Tours

Township tours (to Soweto in particular) are offered by a number of local operators. One of the best options is to do a Soweto tour with the City Sightseeing bus, which partners with local operators for tours of Soweto. Wilro Tours and JMT Tours and Safaris offer half-day and full-day tours of Johannesburg and Soweto. For more recommendations of reputable tour operators, inquire at Johannesburg Tourism.

Africa Explore. Africa Explore offers full-day and half-day tours of the Cradle of Humankind area; the full package includes the Kromdraai Gold Mine, Sterkfontein Caves, and the Rhino and Lion Park. 011/917–1999; 072/242–2281; www.africa-explore.co.za. From R925.

City Sightseeing Bus. The City Sightseeing bus is a great and very safe way to see the Johannesburg city center and all its main attractions. The bus departs from 12 locations every 30 minutes from 9 to 5 every day, but the best places to catch it are either at Gold Reef City or Park Station (accessible via the Gautrain). Adults and kids alike will love the experience; there's a special children's soundtrack, and the adult commentary is available in 16 languages. The total trip takes about two hours if you don't get off (though you should consider at least getting off at the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill); you can get a one- or two-day pass. There is also an option to pair it with a Soweto tour, also highly recommended. You can buy your tickets at O. R. Tambo, at Gold Reef City, or Park Station (or you can wait and buy tickets on any City Sightseeing bus), but there's a discount for purchasing them online. Johannesburg, Gauteng. 0861/733–287; www.citysightseeing.co.za. From R150.

JMT Tours and Safaris. JMT Tours and Safaris can arrange tailor-made trips for small groups to a number of destinations. Prices will vary according to where you want to go and how many people are in your group. JMT Tours and Safaris specializes in tours of Soweto but also does the Cradle of Humankind and can take you farther afield. 010/233–0073; 083/307–4390; www.jmttours.com. From R690.

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. Interested in checking out hundreds of heritage buildings? Most are closed to the public, but the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation organizes tours of the houses and gardens, which will give you a glimpse of turn-of-the-20th-century grandeur. Prearranged tours looking at different aspects of Johannesburg's history are arranged for most Saturday mornings and many Wednesday mornings and take about 2½ hours. It's also possible to arrange a private tour if you can do it far enough in advance. Departure points vary by the tour. Johannesburg, Gauteng. 011/482–3349; www.joburgheritage.co.za. From R100.

Mynhardts Diamonds. Mynhardts Diamonds sells diamonds and jewelry, and specializes in women's and men's rings, especially engagement and wedding rings. The company makes up the rings from loose stones on demand and even offers a 3-D rendering so you can see how your ring will look. It's best to make an appointment. 011/484–1719; www.mynhardts.com.

Palaeo-Tours. Palaeo-Tours specializes in half-day tours to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Participants are given the opportunity to observe a working dig at Drimolen, where more than 100 early hominid fossils have been found, among many other paleontological discoveries. The experience, guided by a scientist, will be extra-special because so few people have access to this site. It's certainly not a cheap tour, though the per-person price drops if you have more than two in your group. Transportation from Pretoria is R1,600 from Johannesburg or Pretoria (above and beyond the cost of the tour). Palaeo-Tours will also do a full-day tour on request. 011/023–4234; www.palaeotours.com. From R3700.

Springbok Atlas. Springbok Atlas offers two- to three-hour tours (including self-drive tours) of Johannesburg to the city center, Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, and other points of interest. Other tours explore Tshwane, the diamond-mining town of Cullinan, Sun City, and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. 011/396–1053; www.springbokatlas.com. From R450.

Wilro Tours. Wilro Tours is one of the best-known operators in Johannesburg and offers tours of Soweto, Johannesburg, and farther afield, such as the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. With Wilro, you hire the car and guide for a number of hours, and can mix and match attractions and activities such as shopping as you wish. Tours have a base price, so per-person rates drop dramatically the more people you have on the tour. 011/789–9688; www.wilrotours.co.za. From R2340.

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