• South Africa

Overview

Southern Africa is the birthplace of human kind. Now, it is home to some of the most vibrant and beautiful cities in the continent and world. This make South Africa the perfect place to better understand evolution. Visit the caves and archaeological sites where paleo-anthropologists have uncovered huge numbers of early hominid fossils. Explore the lands where prehistoric animals once roamed, leaving only clues of their existence behind. Your scientific adventures all come with beautiful African scenery and skylines as your backdrop.

Highlights

  • Cradle of Human Kind – Located in Gauteng Province, this region gets its nickname for being one of the richest hominid sites in the world. It is here that some of our famous ancesters, like Sediba, Little Foot, and Mrs. Ples wee unearthed.
  • Kruger Private Reserves – Known for having some of the best Big 5 – elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, black rhinoscerous – viewing.
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens – These renowned botanical gardens offer a look a flowers from 5 out of South Africa’s 6 unique biodomes.
  • West Coast Fossil Park- - Located near South Africa’s western coast, the park has fossils of sabretooth cats, short-necked giraffes, and other exoctic animals that inhabited the region some million years ago.
  • Kalk Bay – An old fishing village on the coast of False Bay; sits at the foot of a number of famous caves, like Ronan’s Well, unique for taking form in sandstone.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Johannesburg - Gauteng

Upon your arrival into Johannesburg, you will be transferred to Sterkfontein for check in to the Sterkfontein Lodge. Once settling in, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group. 

Day 2: Gauteng - Sterkfontein - Gauteng

Following breakfast, depart for the Sterkfontein caves, a network of limestone caverns known by many paleo-antropologists for housing early hominin fossils and skeletal remains. After exploring, sit in on a lecture from renowned paleoanthropologists who have made their own significant disoveries right their in Sterkfontein.  The group will break for lunch under own accomodations before continuing on their adventure in the Sterkfontein caves and the area that surrounds it, also known as the Cradle of Humankind. The region gets its nickname for being one of the richest hominid sites in the world. It is here that some of our famous ancesters, like Sediba, Little Foot, and Mrs. Ples wee unearthed. Your group may even elect to tour an active excavation site as a complement to the Maropend Visitor Center, an interactive exhibition on the evolution of humans. This afternoon, return to the lodge for dinner and your overnight. 

Day 3: Gauteng - Limpopo

Enjoy breakfast before heading out for Makapansgat, an archaelogical site situated between the Makapansgat and Zwartkrans Valley. It also neighbors the Limpopo Province and River, a beautiful savannah plain setting with diverse wildlife. Settle in to the area with lunch, under your own accomodations, and check in to your hotel. 

Day 4: Limpopo

After breakfast, you will have the chance to visit the Makapansgat caves. Some of these caves had life spans of nearly 4.0 million years, and the network of caverns offers tremendous insight into the lives of Stone Age-era humans. Take a break with lunch, under your own arrangements, before enjoying an afternoon at your lesiure. This is a great time to take in some of marvelous scenery of the Limpopo province. This evening, the group may decide to take an evening walk with bushbabies, small noctural primates native to Southern Africa.

Day 5: Limpopo - Kruger

This morning after breakfast, depart for the nearby Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park is a private reserve, but its huge landholdings make it one of the largest. This also means there is a good chance you will encounter a wide range of flora and fauna. This afternoon, check into Ngala Safari Lodge, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger and boasts 14,700 hectares of wildlife-rich land. Then, head back out for your evening gamr drive to watch as the animals settle in to their evening routines. Return for dinner and your overnight. 

Day 6: Kruger

Today is another chance to spy some of the plants and animals that call South Africa home.  Embark on a morning game drive before breaking for meals, then head back out for an evening drive. Upon your return, relax and recap about the day’s wildlife sightings at dinner.

Day 7: Kruger - Johannesburg

Get an early start this morning with a bush walk through the park reserve. This is a great chance to get a new perspective on life in the savannah. Following breakfast, depart for Johannesburg, one of Africa’s largest and most dynamic cities. Not only is it a gateway into southern Africa, but Johannesburg serves as an economic capital for the entire continent.  Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel for dinner and your overnight. This evening, your group may want to take some time to explore the area, like Nelson Mandela square.

Day 8: Johannesburg - Cape Town

After breakfast, continue on your journey to Cape Town with a transer to the airport for your flight. Cape Town is world renowned as one of the most beautiful cities. Many flock to the area for its relaxed lifestyle, scenic beuaty, cultue, and history. Upon arrival, you will enjoy lunch under your own arrangements before setting off for your visit to the Kirstenbosch Gardens. There, you will be met by a botanist expert to help curate your garden experience. This evening, head to Table Mountain, the most iconic feature of the Cape Town skyline, for a striking sunset and photo opp. Afterwards, check in to your hotel for your overnight. 

Day 9: Cape Town

Following breakfast, depart for Cape Point, a mountainous coastal point at the extreme tip of South Africa. En route, pass Chapman’s Peak, a well known summit on the Cape Peninsula. Once at Cape Point, you will have a chance to explore the Cape Point Nature Reserve, with tremendous views of the Atlantic Ocean from its rocky headline. After lunch under your own arrangements, pay a visit to the African penguins of the Boulder Peguin Colony. These are some of only 26,000 breeding pairs of African penguins let in the world.  Continue from there to Kalk Bay, a fishing village on the coast of False Bay. Known for its fishing and surfing, if you look in the mountain side of Kalk Bay, you may also notice a number of famous caves, like Ronan’s Well, unique for taking form in sandstone. Conclude the afternoon and evening with a trip to the V&A Waterfront, an area packed with shopping, entertainment, dining, and hotels. Here, in the heart of Cape Town’s tourist industry, enjoy a seafood dinner with mountain and sea views.

Day 10: Cape Town

Grab breakfast before heading our to South Africa’s wine country in Stellenbosch. The Stellenbosch wine route is packed with cellars and vineyards, each with unique, flavorful wines. This morning, take a tour of the vineyard cellars and taste some of the delicious wine offerings from the region. Relax during your lunch at La Motte before your second wine tasting, this time, paired with chocolate. This afternoon, return to Cape Town for your overnight. 

Day 11: Cape Town

After breakfast, depart for West Coast Fossil Park. Located near South Africa’s western coast, the park has fossils of sabretooth cats, short-necked giraffes, and other exoctic animals that inhabited the region some million years ago. This afternoon, return to Cape Town for your overnight.  

Day 12: Cape Town - Mossel Bay

Grab some breakfast before heading for Mossel Bay this morning.  In addition to the long sandy beaches, what once was a small fishing village now features a number of recreational and historic activities.  Upon arrival and lunch under own arrangements, your group can choose to visit Pinnacle Point or tour the Blombos caves. Pinnacle Point excavations, beginning in 2000, have revealead a network of caves housing Middle Stone Age artifacts. Blombos Cave, located in the Blombosfonstein Nature Reserves, is an archaelogical site with deposits from the Middle and Late Stone Age. After your afternoon, check in to your hotel for the evening.

Day 13: Mossel Bay

Following breakfast, depart for Oudtshoorn where you visit the Cango Caves. The Cango Caves are settled underneath the Swartberg Mountains known by many visitors for their magnicifent stalagmite and stalagtite formations. Your group may decide to take a guided tour though the windy, narrow passages and steep stairways that lead from cavern to cavern. This afternoon, return to Mossel Bay.

Day 14: Mossel Bay - USA

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight.