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Orlando Cooling Towers

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In Soweto

-26.2548, 27.9261

 

+27 71 674 4343 www.orlandotowers.co.za

About

Orlando is Soweto’s second oldest suburb. Guarding the entrance to the township, and visible for miles, is Soweto’s most eye-catching landmark, the two brightly-painted Orlando Towers.

The distinctive towers, once part of a now disused power station in the suburb of Power Park, played a significant role in Soweto's history. This is captured in the larger-than-life murals of Soweto’s famous sons and daughters and traditional township scenes painted on the west tower.

These days, rather than the rumble of turbines, visitors are likely to hear whoops of joy or screams of terror - depending on how you feel about bungee jumping or swinging 100m in the air between the twin towers.

Other adrenalin-filled activities include abseiling, rap and base jumping, and scad diving - where participants dive without a safety cord into a net. They are all on offer at the Orlando Towers vertical adventure centre. It also offers a world-first bungee swing inside the towers, and an opportunity to climb them from the inside.

If you’re experiencing vertigo just reading about these extraordinary mid-air adventures, then take the lift. It’s a milder but equally rewarding way to enjoy the tower’s murals and the spectacular views of Soweto.

Johannesburg

Gauteng

About

By all measures, the speed of growth of the city of Johannesburg has been phenomenal. It’s just more than 120 years since the Australian prospector, George Harrison, found gold at Langlaagte. In the century since then, the ramshackle, gold-rush boom town has become a hi-tech international city of skyscrapers and towers, one of Africa’s economic powerhouses and a mixture of first-world sophistication and third-world colour.

Impatient for change, the face of the city alters constantly. Due to reprocessing for gold, the chain of mine dumps that once lined the south of the city has just about disappeared. Some of that early-day vibe can still be experienced, though, at Gold Reef City, which recreates those heady pioneering days and has the added bonus of bordering another significant attraction critical to understanding Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum.

The city’s downtown area, the heart of corporate South Africa before the 1980s brought a phase of decentralisation, is in the throes of a second coming. There’s a new appreciation for the Art Deco architecture that predominates in the central business district and large chunks of the inner city are being rejuvenated with a strong African flavour.

First it was Newtown, an industrial area on the north-western edges of the city centre, where old buildings found new uses. The old produce market became a theatre and the home of Museum Africa, an old bus factory converted to an artist studio and a craft market, and the old Electric Workshop became the location of Sci-Bono, a museum dedicated to maths, science and technology. A Workers’ Museum, beer museum (SAB World of Beer), art galleries, dance companies and jazz clubs have set up shop in Newtown, all within in easy distance of the neighbourhood’s central focus, Mary Fitzgerald Square.

More recently, an urban renewal project that aims to provide affordable residential and working space is taking shape on the eastern edge. Called the Maboneng Precinct, development is continuing, but two completed aspects have already made their mark. One is Main Street Life, a transformed industrial building and location of The Bioscope, an independent cinema set to diversify content on the South African movie circuit.

The second is Arts on Main, a hub for the creative community. An old warehouse, Arts on Main is home to artist studios and galleries, retail outlets and a rooftop bar. On Sundays and the first Thursday night of the month, a market is held, drawing Joburgers into the city to browse stalls at which the emphasis is on food and design.

On the subject of markets, perhaps the most unique in Johannesburg is Mai Mai, dedicated to the art of traditional healing. Set on the corner of Anderson and Berea Streets, on offer here are traditional herbs and artefacts and the services of traditional healers.

North of the city is Braamfontein, also currently benefiting from renovation that goes deeper than a lick of paint. The south end of Juta Street has become somewhat of a design centre, with the opening of galleries, furniture and craft shops. Then, perched on the 22nd floor of one of Braamfontein’s office blocks, with a 360-degree view, is a ritzy, new rooftop bar and lounge venue, Randlords.

Much attention is being given to the new Neighbourgoods Market on the corner of Juta and Melle Streets. Situated on two floors of a car park, stall-holders sell organic food and speciality items, which visitors consume in communal fashion on trestle tables and benches.

Braamfontein is also the location of an impressive stop on the heritage route, Constitution Hill, site of the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court. The University of the Witwatersrand, which stretches into this suburb, has more, such as the technologically advanced Origins Centre, which explores early man, the Planetarium, and the new Wits Art Museum (WAM) set to open in May 2012.

Move a little further north towards suburban Johannesburg, where each neighbourhood has its own attractions, all adding to the city’s rich tourism offering. In Parkview, you’ll find the wonderful Johannesburg Zoo; in Emmarentia are the city’s Botanical Gardens; in Auckland Park there’s the hip 44 Stanley – a centre of restaurants and unusual shopping; Greenside, Norwood, Parktown North and Parkhurst all have main roads that function as restaurant and shopping strips, while Rosebank has the popular Rooftop and African markets.

When to go

To Do

Follow the freedom struggle to places such as Constitution Hill, Liliesleaf Farm and the Apartheid Museum.

Newtown is great for nightlife and spaces to hang out until the early hours. The Sci-Bono Centre is a must for kids and Museum Africa is always a treat for a dose of arts and culture.

The Origins Centre is a wonderful eye-opener and one of the most technologically advanced modern museums in the country focusing on prehistoric man. The centre hosts regular exhibitions and screenings.

The revived inner city – with places such as Arts on Main, Main Street Life – is funky and fabulous with a combination of restaurants, galleries and fun shops.

The restaurants of Johannesburg’s ‘Soho’ areas, namely Parktown North, Parkhurst, Norwood and Greenside, are perfect for long, lazy lunches in the sunshine.

The Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. It takes place only on Saturdays but it’s here that you’ll find a trendy mix of people eating, tasting, buying and shopping.

Malls. If shopping is your thing, Jozi has more malls than you’d care to wave a stick at, from Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square to Hyde Park and Rosebank Mall to Cresta Centre and all the mini-malls in between.

Green Spaces: Emmarentia Dam, Zoo Lake, the Melville Koppies.

The Johannesburg Zoo, one of the finest zoos in Africa and a great place for picnics.

Art galleries abound in the city – including the Goodman Gallery, Circa, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Everard Read, Arts on Main, Gallery Momo and the Kim Sacks Gallery.

Johannesburg is known for its markets, from the Rooftop market in Rosebank, to the well-known food markets, including Jozi Food Market, Bryanston Organic Market, the Market on Main and the African market in Yeoville, which specialises in Congolese goods.

Fun and fascinating museums, including South African Breweries World of Beer, The James Hall Museum of Transport, The Worker’s Museum and the Bensusan Museum of Photography.

Famous drinking holes in the city such as The Rand Club and the Radium Beer Hall.

The flavours, colours, sights and sounds of Fordsburg, including the Oriental Plaza.

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Nightjar

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