Day 19 + 20: Panorama route - Johannesburg & Soweto tour

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November 20th 2014
Published: July 5th 2015
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In God's Window you can walk via the great paths to some viewing points.
We left the Kruger Park and all the wild animals behind us. In the second last day we would travel to Pretoria, where the last day we had multiple options how to spend the day. In the evening, we should go back to the airport to catch our flight.

It was the last night that some of us slept in a tent. We packed our tents, made some breakfast and packed our lunch. At 7 we left the Kruger Park and the animals behind us. We would follow a great nature route, the Panorama route. It is not so long and famous as the Garden Route, but it’s really worth. In one day, you are able to travel this entire route. You do not spot here safari animals, and because the route is shorter and has three highlights, it is touristic as well. The three highlights are: God’s window, Bourkes Luck and Three Rondavels in the Blyde River Canyon. We left quite early, because you do not want to be at God’s Window with a lot of tourist. Especially at God’s Windows and the Blyde River Canyon there is not that much space. Most tourist start the route in Johannesburg
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God's Window
and travel via the Panoramar Route to the Kruger park. But, ofcourse there are also groups coming from the other side. Those groups will meet at the Bourkes Luck; however this place is big enough to handle all the groups. The best way to run out the tourist is to go early. There are some trials you can do in the Blyde River Canyon. The most famous trail is the 2 and half day trail Blyde Rivier Canyon Hiking Trail, where you will end at the Bourkes Luck. If you do not have that much time, you can do the Belvedere Day Trail This 5-hour trail will take you close by waterfalls and steep rocks. By the Sabie waterfalls you can do rafting, or visit the 86 meter high bride. The Blyde River Canyon is a great nature route, where you can find a lot of waterfalls, the Blyde River, the Treur River, rock formations and forests.

We first arrived at the God’s Windows and there were not many tourist. But, at least we had a good, free toilet facilities and there were a lot of souvenir shops. The site is well kept, and the paths and the stairs
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Bourkes Luck
are in good condition. This path is good to do, but if you have time and like adventures, there are some opportunity’s. Of course, the hike trails, but take the mountain bike, and there are even possibility’s to do some horse riding trials. If you have time, and you have good health and like a good stunning hike, I would recommend to go in the misty rain forest. Take a guide with you and prepare yourself on a very hard trip. At God’s Window we have three viewpoints. The paths will take you here. Especially the last path is a little bit adventures and takes you “out in the wild”, at least for mine feeling. From here, you can see the “lowland”, or in Afrikaans the “lowveld”. The lowland reaches until Mozambique. If you at the God’s Window in the winter, you have a lot of change that there are a lot of clouds and fog, which can block your sight. This sight points are one of the most spectacular view points, according to the South African tourism board. At least, the view points are at 700 meter high, and the highest point is 900m high, where you have a
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Bourkes Luck
great sight up to the Panorama Route. On a clear day, you can spot the Kruger N.P. and the Lebombo Mountains, which is in fact the natural border between South-Africa and Mozambique. Via a stairs and a path, you can visit those three sight points. I really like to see those viewpoints, to walk a little bit around.

The second viewpoint was the Bourkes luck, or the Potholes. Here, at Bourkes luck, you can do a small trail, which leads you though the Potholes. The name is coming from Tom Burke. He was searching for gold here, but in the end they did not found here gold, but diamonds. From a distance, the site of Bourkes luck, it does not look that attractive with all the bridges and path’s, but it is the only way that you can see the complete site. These potholes where created by nature forces when the Blyde river meats the Treur River. In fact, the water forces took a lot of sand and rock with them; but not in all points. It lead to the creation of the potholes. Blyde and Treur are Afrikaans for “Happy” and “Sorrow”. The site does have more than
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the Three Rondavels
the potholes, but some little small waterfalls as well. I really liked this part, because you could walk here, climb a little bit the rocks. The potholes where quite nice to see. I never saw something like this in my live. It is amazing that the water force is able to form that kind of rounds, it almost looks like humanmade, but it is not. From here, the path takes you to the small braches of the river and the small waterfalls.

The best sight, in my eyes, you have at the Three Rondavels, three huge pineapple forming round rocks, hanging high above the river canyon. According to Manda, the name is coming from the Swaziland culture. The chief had three woman, the Rondavels. In fact, the Swaziland people called this place “The chief and his Three Wives”. The flat topped peak was the Chief Mapjaneng, and the three pineapple rounds where his wives. In fact, the Chief was from the Bapedi tribe, named Maripi Mashille which defeaded the Swazi’s in a huge battle close nearby. In fact, those three pinapple rounds do have a name – from left to right – Magabollie, Mogoladikwe and Maseroto. In fact, those
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The Three Rondavels
three peaks are 700 meter high, but at your sight point, you are standing around 1400 meter above sea level. And the blyde river canyon is at sea level. So, you can imagine you have a very great sight over here. Those rocks are formed by erosion, where the underlay of the rocks where of soft material. This space is also great to go here for a sunset, but we did not have time for this, too bad. I really like this place. Here, we encountered some other Dutch tourist and we had a great chat with them.

At this point the Panorama route stops, and here we followed the way to our lodge. The lodge was outside of Pretoria, the Twana Lodge. Yvonne and I had room 7. The rooms were quite small, but at least we did not have to put on our tents for the last time. From here, we had a choice to eat in a restaurant in Pretoria or in the Lodge. In fact, to go to Pretoria, a taxi had to been ordered that drives you in a 20 minutes to the city centre. That is why we choice take the diner in
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During the route, you can find a lot of souvenirs shops.
the lodge. The hostess made some good meal for is, with a farmer sauces, chicken pri pri, chicken with mustard honey sauce, salad and bread. Also, it was the last night we would be with Manda and Bheki.

The next day, there were several options to make an excursion. You could visit Pretoria, do a Pretoria city tour, a Johannes city tour, or Soweto tour, or a Johannes combination. Here, you would visit the Apartheidsmuseum and Soweto. I choose to join the last tour. This day was quite a heavy day, emotionally. The apartheid, was a system, where differences in races was admitted. In fact, those system led to laws and rules. Those laws and rules where detriment for black people. In fact, unwritten rules and laws were always been there, since the beginning that the Dutch and the English people settled. After the Second World War, the position of the black people slowly started to change; some became leaders and a lot of black people made statements to became really free. In the mean time, the black African people became more fluent in the English language and became better jobs. The white people became afraid that the black
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people would take over all the jobs, and the Political party “United Party” said that the Apartheid would be a solution for this problem. During the apartheid the black people were not allowed to come in the White areas, or were able to marry a someone which was white. People that were resistance against the Apartheid were arrested, murdered, tortured or lucked up for years.

Around 9 in the morning, some taxi’s were waiting for us. I was not the only one doing this tour, also Krista, Margot and Ton booked the tour. Barry, was the man that drove the taxi and helped us with the excursions. We arrived around 10.30 at the Apartheidsmuseum. It was not allowed to take pictures inside of the museum, only outside. The museum can be quite shocking for kids or people that are emotionally not strong. It does have a lot of materials and it will be shocking. The museum shows you everything what was happened and how black people were treated. The museum also had a huge Nelson Mandela section. The explanation and the route though the museum is quite good. It will leads you though almost all events that happened during the Apartheid. From the beginning, when the laws were designed, until the 90s, where Mandela became president. If you really want to know a lot about the Apartheid, you can visit this museum. I agreed this museum was impressive. After the visit of the museum, we took a lunch before we headed on to the next stop.

We had to wait until Barry came back. When he came back, we had to wait until our guide from the Soweto tour will be here. Soweto is standing for South West Townships. Our guide for this tour, did not want to tell his real name, but his nickname K.G. K.G. is living in Soweto, so he can tell us a lot about the live in Soweto and does know a lot of people over here. He could not only tell how the people are currently living in Soweto, but also showed that too us. And, he also led us to some historical places in Soweto. Soweto is one of the famous scenery’s during the Apartheid. Not only Mandela had his house, also the archbishop Tutu lived here. In Soweto, the student uprising took place where the 13-year old boy Hector Pieterson
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This owner always lived in Soweto, but it seems like he/she was able to get a good career. The owner still lives in Soweto, but in a huge house.
was shot dead. In the Apartheid museum, there is also a long, huge section about this student rising, including a vehicle that was used by the police.

At first, we drove in the tour with K.G. to the new soccer station that was build for the World Championships in 2010. It is still used, but not that often as was hopped. The problem is that much sport is not able to perform in these stations. The white people does not like soccer over here, but the black people do. But, they do not have enough money to buy the tickets. To me, that was not a surprise. It was not hard to see in that country that the black people still suffer from the Apartheid. However, officially the Apartheid is not there, but unofficial it still is. The black people – not all - still have poor jobs and the worst houses. You won’t see any white people living in those townships. At first, we drove to the riches people that are living in Soweto. Most people that are born in Soweto, stay in Soweto. Also, when they had a good career and became successfully. They build big houses,
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These houses were during the Apartheid given by politician party's; each row belongs to one separate party. Not only the houses were given, but also weapons. The goal was to kill the other people that living in the other rows; because they support another politician party. Currently, here is still a lot of criminality. They never returned those weapons which are still here for sale.
mostly at the edge of Soweto. Those big houses ware way cheaper than such a house in the rich departments of Johannesburg. From here, we stopped – from a huge distance - by some hostels houses. This houses were build in lines and sponsored by the politician party’s during the Apartheid. During the Apartheid, the people could live in those houses for quite a low price, or even free. A lot of people where staying in one house, but mostly they stood under high pressure. There was a lot of aggression, murder, torture and rape around these hostels. The problem was that, if you live in such house, people expected that you was active for that politician party. Those party’s where also given weapons. In fact, the goal was to kill those people that were living in the houses of the other party’s. Currently, Still, at this place there is a frequent weapon handle, because nobody returned those weapons. And it seems like, that everyone knows and nobody cares that you still can buy weapons here.

From here, we drove to Soweto, when we made a stop by a small neighbourhood, called Motsoaledi. Here, a local guide took over
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A very small school in the Motsoaledi neighborhood.
us. He lived in this small township, which looked very poor. In fact, those people were quite poor. He earned some money with the tours, to hope to get a better place for staying for his family. There were some small water taps in this area, a small school and the houses were made of everything they could use. The houses the people sleep were quite small. There are people that can buy some ground. Other people can rent from the ground owner some space to build their house on. The problem is that those rents are so extremely high – and everywhere – that the people that build their house need to build it quite small. Every meter coast a lot of rent, and it would cost you a lot of money if you can spare one or two meters. These houses are not save, mostly because electricity is tapped illegal, and not quite professional. If there is an error and a fire is existing, it will spread in no time during the neighbourhood. All houses are made mostly of garbage and material that will burn fast, but also, everything is build so close that the fire can spread
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Motsoaledi neighborhood
quite fast. Not only one complete neighbourhood can get lost in fire, but the change is big that it might spread to other neighbourhoods as well. That means, that those people that does not have anything, lost their only thing they had; their house. Manda told us, that for some people it is a choice to live in a township. Now, I shall discuses these type of people. Because, it does not coast a lot of money, and can spend it on other things They tap electricity for free (illegal) and in many cases even water. They build their houses of everything they find, so it does not coast any money. They do not pay rent, or maybe less for the ground. In the mean time, they do have a job – sometimes poorly paid, but mostly paid fairly – but they have some luxurious gadgets. A car, a mobile phone (sometimes including a expensive subscription), a TV... you can name it. And, I do not understand it. But, there are of course also people that do not have a choice and do not have a job or anything to live from. In the neighbourhood that we visited, it was
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At this point, the young innocent 13-year old boy Hecktor Pieterson was brutally and purposefully shot dead during a student protest by police.
the last option. I cannot understand that it is still possible that so many people are still living in these horrible conditions.

From here, we went further to the most historical sites. As first, we visited the Mandela house, where Winnie Mandela, the first wife of Mandela is still living here. From here, we went over to the point where the 13 year old boy Hecktor Pieterson was shot dead by the student protests in june 1976. During that date, there were plans from the government that a second language, Afrikaans should be required at school. There was one major problem; a lot of black teachers at schools were not able to teach the Afrikaans language, and mostly even could not speak Afrikaans themselves. A student protest, without any aggression, in Soweto began at the day of June 16th 1976, but the police took hard actions and became aggressive. The people were shot purposefully. One of the victims was the 13 year old boy Hecktor Pieterson, an innocent young boy. They tried to rush him to the hospital, but when they arrived it was too late and the boy died. A photographer took a picture when two friends of
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The Nelson Mandela house
Pieterson carried him to the hospital, and those picture went viral over the world. Not only Pieterson died, but according to official numbers 23 people. Unofficial numbers do speak up from 200 to even over 900 people. Not after the protest, a lot of young student and teenagers were arrested by roundups. A lot of them would never return. We also visited the house of archbishop Tutu. Not only Mandela, but also Tutu took some protest against the Apartheid. Tutu became the first black archbishop from the Anglican Church in Cape Town. Just as Mandela, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. In total, Soweto had 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners, but still have the highest numbers of criminality, rape and murder in South-Africa.

It was a hard day, this day. We learned quite a lot about the Apartheid and the current status of the black people. Some things are changing, but it will take a lot of time before all people have the same changes in South-Africa. At 5 in the afternoon we were back in the lodge to prepare myself for the flight. Deeply shamed as a Dutch, what my by origin Dutch ancestors have done.


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