 🙂

  • Reply eremophila April 2, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    I love the idea of skateboarding, if it had been around when I was younger I’d have done it. Now, I can’t afford an injury…….But one day before I die I intend to do it. Not with a camera! So glad yours is ok.

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      I really wish I’d tried it when I was younger! I’m sure it would have been easier for me to learn 30 years ago. Unfortunately I grew up in a rural area where there was really nowhere to skateboard.

  • Reply Eva Melusine Thieme April 3, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Oh Heather, the things you won’t do in the name of blogging! Would have loved to do this with you, always up to taking on new challenges. When the hover boards were the latest hit, I tried one at a friend’s house when we were over for dinner, and I wouldn’t get off the rest of the night, circling around their kitchen island the entire time. I could see getting hooked on skateboarding!

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      I don’t think hover boards even exist in SA!

      • Reply Eva Melusine Thieme April 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        Maybe just as well, seeing as they were found to randomly combust…

  • Reply violetonlineisonline April 3, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    this is one thing I do NOT want to do.
    but well bloody done!

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      😂

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