AIA Tours: land

Human Origins in South Africa

Tour Dates: August 30 - September 13, 2020 (15 Days)

Tour Leader(s): William Harcourt-Smith ,

Join Dr. William Harcourt-Smith, on this diverse South African adventure featuring fascinating paleontological localities; evocative historical sites and modern cities; sublime mountain, veld, and coastal scenery; wildlife viewing and photography opportunities; delicious cuisine; and 4- and 5-star accommodations. Travel from the lovely Magaliesberg Mountains to early human sites in the “Cradle of Humankind,” such as Sterkfontein Caves, and as far afield as the Makapansgat Valley (joined by a guest paleoanthropologist) and West Coast Fossil Park (guided by a paleontologist). Visit Blombos Museum of Archaeology and Pinnacle Point Caves, with private tours of both by a curator and a guest archaeologist, respectively. Spend two nights at a luxurious camp to explore the Kapama Game Reserve, enjoying morning and afternoon game drives. Take guided tours of Johannesburg and Cape Town, meet with paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, and tour the Cape Winelands, where you will sample some of South Africa’s most renowned wines. Dr. Harcourt-Smith and local guides will accompany you throughout, weaving together the threads of past and present that make up the rich tapestry of human evolution. Maximum of 16 participants.


Tour Price (13 nights):

$10.145 per person, double occupancy (15-16 participants)
$10,545 per person, double occupancy (12-14 participants)
$10,745 per person, double occupancy (12-14 participants)
$1,945 single supplement (limited availability)

Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required.  With fewer than 10 participants, a small group surcharge may be added.


Human Origins in South Africa, AIA Tours - Aug. 30 - Sept. 13, 2020, travel with paleoanthropologist William Harcourt-Smith

Kapama Wildlife @ Operator

Cape Town Aerial View © Operator

Entrance to the Sterkfontein Caves by Anrie © SA 3.0

Cape Town © Operator

Lioness and cubs © Operator

Excavation site at Sterkfontein Caves by Anrie © SA 3.0

Itinerary


Saturday, August 30, 2020: Depart Home
Sunday, August 31: Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa | Transfer to Magaliesberg | Welcome dinner
Monday, September 1: Sterkfontein Caves | Maropeng Visitor Centre
Tuesday, September 2: Fly to Hoedspruit | Kapama Game Reserve | PM Game Drive
Wednesday, September 3: AM Game Drive | PM Game Drive
Thursday, September 4: AM Game Drive | Drive to Polokwane
Friday, September 5: Makapansgat Valley
Saturday, September 6: At leisure | Pretoria | Sandton
Sunday, September 7: Johannesburg city tour | Fly to Cape Town
Monday, September 8: Cape Town city tour | Iziko South African Museum | Bo-Kaap | Table Mountain | Milnerton
Tuesday, September 9: Cape Winelands | Wine tasting | Boschendal Wine Estate | Cape Town
Wednesday, September 10: West Coast Fossil Park | Cape Town
Thursday, September 11: Blombos Museum of Archaeology | Mossel Bay
Friday, September 12: Pinnacle Point Caves | Cango Caves | Mossel Bay | Farewell Dinner
Saturday, September 13: AM at leisure | George | Fly to Johannesburg | Fly Home

View Detailed Itinerary

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Sunday, August 30, 2020: Depart Home
Depart home on independent flights to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Monday, August 31: Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa | Transfer to Magaliesberg | Welcome dinner
Arrive at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) and transfer to our colonial-style hotel in Magaliesberg. Enjoy views of the Magaliesberg Mountains, an ancient range whose nooks and crannies, streams, and varied vegetation have always stood out from the surrounding grasslands and attracted humans, from our earliest ancestors to the modern day. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner. Overnight at the 5-star African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa for two nights. (D)

Tuesday, September 1: Sterkfontein Caves | Maropeng Visitor Centre
The fossil hominid localities of the “Cradle of Humankind” are recognized together as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and today we tour Sterkfontein Caves, which have yielded more than 500 fossils and have become one of the world’s leading sources of information about early human evolution. Continue on to the Maropeng Visitor Centre, an interactive exhibition tracing the development of humans over millions of years. Return to our hotel in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, September 2: Fly to Hoedspruit | Kapama Game Reserve | PM game drive
Transfer to O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) for a group flight to Hoedspruit Airport (HDS). Upon arrival, we will be met by an English-speaking ranger and transferred via open 4×4 vehicles to Kapama Southern Camp, our gateway to Kapama Game Reserve. This is one of several private game reserves that combine with Kruger National Park to create one of the world’s largest protected game areas and present unique game-viewing opportunities. Enjoy afternoon tea at the camp, followed by a late afternoon game drive. Overnight at the 5-star Kapama Southern Camp for two nights. (B,L,D)

Thursday, September 3: AM game drive | PM game drive
Wake early for a morning game drive, and return to camp in time for breakfast. The rest of the morning is at leisure to relax and enjoy the property. Gather this afternoon for tea, followed by a late afternoon game drive. (B,L,D)

Friday, September 4: AM game drive | Drive to Polokwane
Wake early for a game drive, and return to camp in time for breakfast. We then set out by motorcoach for Polokwane, capital of the province of Limpopo. A packed lunch will be provided for the drive. Arrive this afternoon at Polokwane’s Protea Hotel Ranch Resort, set amid more than 2,400 acres of pristine bushveld. Gather this evening for dinner. Overnight at the 4-star Protea Hotel by Marriott Ranch Resort for two nights. (B,L,D)

Saturday, September 5: Makapansgat Valley
This morning archaeozoologist Brian Kuhn of the University of the Witswatersrand joins us by special arrangement (schedule permitting) to explore the picturesque and historic Makapansgat Valley. This area of dolomite cliffs dotted with caves is another of the “Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa” recognized together as the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage site. The Valley’s Limeworks cave was particularly rich, yielding the remains of about 40 Australopithecus africanus individuals. Findings there led to speculation about an early “osteodontokeratic” (bone, tooth, and horn) culture. In the early afternoon we will stop for an independent lunch, and then return to our resort in Polokwane for the balance of the day at leisure. (B)

Sunday, September 6: AM at leisure | Johannesburg
After a morning at leisure to enjoy our resort, we depart for Johannesburg. Time-permitting, we may stop along the way in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative and executive capital, with its wide, jacaranda tree-lined avenues. We continue on to our hotel in Sandton, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Overnight at the 5-star Sandton Sun. (B,L)

Monday, September 7: Johannesburg city tour | Fly to Cape Town
Enjoy a morning tour of Johannesburg, the commercial capital of South Africa, plus a meeting (schedule permitting) with Lee Berger, Chair of Palaeoanthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and describer of the remarkable Homo naledi. Then transfer to the Johannesburg Airport and fly to Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa. Sandwiched between the slopes of iconic Table Mountain and the sapphire waters of Table Bay, the exceptionally scenic city is in a class of its own. Upon arrival we check-in to our hotel, located just outside the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area. Gather this evening for a tapas dinner and wine tasting. Overnight at the 4-star Southern Sun the Cullinan for four nights. (B,D)

Tuesday, September 8: Cape Town: City tour, Iziko South African Museum, Bo-Kaap, Table Mountain
Get an overview of Cape Town this morning on a guided city tour, motoring past famous landmarks such as the 17th-century Castle of Good Hope, the Edwardian City Hall, and St. George’s Cathedral. Continue to the Iziko South African Museum for a special behind-the-scenes tour (schedule permitting) of its extensive natural and early human history collections. After a typical Cape Malay lunch, followed by a walking tour along the cobblestone streets of Bo-Kaap (Malay Quarter), one of the city’s oldest residential areas, we drive to magnificent Table Mountain. Ascend to the top by revolving cable car and marvel at a bird’s-eye view of Cape Town and its beaches. Descend by cable car and, time permitting, re-join our motorcoach for a drive around Table Bay to Milnerton, a coastal suburb. Return to our hotel for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Wednesday, September 9: Cape Winelands: Wine tasting, Boschendal Wine Estate | Cape Town
Discover the spectacular valleys and mountains of the Cape Winelands, the center of South Africa’s award-winning wine industry. Enjoy a wine tasting at Vergenoeg Wine Estate, followed by lunch at Die Werf Restaurant, located at the impressive Boschendal Wine Estate with its exceptionally well-maintained gardens and Manor House. Return to our Cape Town hotel in late afternoon for the balance of the day at leisure. (B,L)

Thursday, September 10: West Coast Fossil Park | Cape Town
Set out this morning for a visit to West Coast Fossil Park guided by Dr. Pippa Haarhoff (schedule permitting), paleontologist and manager of the Park. See the site of Langebaanweg that preserves fossils from some five million years ago, among them African bear, saber-toothed cat, and short-necked giraffe. Excavations have exposed more than 260 square feet of the fossil bone bed for viewing by visitors. Return to Cape Town after lunch. The balance of the day is at leisure. (B,L)

Friday, September 11: Blombos Museum of Archaeology | Mossel Bay
Depart the hotel this morning after breakfast, and take a scenic, 4.5-hour drive to Mossel Bay along the Garden Route and coastal highway. Stop to visit the small but significant Blombos Museum of Archaeology, dedicated to presenting the prehistory of the area and specifically the findings from Blombos Cave, inhabited by early modern humans between 100,000 and 70,000 years ago. Curator Chris Heese (schedule permitting) will guide us through the displays, which provide context for the symbolic objects (the world’s earliest) and ochre-processing “workshop” for which the cave is renowned. Continue on to Mossel Bay and check-in to our hotel in the afternoon. The balance of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the 4-star Protea Hotel Mossel Bay for two nights. (B,L)

Saturday, September 12: Pinnacle Point Caves | Mossel Bay: Dias Museum, Farewell dinner
This morning we explore the Pinnacle Point Caves which contain some of the earliest evidence for modern human behavior. (Please note that the only access to Cave 13B is via a series of steep wooden stairways and boardwalks, with some 200 steps in each direction.) Return to our hotel in Mossel Bay and, after an independent lunch, visit the nearby Dias Museum. Named after the famous Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, this museum depicts the history of the exploration and mapping of the southern African coastline and its importance in global trade as far back as the 1400s. Gather this evening for a farewell dinner. (B,D)

Sunday, September 13: AM at leisure | George | Fly to Johannesburg | Fly home
After a morning at leisure we transfer to George Airport (GRJ) for a group flight to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). Connect with independent homeward flights. (B)

 


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