Given the choice between the following...

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Jun 1st, 2003, 07:07 PM
  #1
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Given the choice between the following...

two tours, which would you choose:


Sterkfontein Caves, Wonder Cave & Lesedi Cultural Village
Rating
Duration 6 Hours
Departure 08h30
Cost R750 per person (Lunch included)

Visit the Sterkfontein and Wonder Caves found in the dolomite hills and valleys of the Isaac Stegman Nature Reserve internationally known for its palaeontological sites containing the oldest relics of humankind.
Sterkfontein Cave: The site of the famous Mrs. Ples (Plesianthropus Transvaalenis) discovered by Dr Robert Broom, who once described this as the anthropological treasure house of the world.

Wonder Cave: A 2 200 million years old natural wonder with an enormous chamber having a volume of 46 000m3. The walls of the cave are decorated with spectacular 16 metres high formations, these include rimstone pools, cave pearls, popcorn, straw & mushroom formations and a formation resembling the praying Madonna. Enter by lift, no crawling necessary.

Lesedi Cultural Village: Share in the exciting Monati experience with a vibrant traditional African welcome and a refreshing welcoming drink. Browse the Ndebele village and craft market where murals decorate the walls and courtyard. Attend a multi-visual presentation on the history and origin of the Zulu, Xhosa, Basotho and Pedi people. Take a guided tour of traditional homesteads followed by cultural song and communal dancing around the fire in the Boma. Experience the warmth of true rural African culture, first hand.

OR

Soweto Cultural Tour - #002
Rating
Duration Half Day - Departure Time At Client's Leisure
Cost R465 per person

Take a guided tour of Soweto, one of South Africa's largest cities, a city formed under the apartheid regime whose name is derived from the words ?South-West-Township?. The tour provides a unique opportunity to experience this vibrant township, the spaza shops, shebeens and urban hospitality. Remember those who struggled for freedom.

Visit the many places of interest like Vilikazi street in Orlando west, the former president's home before his imprisonment; the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, entered into the Guinness Book of Records of 1997 as the largest in the world, and the Hector Peterson Memorial (Hector Peterson was the first victim of the 1976 uprisings).

Includes Lunch at the very well known
shabeen, Wandies and personalized agendas.

____________________________________________

I don't know if I am subconsciously trying to avoid Soweto or whether I just am looking for something that is still African but different. If I am told by trusted Fodorites that the Soweto tour is not to be missed then I think that is the way to go. But, if anyone has been on both of these tours and can make an educated choice between the two of them, I would be very interested.

I probably need to book this tour no later than Tuesday (I leave to South Africa on Wednesday).

Thanks.
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 01:43 AM
  #2
 
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I've not been on either of these organised tours, but have been to both locations so can provide the following comment. It really does boil down to what you are interested in most. I'm probably going to hack off some people with these opinions, so do remember that these are my opinions only.

The "Cradle of Humankind" area is very interesting, and I had to pinch myself for a reality check when looking at some of the fossils. As a caution, I know someone who has no interest in anything scientific and they were bored! I cannot understand it but, to each his own.

I've been into Soweto on a number of occasions, and that's not on a neatly sanitised tour either. The places mentioned in this tour are of interest (be prepared, Bara can be frightening if you actually stop and go in), and you will be welcomed by the locals and shown great urban hospitality - but please do not kid yourself that the parts you will see are indicative of the larger part of Soweto. Soweto is a city in its own right, with its better and worse areas just like any other. If you really want to see how the vast majority of South African's live, without the "scrubbed clean for the tourist" shine, then rather visit Alex. And for your safety - I DO NOT recommend it. Having said all that - if the townships interest you at all, you will be enthralled with the visit. I've just looked again at the timing and all the places included in a half day ...? It will take some doing and may be reduced to a barely stopping long enough for you to take a photograph.

You are on holiday, do what you want to and are interested in. Don't feel obligated to include a "township experience" if you are not really interested, and don't feel guilty about it either. Having said that, some people find old bones rather dull and dusty.

Hmmm - dunno if any of this helps or confuses more!
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 12:57 PM
  #3
owl
 
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Roccco,

We leave for Africa June 28 -- can you post which of these you end up doing and which company you've chosen. We'll probably do Soweto and then do some shopping in Rosebank.
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 10:19 PM
  #4
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I ended up choosing the Soweto tour afterall. I felt it was something that I needed to see rather than sheltering myself from it for a second consecutive South African holiday. Plus, it left me with more free time in Sandton than the other tour would have left.

I was a little bothered that there seemed to be absolutely no difference in Soweto tours from one company to the next, and I looked at about a dozen different operators. I ended up settling on one that at least had a couple letters of thanks/recommendation from his past clients:

Soweto City Within a City Tour

Duration Approximately 3 ? hours
Distance Approximately 80 km
Johannesburg: R 270.00 per person
Pretoria:R 300.00 per person
Departs 09:00 and 13:00
Make a Booking or Enquiry

Travel to Soweto, a sprawling metropolis, is one of the most famous settlements in Africa where the history of South Africa was written on the streets, in the schools and the shebeens.
This diverse and patriotic community led the war for justice and freedom during the late 1970's.
Today Soweto is a living monument of the history of political struggle along with the hopes and aspirations of a dynamic and multicultural community facing the challenges of transformations.
We travel past the "Barra" hospital and the Walter Sisulu square (Freedom square),visit Kliptown and discuss an informal settlement.Our drive takes us to "Hollywood" ,where all the stars live and visit the Mandela house museum.The newly opened Hector Peterson memorial Museum is one of our stops to see the start of the political struggle.
Oppenheimer Tower and the abondoned cultural village is the birds eye view of Soweto. We pass the Regina Mundi Church, informal settlements and the normal way of life.
Wandi's shebeen(restaurant is a stop for a drink or optional lunch.)

Thanks to the other fodorites for the feedback in helping me decide on my Joburg tour.
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Jun 3rd, 2003, 12:41 PM
  #5
owl
 
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Roccco,

Did you go with African Timeout for the soweto tour? Johan? Let me know, as we'll do the same if it's good!

Thank you!
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Jun 4th, 2003, 04:08 AM
  #6
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Owl,

Yes, I went with the Soweto tour after all. I decided that after such a rough day of travelling the previous day, the last thing I wanted was a full day tour.

To put the day of travel that I have in some kind of perspective...for those fortunate enough to live in New York, the day of travel that I have coming up tonight is about the equivalent of a round trip flight from JFK-Joburg!

It is LAX - Atlanta w/ 3 hour stopover, Atlanta - Cape Verde Island w/ 1 hour stopover, Cape Verde Island - Cape Town w/ 1 hour stopover and finally Cape Town - Johannesburg. I just hope that I am not so catatonic by the time I hit Joburg that I forget to get off the plane and end up back in Atlanta!

Pretty much, all the Soweto tours looked the same. I was hoping to find one a little different but they were all nearly identical. I do look forward to having a ginger beer and maybe some mealie-meal at Wandi's Shebeen. Well, maybe I'll pass on the mealie-meal!
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Jun 4th, 2003, 05:05 AM
  #7
sandi
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Roccco - Just the "red-eye" from LAX should kick your butt, but you can catch some shut-eye in ATL before boarding to SID (sometimes they let passengers off the plan for the hour; we got a separate boarding pass for just this reason, however, our arrival was 4am, so nothing to see but "dark"; you'll be there in the "light" - if so it's enough to stretch your legs).

The trials and tribulations of those long flights, but what we do for the prize at the end!

Enjoy.
 
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