A holiday season in the warm, sun-dappled beauty of South Africa! That is the backdrop to this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Escape from your winter and join us in the southern hemisphere summer for an exploration of history, culture, food and natural beauty that will astound and educate, inspire and amaze. This expedition has something for everyone in the family!
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 at our beautiful hotel in the upscale Melrose Arch district. Over the following days, we will experience the warmth of the Christmas season on the main streets of Melrose with its vibrant decorations. We will also attend mass at the world-renowned Regina Mundi church in Soweto and explore that city-within-a-city; visit the acclaimed and extremely moving Apartheid Museum which will set the stage for the remainder of our visits and discussions throughout the country; and tour with a local guide to examine two periods of Madiba’s life in the region. First, as a revolutionary and lawyer in the 1940s-1964, locations include 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 township. And second, we will visit 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. Liliesleaf farm and the Rivonia Trials, Pretoria and the governmental center, Constitution Hill and the Cradle of Humankind round out our Johannesburg visit. 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.
From Johannesburg/Pretoria, we will fly across the country to the Western Cape Province. 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. Tours of the vineyards will provide a welcome break in this amazing adventure.
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 political prisoner 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 through the incredible Chapman’s Peak Drive and back along False Bay. 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.
The New Year’s season is celebrated in Cape Town like nowhere else in the hemisphere! The sun, beaches, music and parades will herald the beginning of 2022 in a way you’ve never experienced before!
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. Christmas and New Year’s in the warm embrace of the South African summer. A trip of a lifetime to learn of the peoples and the places that shape the future of the continent.