South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela
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Date(s) - 03/07/2019 - 10/07/2019
All Day

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JULY 3-10, 2019

South Africa and Nelson Mandela. Inextricably linked. One of the most diverse and beautiful countries on the planet. One of the great leaders of this or any generation. But it wasn’t always so for what we now call “the Rainbow Nation” and its iconic former President.

This expedition to South Africa will examine the legacy of four hundred years of European contact and settlement. We will use the life and career of Nelson Mandela as the vehicle for this exploration. Born while the Great War raged in Europe, Asia and Africa, and seeing 95 summers, Mandela’s life offers an unparalleled opportunity to see South Africa’s history, culture, tragedies and triumphs over the great length of the 20th century.

We will begin the journey in Johannesburg where we will linkup at a hotel near the OR Tambo International Airport. The following day we will start at the acclaimed and extremely moving Apartheid Museum to set the stage for the remainder of our visits and discussions throughout the country. We will begin our examinations of two periods of Madiba’s life in the region. First, as a revolutionary and lawyer in the 1940s-1964. Places like Sharpeville, where labor unrest and the murders of many black African miners in 1960 stoked international dismay toward the apartheid regime. Like Soweto, where black Africans have long lived in the shadow of their oppressors and where today middle-class neighborhoods stand beside shantytowns. The center of the African consciousness and rebellion stemmed from Soweto. Mandela’s house, and those of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others, still remain in this vibrant city-within-a-city. We will visit the law offices and the government buildings where Mandela fought for human rights, and where he served as the President of a newly united Republic and as a respected senior statesman.

The magnificent Western Cape province provides backdrop to our further discussions of Mandela and South Africa’s challenges and opportunities. Here we will visit the District Six museum that tells the story of the black and colored Africans who were removed from their fairly prosperous city center homes into shantytowns during the course of the previous century. We will also visit the sites of two of Mandela’s prisons, he spent 26 consecutive years behind bars – on the infamous Robben Island (where a former internee will provide our guided talk and walk) and the Victor Verster maximum security prison where he lived in the years prior to his 1990 release. We will also visit the famed Table Mountain and drive the Cape of Good Hope route along False Bay and back through the incredible Chapman Peak Drive. A visit to Cape Town University, one of the Top 100 in the world and Africa’s finest, for a discussion of the legacy of Cecil Rhodes and others, along with a view toward the future.

A short drive from Cape Town will bring us into South Africa’s famed winelands, where we will spend two evenings in the charming colonial and university town of Stellenbosch. A tour of the vineyards will provide a welcome ending.

Throughout this journey we will have extensive discussions on South African culture and history, its challenges and opportunities. The country’s rich military history, so fundamental to the shaping of the nation from its Cape roots on through the Great Trek of the 1830s and then its later wars between Zulu, British and Afrikaaners, will provide numerous points along the way to examine the nation at that point in time.

We will enjoy amazing food and drink, in spectacularly beautiful settings. We will interact with locals of all persuasions. If possible, we will attend a match – rugby, football or cricket – in this sports-mad country.

South Africa and Nelson Mandela. A trip of a lifetime to learn of the peoples and the places that shape the future of the continent.

Mandela South Africa
Table Mountain Cape Town South Africa Tours
Kruger Park Lions South Africa


Many Americans travel to South Africa on their own to experience the wildlife parks, natural beauty and big cities. However, Essential History Expeditions is for the traveler who wants to come away from a wonderful vacation with a deep understanding of the complicated history that shaped South Africa into the country it is today. What sets Essential History Expeditions and Dr. Brian DeToy apart is his unique experience with 14 years as a university professor including teaching history and strategic studies at West Point, 28 years as a US Army officer with combat experience, and 23 years of leading tours.

Brian DeToy Table Mountain South Africa Tours
Brian DeToy Sheryl Shafer Cape of Good Hope South Africa Tour


“Essential History Expeditions is the real deal if you care about history. With Brian DeToy and Sheryl Shafer, you get it all: a guide who is a superb teacher — Brian makes it all vitally interesting and relevant — and a tour manager in Sheryl who is quietly and graciously capable of handling any problem or concern. You will have no worries with them. All you’ll be required to do is to love every minute of your tour.”

— Former Chief of Staff to two US Senators

“My husband and I just returned from a trip to Prague with EHE. The experience was excellent in every way — educational, enlightening and fun! Sheryl and Brian are the quintessential tour guides: Brian’s encyclopedic knowledge of historical events is beyond impressive, but it’s the stories that he weaves into his “lessons” that make the history come alive, ensuring a rich educational and cultural experience for all. Sheryl’s attention to detail and quality with all the logistics make it easy to relax and enjoy the full experience. The hospitality and camaraderie they facilitated with the group made it even more fun. As the five-star rating suggests, EHE is as good as it gets for historical tours!”

— Executive Director of Education for a top-rated K-12 charter school

“Sadly YELP only goes to 5 stars, because this company really deserves ten stars. Over the years I’ve been on many tours with all the major companies, have done some tour leading myself, and worked in the tourism industry for two of the biggest companies in the US, but I’ve never had a better experience than my first trip with Essential History Expeditions and their Cuba military history tour last month.  Brian and Sheryl have put together a great company that insures the near-perfect travel experience.”

— Former tour leader



Kruger Park Lions South Africa
Kruger Park Monkey South Africa
Kruger Park Leopard South Africa Tours

Pre-Tour Private Game Safari: Two Nights

We will enjoy two days and nights of a premier Safari at a private game reserve in Kruger National Park. We recommend Inyati Lodge in Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park. The wildlife of South Africa is some of the most diverse and spectacular on the planet and there is no better place to view it than world-renowned Kruger. Sabi Sands provides the finest game watching experience imaginable.

From the Inyati website: “Inyati Private Game Reserve is set in 65,000 hectares of unspoiled bushveld within the Sabi Sands Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park. The lodge is situated on the banks of the Sand River allowing for fantastic game viewing. Diversity of species and relaxed big game allows for close-up game viewing and photography. With no boundary fences between the Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park, this reserve benefits from the great diversity of wildlife found in one of the richest wilderness areas on the African continent along, with the additional benefits experienced on a private game reserve.

At Inyati the days are designed to thrill you with intimate wildlife encounters and the nights to delight you with the indulgence and romance of the African night. View Africa’s most impressive wildlife on morning and evening game drives in open 4-wheel drive safari vehicles with expert guides and Shangaan trackers. Game drives traverse an area of 10,000 hectares and strict vehicle limits at sightings ensure the exclusivity of your game viewing experience. Off-road driving ensures that you have the best possible view of any exceptional sighting and guides are constantly in touch with each other to keep track of animal movements. Also interpretive guided bush walks are of offer for guests over the age of 16 years.”

The stay at Inyati includes all meals and two game drives per day in an open-air jeep as well as walking safaris. However, pricing is not yet available for summer 2019. Therefore, the safari is not included in the pricing of this trip and, as a group, we will make a final decision on which private game reserve to visit as the trip gets closer. This also allows guests to opt out of the safari altogether or to make separate arrangements for a different type of safari experience.

Day 1: Arrival

  • Arrival from home location to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport or from Kruger National Park
  • Welcome dinner at or near the hotel for early arrivals

Days 2-3: Focus on Mandela in Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • We will visit the incredibly moving Apartheid Museum. While official separation of the races was in effect only from 1948, the actual workings of racist policies dates back to the European arrival three centuries earlier. This famed museum tells the painful story of the difficult journey the people have taken to become the Rainbow Nation.
  • Other sites for our exploration of the capital region include those important to Mandela’s work for equality including Sharpeville (scene of a 1960 massacre of black miners that galvanized world attention against the apartheid regime) and the sprawling black township of Soweto, home to the heart of African revolutionary movements, as well as Mandela’s home, law offices and the imposing government buildings of Pretoria.
  • Group dinner or on own depending on flight time.
  • In the evening of day 3 we will fly to the Western Cape Province and Cape Town.
Soweto South Africa
V&A Waterfront Cape Town Tour
Robbin Island Cape Town South Africa Tour
Franschoek South Africa

Days 4-6: Focus on Cape Town

  • Breakfast
  • In Cape Town and its environs, we will visit the District Six Museum that explores the story of the non-whites of South Africa – blacks, coloreds, Indians, Muslims and others. Robben Island, a landmark prison in the bay, was the lockup for political prisoners for decades. Our guide of this historically significant site, Mandela’s home for years, will be one of those former political prisoners.
  • The landscape around Cape Town is amazingly beautiful. We will take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain for views of the incredible city and bay set out below us in tableau.
  • A trip down the Cape Peninsula will take us by stunning vistas where the sea crashes into earth. On Boulder’s Beach we will see a large colony of jackass penguins (so named for their donkey-like bray) and then will hike to the very tip of the world-famous Cape of Good Hope. Our return drive will take us over one of the most dramatic passes in Africa with views over the wide South Atlantic.
  • The University of Cape Town is the #1 university on the continent and one of the top 100 world-wide. We will walk its beautiful campus and delve into its history as an engine for success.
  • We will explore downtown Cape Town, with its ancient fort, built by the Dutch on arrival, and beautiful streets filled with shops, homes, and parks. There will be plenty of time to enjoy shopping and time on your own.
  • Group dinners at local restaurants in Cape Town.

Days 7-8: Focus on Wine Country

  • Breakfast
  • Departing Cape Town, we will first visit the Victor Verster maximum security prison, where Mandela was last held in confinement prior to his 1990 release after nearly 27 years of political imprisonment.
  • The drive through the valleys of the Cape Winelands will bring us to its heart – Stellenbosch, home to a great university and the ‘capital’ of Wine Country.
  • We will tour the vineyards of this spectacularly beautiful wine country, including wine tastings at several wineries. The Dutch and French have been growing world-class vintages in places like Stellenbosch and Franschoek centuries before Americans ever settled in California.
  • After a final breakfast in the winelands, we will return to Cape Town and the end of the tour. We have options for a return flight home from Cape Town or to continue with an add-on tour of Zulu and Boer War sites in the eastern provinces.
  • Group dinner in Wine Country on Day 7; on own dinner on Day 8.

Post-Tour: Zulu & Boer Wars; Two Nights

  • For those continuing on, we will fly to Durban and make our way into the hinterlands of the Drakensberg to visit such acclaimed sites as Rorke’s Drift, Isandlwana and Blood River among so many more. The fights between the Dutch and English and the Zulus and then between the Boers and British determined the fate and future of South Africa. The landscapes and battlefields are spectacularly maintained and some of the most impressive in all of Africa.
  • Afterwards, we will fly to either Johannesburg or Cape Town to catch our return international flight.
  • Pricing for post-tour: $500 per person, double occupancy.
Isandlwana South Africa


  • Seven days, eight nights full-immersion guided tours with expert historian for a focus on Africa’s colonial past; Nelson Mandela’s life, leadership and legacy; and South Africa’s current political status and its focus on conservation.
  • Full-time tour manager for personalized support.
  • Four-star boutique hotel accommodations, where available.
  • Two nights in Stellenbosch at a boutique, luxury hotel and a tour of South Africa’s remarkable wine country.
  • One internal flight (Johannesburg to Cape Town).
  • All transportation during tour.
  • All meals (this may change based on flight times as we solidify the itinerary).
  • Two bottles of water per person per day.
  • All entrance fees for group activities and private tours (Robben Island, museums, wine country tour, etc.).
  • Gratuities for docents and restaurants.
  • Note: International airfare is NOT included. The tour will start in Johannesburg and end in Cape Town (or Durban for those adding the post-tour).
Kruger Park Zebra South Africa


  • Let’s set up a conference call! We would love to chat with you to answer any questions you may have.
  • Just complete the contact form below and let’s set up a call.


  • Pricing: $3,450 per person, double occupancy; $300 single occupancy supplement.
  • Down payment: $1,000 per guest due upon registration.
  • All active duty and career retired military, current and career retired educators, and students will receive a 10 percent discount on the South Africa tour.
  • All repeat guests of Essential History Expeditions receive a 10 percent discount on all future expeditions.
  • If fewer than 10 guests register for an expedition, Essential History Expeditions maintains the discretion to modify transportation and operate with only a tour leader (Dr. Brian DeToy).
  • Please see Terms and Conditions for payment schedule and cancellation policy.
  • Optional travel insurance available through Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protections. Please contact Sheryl at for a personalized quote.
South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela 03/07/2019 - 10/07/2019 All Day South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela South Africa and Nelson Mandela. Inextricably linked. One of the most diverse and beautiful countries on the planet. One of the great leaders of this or any generation. But it wasn’t always so for what we now call “the Rainbow Nation” and its iconic former President. Mission Critical Systems 03-07-2019T00:00 03-07-2019T23:59 Active Active 03-07-2019 Active $0.00 03-07-2019
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