South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela
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Date(s) - 10/09/2020 - 18/09/2020
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SEPTEMBER 10-18, 2020

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 a 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. Connecting with a local South African guide, 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 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. Our local guide will add to our understanding of Mandela’s impact as we follow in his footsteps as well as describe life in current day South Africa.

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 sites of two of Mandela’s prisons where he spent 26 consecutive years behind bars – on the infamous Robben Island (where a former internee will provide our private 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’s Peak Drive. A visit to Cape Town University, one of the Top 100 in the world and Africa’s finest, will include 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 one evening in the charming colonial and university town of Stellenbosch. A tour of the vineyards will provide a welcome ending.

Throughout this journey we will work with local South African guides to facilitate 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 modify an evening dinner to 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
EHE South Africa Tours
Kruger National Park


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
EHE Brian DeToy & Sheryl Rankin Shafer


“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: Three Nights

We will enjoy two days and nights of a premier Safari at a private game reserve, the Lion Sands Narina Lodge, in the Sabi Sands region of Kruger National Park. Our booking is for June 30-July 2 (2 nights). This time frame will provide four full safari drives and the stay includes all meals, soft drinks, local brand drinks, house wines, safari activities, game drive refreshments & snacks and Skukuza airport transfers.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is a 65,000 hectare reserve that shares a border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. According to the Sabi Sands website, “Even though there is a 50 kilometre unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, wildlife in the Sabi Sands Reserve is well habituated resulting in extraordinary close encounters and prolific sightings, particularly of the elusive leopard. The Sabi and the Sand Rivers run through the reserve, which add further dimension to the bio-diversity of this area.” On our previous trip to Sabi Sands, we saw all of the Big 5 up close, along with so many other animals.

Fodor’s Travel says of the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve: “Separated from Kruger National Park by the Sabie River, this reserve has one of the best locations in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Purchased in 1933 by the More family as a family retreat, it was opened to the public in 1978 with two lodges and 10,000 acres of undisturbed wildlife that’s available only to its guests. The family is so committed to keeping the reserve as close to its original state as possible that they employ a full-time ecologist, the only reserve in the Sabi Sands group to do so. Among its various accommodations are  … the once-in-a-lifetime Narina Lodge…. All of the lodges overlook the river, which is a magnet for all kinds of game. You’ll be able to peer into Kruger National Park, on the other side of the river, and watch game meander along the riverbanks among big riverine trees. You may never want to leave your personal deck, or the big viewing decks.”

Day 1, September 10: Arrival

  • Arrival at African Pride Melrose Arch hotel from home location to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport or from Kruger National Park/Dullstrom for those joining the pre-tour safari.
  • You will have time in the afternoon to wander the Melrose Arch area, use the nearby gym (which is excellent) or relax at the lovely hotel.
  • Tonight, we will enjoy a group “Welcome dinner” at or near the hotel in the tony Melrose Arch location. We will provide an overview of the trip at this gathering.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch – Marriott Autograph Collection

Day 2, September 11: Focus on Mandela in Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning 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 date 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.
  • Joined by a local South African guide, in the afternoon we will explore sites important to Mandela’s work for equality in the sprawling black township of Soweto, home to the heart of African revolutionary movements as well as Mandela’s home; today it is an incredibly vibrant community. After visiting Mandela’s Soweto home, we will have lunch at a local restaurant near his home and the home of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
  • Heading back into Johannesburg we will visit Constitution Hill, site of the imposing Old Fort Prison complex (where Mandela was held for a time) and the new Constitutional Court that symbolizes the rebirth of the nation as it transitioned to democracy.
  • Tonight, we will have a group dinner at a local restaurant near the hotel.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch – Marriott Autograph Collection
South African tours
Mandela Soweto EHE
EHE South Africa tours
EHE South Africa Tours

Day 3, September 12: Focus on Mandela in Pretoria

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, we will check out of the hotel and visit the majestic parks, statues and government buildings of the capital of Pretoria, just under an hour north of Johannesburg. In Church Square we will see the Palace of Justice where the Rivonia Trial was held in 1963-64 and where Mandela made his eloquent appeal to the world. The famed Union Buildings and park stand as an authoritative symbol of the South African government over the decades.
  • Lunch in Pretoria.
  • In the afternoon we will depart for OR Tambo airport.
  • In the late afternoon or early evening, we will fly to the Western Cape and Cape Town.
  • Group dinner at renowned Ethiopian restaurant, Addis in Cape, in central district near our hotel.
  • Check-in to Hilton hotel in central Cape Town
  • Hotel: Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Day 4, September 13: Focus on Cape Town

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, we will explore downtown Cape Town, from the colorful homes of Bo Kaap to the lush Dutch East India Company Gardens, to the imposing old Dutch fort built on their arrival. In addition, we will see beautiful streets filled with shops, homes, and parks. After lunch, there will be plenty of time to enjoy shopping and time on your own in the city.
  • Group dinner at the excellent Gold Restaurant with spectacular African culture show. The restaurant describes its menu as follows: “While honouring African culinary traditions we combine these with modern flavours and techniques to serve up a sophisticated African feast that we change seasonally.” The entertainment aspect of the dinner includes storytelling through music, singing and dancing.
  • Hotel: Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Day 5, September 14: Focus on History and Natural Beauty

  • Breakfast
  • The landscape around Cape Town is amazingly beautiful. In the morning, 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. There are hiking trails and numerous vistas to explore. Lunch on your own in the café atop the mountain with breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In the afternoon, we will take a boat out to Robben Island, a landmark prison in the bay, which was the lockup for political prisoners for decades. Once on the island prison, we will have a private tour of this historically significant site, Mandela’s home for years. Our private guide will be one of those former political prisoners.
  • On return to the city, we will have time for shopping and exploring the fabulous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area.
  • Group dinner will be in the V&A Waterfront area.
  • Hotel: Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Day 6, September 15: Focus on Education and Natural Beauty

  • Breakfast
  • As we swing out of Cape Town, we will first visit the University of Cape Town. It 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.
  • 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). Lunch will be at a seaside restaurant with views of the penguins swimming nearby.
  • We will hike to the very tip of the world-famous Cape of Good Hope for a stunning view near the oceanic meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian. Often on this hike, we will see ostriches, baboons and the South African dassie, which looks like a guinea pig but whose closest DNA relative is the elephant.
  • Our return drive will take us over Chapman’s Peak, one of the most dramatic passes in Africa with views over the wide South Atlantic.
  • Group dinner at a local restaurant near the beach in Camps Bay.
  • Hotel: Hilton Cape Town City Centre

Day 7: September 16: Focus on Wine Country

  • Breakfast
  • After checking-out of the hotel we will depart Cape Town in the morning and our 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. After an overview of the central district there will be time for shopping and lunch on your own in any of the numerous cafes and restaurants.
  • After lunch we will stop by the Drakenstein (formerly Victor Verster maximum security prison). Here in the winelands of the Dwars River valley between Paarl and Franschhoek, is where Mandela was last held in confinement prior to his 1990 release after nearly 27 years of political imprisonment.
  • We will then spend the afternoon enjoying a private tour of 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 Franschhoek centuries before Americans ever settled in California.
  • Tonight, we will share a final group dinner in the wine country at Tokara.
  • Hotel: Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch

Day 8, September 17: Focus on Wine Country and Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • After a final morning in the winelands, we will return to Cape Town International Airport and the end of the tour. Our arrival at the airport will be at noon, so please plan onward travel accordingly. If by chance, you have a departing flight that requires you to be at the airport before noon, it is quite easy and not expensive to arrange an Uber ride. 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.
  • If you wish to remain longer in Cape Town on your own, the bus will return you to the Hilton or another hotel nearby; hotel night on your own.
  • For those continuing on to explore the Zulu and Boer War sites, we will fly to Durban and make our way into the hinterlands of the Drakensberg with hotel night in the town of Hilton.

Day 9, September 18: Focus on Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • On the first day we will visit the site of Mandela’s 1963 capture in the Natal Midlands and then move on to visit such acclaimed sites as Ladysmith and Talana of the Anglo-Boer War.
  • Hotel night in Dundee, scene of much fighting in 1899.
  • On the second day we will visit Blood River, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift from the wars with the Zulus.
  • 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.
  • On the late afternoon of July 12th, we will drive to Johannesburg to catch our return international flight or other onward journeys.
  • Dinner on your own on the 12th.
  • Hotel night in Johannesburg not included but EHE can make arrangements if desired.
  • Pricing for post-tour: $500 per person, double occupancy.
EHE Table Mountian
South Africa Tours
South Africa Tours
South Africa Essential History Expeditions
Cape of Good Hope South Africa
South Africa Wine Country
South Africa Essential History Expeditions


  • 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: $TBD per person, double occupancy; $600 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.
  • Travel insurance available through Travelex. Please contact Sheryl at for a personalized quote.
South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela 10/09/2020 - 18/09/2020 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 10-09-2020T00:00 10-09-2020T23:59 Active Active 10-09-2020 Active $0.00 10-09-2020
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