South Africa: The Prism of Mandela
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Date(s) - 22/12/2022 - 01/01/2023
12:00 am - 11:59 pm



Customized Sample Private Trip

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. We will explore Soweto, including Mandela’s house and the past and present of this 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.

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.

This trip is a wonderful holiday for friends and family!

Mandela South Africa
Kruger Park Lions South Africa
EHE South Africa Tours
Kruger National Park
South Africa Tours


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 27 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



Day 1: Arrival, Welcome & Overview

  • Arrival at African Pride Melrose Arch hotel from home location to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. We will arrange personal transport from the airport to the hotel.
  • You will have time in the afternoon to explore the Melrose Arch shopping and dining region, lit with beautiful holiday decorations, work out at the nearby excellent gym, relax in the hotel’s lovely shaded outdoor seating area or stretch out by the pool. Christmastime in the Southern Hemisphere is a special treat!
  • Tonight, we will enjoy a group “Welcome dinner” near the hotel in the tony Melrose Arch We will provide an overview of the trip at this gathering.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch, Marriott Autograph Collection

Day 2: Focus on Mandela in Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • 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.
  • Dinner on your own at a local restaurant near the hotel.

Day 3: Focus on Mandela in Pretoria

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, we will visit Liliesleaf Farm, between Joburg and Pretoria. Here is where Mandela and other leaders of the anti-Apartheid movement planned their operations and here is where they were eventually captured. The museum tells the emotional story of those highly charged days and the Rivonia trial that followed, resulting in Mandela’s exile to Robben Island.
  • Then, it’s on to Pretoria where we will begin with lunch.
  • In the afternoon, we will visit the majestic parks, statues and government buildings of the capital, 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. We will also plan on visiting the famed Voortrekker monument, if time permits.
  • Return to Melrose Arch and dinner on your own.
South Africa Tours
South Africa Tours
Mandela Soweto EHE
EHE South Africa tours
South Africa Holiday Tour
South Africa Mandela Tours
South Africa Wine Country Tour

Day 4: Focus on South Africa Ancient and Modern (Sample Trip Over Christmas Holidays)

  • Breakfast
  • Mass at the famed Regina Mundi church in Soweto, the “Mother Church” of South Africa and the apartheid struggle. During the height of the struggle, this is where the leaders met and developed the strategies and tactics of the fight. It remains a place of healing worship and the moving songs of Christmas are sure to inspire. Christian or not, the memories of the celebrations will surely move you.
  • Group lunch
  • Drive to Sterkfontein Cave and the Cradle of Humankind to explore the roots of man’s development on this planet. Sterkfontein alone has produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found prior to 2020. The natural beauty and incredible history of Sterkfontein intertwine with the celebration we shared at Regina Mundi to spark contemplation of who and why we are.
  • Return to Melrose Arch and the beautiful lights and decorations in the evening, visited by South Africans from miles around!
  • Christmas group dinner at wonderful local restaurant

Day 5: Focus on Education and the Wine Country

  • Breakfast
  • In the morning, we will check out of the hotel and fly to Cape Town, arriving about noon
  • Our first vineyard with wine-tasting and late lunch will be at the acclaimed Tokara Estate overlooking spectacular scenery.
  • 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.
  • 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 wandering the town on your own.
  • Tonight, dinner will be on your own in any of the numerous cafes and restaurants in Stellenbosch.
  • Hotel: Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch

Day 6: Focus on the Wine Country

  • Breakfast
  • Time on your own to explore the local shops in Stellenbosch and lunch on your own.
  • Today our focus is on the nearby town of Franschhoek. We will spend the afternoon enjoying a tour of the town and vineyards of this spectacularly beautiful wine country, with wine tastings at several wineries including La Motte. The Dutch and French have been growing world-class vintages in places like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek centuries before Americans ever settled in California.
  • Group dinner in Stellenbosch.

Day 7: Focus on Cape Town

  • Breakfast
  • Check out of Stellenbosch hotel and drive to Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a vibrant central location filled with shops and restaurants and historic buildings.
  • Check-in to V&A hotel
  • Lunch on your own in the V&A area.
  • 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. There will be plenty of time to enjoy shopping and time on your own in the city.
  • Group dinner at Addis in Cape, a phenomenal Ethiopian restaurant.
  • Hotel: AC Marriott Cape Town Waterfront

Day 8: 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.
  • Dinner on your own in the V&A Waterfront area.
EHE South Africa Tours
South Africa Tours
South Africa Essential History Expeditions
Cape of Good Hope South Africa
South Africa Tours

Day 9: Focus on Natural Beauty

  • Breakfast
  • A trip down the Cape Peninsula will take us over will take us over Chapman’s Peak, one of the most dramatic passes in Africa with views over the wide South Atlantic and stunning vistas where the sea crashes into earth.
  • We will hike to the tip of the world-famous Cape of Good Hope for a stunning view near the oceanic meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian. We can also hike to the dramatic lighthouse. Hiking in this area often includes sightings of 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.
  • Our return drive will be along the beautiful seaside towns of False Bay.
  • As we return to Cape Town, 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.
  • Enjoy walking the beautiful seaside town of Camp’s Bay.
  • Group dinner at a local restaurant near the beach in Camps Bay.

Day 10: Focus on Relaxation and Fun

  • Breakfast
  • Today is your day – perhaps it’s spent on the warm sands of Camp’s Bay or Clifton beaches. Or it’s a hike up Lion’s Peak. Or tandem paragliding down Signal Hill with magnificent views over Cape Town. Or scuba diving and sea kayaking near False Bay. Or visiting world-renowned art galleries and museums. Or shopping in downtown. There are so many options and we will assist with transportation and guiding, where appropriate.
  • Dinner on your own. We will provide restaurant recommendations and can assist with reservations.

Day 11: Onward Journeys

  • Breakfast
  • After hotel check-out, we will return to Cape Town International Airport and the end of the tour.
  • If you wish to remain longer in Cape Town on your own, we will be very happy to assist in making arrangements.

Optional Extension: Zulu and South African Wars

  • Arrival in Johannesburg, then take internal flight to Durban and transfer to hotel.
  • Group dinner and welcome and overview of the trip.

Day 2: Focus on Midlands Meander & Spion Kop

  • Breakfast
  • We will drive up from the coast into the Kwa-Zulu interior.
  • Visit Mandela Capture Site Museum near Howick. His arrest here on 5 August 1962 led to trials and 27 years of imprisonment.
  • Visit Ardmore Art Cooperative and Gallery on Meander. World-famous art from local artists.
  • Lunch at Nottingham Road Brewery on Meander.
  • Visit Winston Churchill Capture Site near Frere. Overview of South African war discussion. Churchill was a war reporter taken by the Boers on 15 November 1899.
  • Visit Spion Kop battlefield. Part of the Siege of Ladysmith campaign, this 23-24 January 1900 battle on the heights was a decisive Boer victory with high costs to both sides. 8,000 Boers defeated 20,000 British. Spectacular views of the surrounding country.
  • Group Dinner
  • Hotel: Three Tree Hill Lodge

Day 3: Focus on South African War

  • Breakfast
  • We will visit the battles of Colenso/Tugela Heights, Ladysmith, Elandslaagte, and Dundee/Talana Hill.
  • Battles were fought at Talana Hill and Elandslaagte in the October 1899 opening days of the war and the Boers pushed the British into siegeworks at Ladysmith.
  • The siege lasted from October 1899 through the end of February 1900 and was the impetus to both sides pushing reserves into the various battles surrounding it.
  • All the battlefields are marked with cemeteries and there are two excellent museums in Ladysmith and Dundee. The latter covers much local history beyond the war, as well.
  • Group Dinner.
  • Hotel: Three Tree Hill Lodge

Day 4: Focus on Zulu Wars and Return to Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • We will checkout of our lodgings and drive to Blood River in the Zululand interior.
  • We will visit the battles of Blood River (1838) and Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift (1879)
  • In December 1838 Afrikaaners on the Great Trek defeated a heavily superior Zulu Army at Blood River, cementing a feeling of destiny to rule the land. The ghosts of Blood River run down to the present day. A full-scale wagon laager highlights the visit.
  • In 1879, the British advanced into Zululand across the Buffalo River and immediately sustained one of the most famous defeats in their colonial history. The movie Zulu Dawn depicts the fight at Isandlwana.
  • Then, the next day, another Zulu forces descends upon the small British garrison at nearby Rorke’s Drift. The defense succeeds by a thread. The movie Zulu depicts these scenes.
  • Drive to Johannesburg and Melrose Arch.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch

Day 5: Day on Your Own in Johannesburg

  • Breakfast
  • Day on your own in Johannesburg.
  • Group dinner for those joining the safari.
  • Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch, Marriott Autograph Collection
Zulu War tours
Zulu war tours
Zulu war tours
Zulu war tours
Zulu war tours
Kruger Park Lions South Africa
Monkey South Africa
Kruger Park Leopard South Africa Tours

Pre-Tour Extension 2: Private Game Safari

A safari at a private game reserve in Kruger National Park is truly an experience of a lifetime!

We will meet in Johannesburg for dinner, with an overview of the safari trip. The next morning, we will fly to Kruger National Park, and transfer to the selected private lodge in time for lunch and an afternoon safari drive. The private game lodges in Kruger provide both upscale comfort and natural beauty that will allow us to see the Big Five of southern Africa (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo) as well as a multitude of other wildlife.

We will select the game lodge based on the interests of the private group.


  • Eleven days, ten 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.


  • Pricing: Based on the private group level of lodging.
  • Pricing for the safari will be based on the group selection of the lodge and will include the flight to/from Johannesburg, all safari drives, all meals and all transportation.
  • Pricing for the South African/Boer War extension: Based on the private group level of lodging. Includes internal flights, lodging, meals and all entrance fees. Alcohol excluded.
  • 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: The Prism of Mandela 22/12/2022 - 01/01/2023 12:00 am - 11:59 pm South Africa: The Prism of Mandela South Africa: The Prism of Mandela A holiday season in the warm, sun-dappled beauty of South Africa! 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. Mission Critical Systems 22-12-2022T00:00 22-12-2022T23:59 Active Active 22-12-2022 Active $0.00 22-12-2022
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