South Africa Tours: The Prism of Mandela
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Date(s) - 17/06/2021 - 25/06/2021
All Day

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JUNE 17-25, 2021

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.

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
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 26 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
South Africa tours


“Just returned from South Africa, where Brian and Sheryl led a phenomenal trip following in the steps of Nelson Mandela. This was my second excursion with EHE; my husband and I did the WWI battlefields tour last summer. Both trips were beyond fabulous!!

Stated very simply, there is no better way to learn about history and actually experience it than on a trip with EHE. Brian’s in-depth knowledge of historical events, why they mattered, and how they shaped and influenced current times is really astounding. He is an engaging and charismatic storyteller, funny and passionate, conveying both details and the bigger picture of the sweep of history. Sheryl ensures that every logistical detail of the trips is flawlessly attended to; she is warm and open and treats every traveler like a family friend. Show up and Sheryl takes care of the rest!! In South Africa, we also experienced other cultural highlights, including the Cape of Good Hope and the magnificent wine country in Stellenbosch, as well as an optional two-day safari in Sabi Sands.

EHE is a real treasure; take a trip and you will kick yourself for waiting so long to do it. I am already signed up for additional trips with Brian and Sheryl in 2020 and 2021, and wish I could do more. Really wonderful!!”

–Retired Army JAG Colonel

“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 an EHE excursion to South Africa, and I can’t say enough about our experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the safari, where we were able to get close to animals we have only ever seen in captivity — leopards, elephants, kudu, hippos, giraffes, and many, many impalas, just to name a few. Watching these animals in their natural habitat was extraordinary. The main part of the tour focused on Nelson Mandela and his incredible “Long Walk to Freedom.” We were able to visit sites that were important in the apartheid struggle, including Mandela’s house in Soweto, Liliesleaf farm, the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, and several of the prisons where Mandela spent his 27 years in captivity. Along the way, we developed relationships with the local guides and people, who enriched the experience with their first-hand knowledge of the culture and history of South Africa. Brian has an astounding wealth of knowledge about the history of the country and was able to make insightful and meaningful connections from the past to the present. I feel like we should have received college credit for everything we learned on this trip! Sheryl ensured that every possible logistical detail was attended to, which allowed us to fully relax and enjoy the whole trip. Along the way, we indulged in the local food and wines, which were outstanding in every way. This was an incredible learning experience and a wonderful, memorable vacation all in one. It will stay with us forever. Thank you, Brian and Sheryl, for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!”

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

“South Africa…Safari and history tour!  Over a two week period we couldn’t decide on what was the best part….it was all so awesome.  The guides, facilitation and education by Brian on past and present day S. Africa was amazing and to be able to draw parallels for what was happening in the U.S. at the time brought a whole new twist to understanding an evolving world.  It just doesn’t get better than this…exciting, fun, educational, stunning venue’s, outstanding accommodations and a foodies delight!  We will be repeat travelers for sure!”

— Corporate CEO, Manhattan



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

Pre-Tour Private Game Safari: Three Nights
June 13-15, 2021
(Plus June 16 in the Panorama Route)

We will enjoy three days and nights of a premier Safari at a private game reserve near the Sabi Sands region of Kruger National Park. This time frame will provide six full safari drives and the stay includes all meals, safari activities, game drive refreshments & snacks and airport transfers.

As guests register for the South Africa trip, we will determine how many want to include the safari extension. Based on this information, we will determine the best private lodge for our group.

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 three safari trips to the private reserves abutting Kruger National Park we saw all of the Big 5 up close, along with so many other animals.

We will take a flight from OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg to the Kruger area. On the return, we will drive through the Drakensburg mountains along the aptly named Panorama Route, staying one night at the Blyde Canyon Resorts with lunch in Dullstroom, the proclaimed “fly fishing capital” of South Africa, the next day. We will then enjoy the changing scenery from mountains to hills to the high plains on the drive from Dullstroom to Johannesburg, returning in time for some relaxation before Day 1 of the full itinerary.

Day 1: Arrival, Welcome & Overview

  • 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 (or comparable)

Day 2: 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. Lunch on your own at the museum cafe.
  • 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 walk the streets of Soweto, to include near the home of Bishop Desmond Tutu and the memorial to Hector Pieterson, the 12 year old who was killed in the famed Soweto uprising that sparked incredible worldwide attention on apartheid. We may also visit a nonprofit or school in the Soweto area.
  • Tonight, we will have a group dinner at a local restaurant near the hotel.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch – Marriott Autograph Collection

Day 3: Focus on Mandela in Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • Today’s focus is the machinery of apartheid and the long struggle against it. Joined by a local South African guide, we will visit Chancellor House, where Mandela and OR Tambo formed the first black law office in South Africa in the early 1950s.
  • At Constitution Hill, we will explore the old fort that defended Boer interests in the city’s early days and later served as a notorious prison complex for non-white men and women for decades. Today, it is also the site for the rebirth of the national narrative in the form of the Constitutional Court that decides the great issues of the day.
  • From here we will explore the shopping and galleries of the vibrant downtown scene and enjoy a group lunch.
  • Finally, we visit Liliesleaf – the farm in Rivonia where the ANC leadership was captured in 1963, resulting in a tense internationally-watched trial that set the stage for the deeper anti-apartheid movements of the 1960s-80s.
  • Tonight, dinner will be on your own at one of the many excellent restaurants near the hotel.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch – Marriott Autograph Collection
South Africa Tours
Mandela Soweto EHE
Soweto Tours
South Africa Tours
EHE South Africa tours
EHE South Africa Tours

Day 4: 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 on your own near 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 hotel near the lively Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area
  • Hotel: Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area

Day 5: Focus on Cape Town

  • 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 atop the mountain with breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • After viewing Cape Town from above, we will return to town with a group lunch at a fantastic café.
  • Next, we will explore downtown Cape Town, from the colorful homes of Bo Kaap to the lush Dutch East India Company Gardens, to Cape Castle, the imposing old Dutch fort built on their arrival. In addition, we will see beautiful streets filled with shops, homes, and parks.
  • There will be plenty of time to enjoy shopping and time on your own in the city.
  • Dinner on your own in the V&A area.
  • Hotel: V&A Waterfront area

Day 6: Focus on History and Natural Beauty

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, you will have time on your own to fully explore the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, including lunch at any of the great restaurants.
  • 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.
  • We will then head out of Cape Town for Camp’s Bay, one of the many gorgeous beach communities near the city. We will have time for a walk on the beach followed by a sunset dinner.
  • Hotel: Near V&A Waterfront

Day 7: Focus on Education and Natural Beauty

  • Breakfast
  • As we swing out of Cape Town, we will drive over Chapman’s Pass, one of the most dramatic passes in Africa with views over the wide South Atlantic.
  • A trip down the Cape Peninsula will take us by stunning vistas where the sea crashes into earth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Next, we will 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.
  • We will then drive through the valleys of the Cape Winelands, bringing us to its heart – Stellenbosch, home to a great university and the ‘capital’ of Wine Country.
  • Hotel: Oude Werf hotel in Stellenbosch

Day 8: Focus on Wine Country

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, there will be time for relaxing and exploring the town’s wonderful shops.
  • 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 walk the beautiful town of Franschhoek, home to French protestant settlers in the late 17th century.
  • We will then spend the afternoon enjoying the vineyards of this spectacularly beautiful wine country, including lunch and 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 Stellenbosch.
  • Hotel: Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch

Day 9: 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.
EHE Table Mountian
South Africa Tours
South Africa Tours
South Africa Essential History Expeditions
Cape of Good Hope South Africa


  • Eight days, nine 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.
  • Numerous local guides to provide local, personalized insight and perspective.
  • Luxury hotel accommodations in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • 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.
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary.
  • Two bottles of water per person per day.
  • All entrance fees for group activities and private tours (Robben Island, museums, wine country, etc.).
  • Gratuities for docents and restaurants.
  • Note: International airfare is NOT included. The tour will start in Johannesburg and end in Cape Town.
  • Alcohol not included, except as designated in the wine country
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.


  • 2021 Pricing: $4,750 per person, double occupancy; $500 single occupancy supplement.
  • Down payment: $1,000 per guest due upon registration.
  • All active duty and career retired military, and current and career retired educators will receive a 5 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 17/06/2021 - 25/06/2021 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 17-06-2021T00:00 17-06-2021T23:59 Active Active 17-06-2021 Active $0.00 17-06-2021
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