Because I enjoyed my first tour of Johannesburg with MoAfrika Tours, I decided to take another of their tours, the Soweto Night Tour. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Soweto last time but because it was so far from where I was staying in Sandton, it would have cost an arm and a leg in an Uber. And since I'm not from there, I wouldn't have known where the hot spots were. This tour was the perfect solution.
Our driver, Sonny (same guide I had last time!) picked us up from the hotel around 6 p.m. There ended up being three other people on our tour so after we picked them up at their respective hotels, we arrived in Soweto around 7:30 pm. Before getting down to business, Sonny gave us the lowdown on some typical Soweto hand gestures and lingo. He also showed us where Winnie Mandela currently lives.
Our first stop on the tour was Sakhumzi on Vilakazi Street. During the day, Sakhumzi is pretty much where all the tourists go. But at night, it's alive with music, drinks and locals having a good time. We each ordered drinks, while Sonny ordered the local beer called "Shake Shake." Shake Shake is a homemade beer, the main grains used being malted sorghum and maize, but it may also contain millet. It's only about .5% ABV on day one, but as fermentation continues in the carton, the stronger it gets. We took turns drinking from the ritual cup (LOL) and it turned out to be quite the group bonding experience. Not to mention the beer actually tasted pretty good! I'd definitely drink it again.
Our second stop was back to Chaf Pozi...my favorite! We went there during the Ultimate Johannesburg Tour so I was excited to head back. Here, we ate typical South African dishes, including chakalaka (my absolute favorite South African food, hands down), pap (sort of like grits or maize), grilled beef, sausage and chicken. Needless to say, this was probably my favorite stop. There was a DJ playing a wide array of music so people were up dancing and having a great time. As partygoers started to leave, we thought it was time we head to our next stop.
So here is where it got a little tricky...
Stops #3 and #4
After leaving Chaf Pozi, we headed to another popular club, 'The Rock', but unfortunately it was closed. Sonny used his connects to try and figure out what else was going on in Soweto on a Saturday night. Meanwhile, I had asked our waitress at Chaf Pozi what other places were popular. She told me that 'News Cafe' and 'The Establishment' were the places to go, so I had them in the back of my mind.
Sonny took us to another local place (I forget the name) but it didn't look like all that great a time. It actually just looked like a big parking lot with people standing around. No bueno. We ended up driving around for about 20 minutes before I mentioned 'The Establishment.' Turns out we had driven by it earlier in the evening and indeed it was a popular establishment. As a group, we decided that would be our best bet. We actually ended up liking this place because it was large, had both indoor and outdoor seating, and waitresses take your drink orders all night long. Winning!
Unfortunately, because Sonny was wearing shorts they wouldn't let him in, but he let us stay and enjoy the night until about 11:30 p.m. We had a great time and I would do it all over again! I highly recommend this tour because it allows you to see a different side to Soweto; one not crowded with visitors during the daytime. At night, I really think the township comes alive and you get the real flavor for what Soweto is all about.
A few things to remember:
- You're still a visitor. Don't get too comfortable and forget to mind your surroundings.
- Go with the flow. One person in our group was getting frustrated because we had to drive around a bit to find the next spot. Don't let that be you. Nightlife constantly changes, which means so do the hot spots. Relax and be flexible.
- Don't forget to tip your tour guide!