Did you know?
Maboneng is a Sesotho word meaning ‘place of light’.
Johannesburg’s CBD is home to many young entrepreneurs who have become part of the inner city’s regeneration, looking to make it one of the country’s most sought-after tourism destinations.
One of these is Bheki Dube, founder and managing director of Curiocity Backpackers. Situated in the Maboneng Precinct – a centre of creativity and commerce in the heart of Johannesburg – backpackers choose Curiocity so that they can experience Johannesburg by mingling with the locals and going on fascinating walking tours … among many other things.
The popular Maboneng Precinct itself is a tourist’s dream, filled as it is with art galleries, studios, restaurants, coffee bars and creative workspaces.
The seed for Curiocity Backpackers was planted during a trip to Durban in 2011, when Dube put to the test his photography qualification by taking portraits of backpackers in that city as a personal project. And then a year later, a chance meeting with Jonathan Liebmann, founder of development company Propertuity, led to what now is Curiocity Backpackers.
'Curiocity Backpackers is different from other businesses because we strive to offer an authentic Johannesburg experience – as it is, and not from a distance,' says Dube. 'We do this by introducing tourists to the community, through volunteer projects people can take part in while on their stay, and through walks around every part of Jo’burg.'
And there is so much for tourists to do in this part of the city – the surrounding area is a buzz of entertainment, with restaurants, bars, cinemas, pop-up theatres, art galleries and nightclubs.
Dube sings Maboneng’s praises: 'It’s situated in a vital part of Jo’burg’s history and heritage, a place once classified as dangerous. We have changed that entire perspective; the area now is an urban space where entrepreneurs are given a platform to become whatsoever they dream.'
His other business venture, Mainstreetwalks, takes tourist around the city, starting from Maboneng Precinct, navigating within and around the city of Johannesburg.
'Walking around and mixing with locals is the best way of discovering Johannesburg,' he says.
And Curiocity Backpackers gives you the chance to do just that.