The best tour guides bring a destination to life with their passion, storytelling and wit. Guardian writers pick guides who love taking visitors beyond the obvious to shed new light on the places they call home.
Jo Buitendach, Johannesburg
A walking tour of Johannesburg? It would have been unthinkable five years ago, when the cityâ€™s reputation as a crime zone prevailed, but things have changed. Shiny new Gautrain and Rea Vaya public transport services slice across the city, and the central districts have been spruced up with public art.
In Ferreirasdorp, the ground floor of a once-derelict office building, Chancellor House, is now a mini museum honouring the fact that Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo practised law here in the 1950s. Itâ€™s one of the key stops on the inner-city walking tour that Jo Buitendach has devised, taking in everything from mining monuments to shops selling vintage vinyl and traditional potions.
Jo, a young archaeology graduate, is convinced that urban tourism has a key role to play in the regeneration of her home city. She leads you through smart business districts and former no-go areas with equal confidence. “The big tourist site that everyone knows, the Apartheid Museum, is way out of the city centre, next to a theme park,â€ she says. “Iâ€™d much rather show visitors places where people live and work, where historic events took place and the futureâ€™s unfolding before our eyes.â€