What started off as a humble backpackers hostel in a family home, has expanded over the years into a thriving business employing dozens of locals that includes a range of tour experiences, as well as traditional cookery classes, fireside storytelling evenings, morning yoga classes and the delightful Lebo's Open Air Restaurant.
If you are looking to support a local tourism business that is centred around community upliftment and sharing stories of South Africa's heritage, we can hardly think of a better place.
Backpackers and guesthouse accommodation
The original backpackers property has expanded hugely since the brand was first launched and has everything you could need all under one roof. For backpackers there's a choice of four and six bed dorms and for something more grown-up the property also has adjoining guest house style accommodation in cosy single and double rooms that open out into a sunny courtyard and lead onto a private garden with sunloungers.
There's a kitchen for self-catering, although we definitely recommend paying extra for cooked breakfasts and in the evening home-style meals and braais. The food is truly excellent, classic South African comfort food, and great value too. On weekends don't miss the delicious potjie stews, slow-cooked for hours on an open fire.
In the evenings, the space to be is the backpackers chilled beach bar-style courtyard area with its indoor-outdoor seating and a pool table on the rooftop.
Lebo's Outdoor Restaurant and Coco Bar
In front of the backpackers is a lovely patch of parkland. Once a dumping site, it was rehabilitated by the Lebo's team and the local community and is now a well-cared-for green space that is a popular spot for children to play.
This is where you will find the Lebo's Outdoor restaurant, where the famous potjies are prepared on the fire. There are also hammocks for kicking back and relaxing on a lazy afternoon, and on weekends there are events held here such as music festivals, markets and concerts. For drinks the fresh coconuts from the Coco bar are irresistible on a hot day, or grab a cold beer.
Leboland is a fully-fledged campsite on a small hill overlooking the backpackers. Passionate about bringing adventurous and accessible outdoor experiences to new audiences, the Lebo's team have created a campsite in the heart of Soweto, transforming what was another piece of neglected dumping ground.
The campsite has all the amenities you need including shared kitchen and ablutions, braai stands and a fire pit and a collection of small 'camp-chalets'. If you are a camping fan but don't have the gear, you can also rent it from the backpackers.
Together with the local community, Lebo's team have also launched a substantial community farm surrounding the Leboland space where local women farm vegetables and tend to a collection of chickens and goats. An inspiring and green space that again seeks to change perceptions about what travel and tourism in South African townships can mean.
Lebo's ToursTaking a ride with Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers bicycle tours will give you a chance to feel the distinct pulse of Soweto, and whether you opt for the two-hour, four-hour or full day tour, you'll get to see and experience a lot more from the unique and intimate vantage point of a two-wheeler than you ever would visiting on your own.
All tours are led by young guides who live nearby, and their passion for telling the stories of their community is one of the things that makes a Lebo's tour so special.
As you head out up and around the surrounding neighbourhoods you will take in a wide range of sights and experiences including historic Mzimhlophe, a settlement originally developed to house black male miners at the height of Joburg's early gold mining rush and now one of Soweto's poorest neighbourhoods. The June 16 trail is also, of course, a major part of the route, and all tours also visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Vilakazi Street.
If you don't have the energy for cycling, or you don't know how to ride a bike, Lebo's also has a fleet of tuk tuks, a super fun way to get around and see the sights with your local guide.
PLAN YOUR VISITTours, experiences and overnight stays at Lebo's Soweto Backpackers can be booked online at sowetobackpackers.com
Accommodation options include four or six sleeper dorms, and double, twin or single private rooms, chalets and camping.