Your Once-In-A-Lifetime Adventure Begins!
Day 1: August 8 - Group Departs the USA for Cape Town, South Africa
Day 2: August 9 - Arrive in Stunning Cape Town
Upon arrival in Cape Town this morning your Cape region guide will assist the group transfer to your hotel. Rest up or go out and explore the local waterfront this afternoon. Meet your guide and MPR host, Brian Newhouse, for a welcome dinner this evening. Sleep in Cape Town at the Commodore Hotel
Day 3: August 10 - Infamous Robben Island and Table Mountain
From your hotel it is a short walk to the jetty at the V&A Waterfront where you will board the ferry for notorious Robben Island. For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 kilometers from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society.
During the apartheid years, Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran the Island and its prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. Some freedom fighters spent more than a quarter of a century in prison for their beliefs. Those imprisoned on the Island succeeded on a psychological and political level in turning a prison 'hell-hole' into a symbol of freedom and personal liberation. Robben Island came to symbolize, not only for South Africa and the African continent, but also for the entire world, the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity. Today, you will be escorted around the island by an ex-political prisoner, and given insight into the past and how the human spirit triumphs.
After, enjoy an independent lunch on the wharf. Then hop a cable car to the top of Table Mountain. Dinner followed by a concert with the Minnesota Orchestra is included this evening. Sleep in Cape Town at the Commodore Hotel (B, D)
Day 4: August 11 - An Excursion to the Cape of Good Hope
Today will be spent exploring the coast of the Cape Peninsula so you can see for yourself how this spectacular southern tip of Africa became known as the 'Fairest Cape'.
We'll drive past the pristine beaches of Camps Bay, Clifton and Llandudno - currently the hottest real estate in the world - to Hout Bay, a functioning harbor and heart of the local lobster industry. From the harbor of Hout Bay to the rocky coastline and Chapman’s Peak, there are magnificent views of the sandy bays below. The combination of steep, almost thrilling rocky inclines, shimmering blue waters and expansive skies simply take the breath away.
After a stop for lunch, it is on to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, where you can ride the funicular to the scenic viewing point of where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean currents meet. The spectacular sea and mountain views are reason enough to make the 41 mile trip from Cape Town. Amid the rocky landscape - home to mountain zebra, eland and ostriches - blooms magnificent Cape flora. Your guide will lead an optional 45 minute, invigorating hike along the coast. For those who do not wish to hike you will be driven to a point where you will all meet up again. If you do decide to join your guide for the walk, be advised that you’ll be walking on an uneven rocky path and for a time on an irregular boardwalk. Some in the group may find the stairs at the end of trail to be quite steep. That said, the views are stunning! Continuing along the coastline, we arrive at beautiful Boulders Beach where you can sit among a colony of penguins. Sleep in Cape Town at the Commodore Hotel (B, L)
Day 5: August 12 - The Cape Winelands and South Africa’s Culinary Capital
This morning we set off to explore Africa’s largest botanical garden, Kirstenbosch! Nature lovers and garden enthusiasts will rejoice in the beauty of this awe inspiring garden. After an independent lunch, we visit the historic Vergelegen Estate, established by Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel in the beginning of the 18th century. The estate consists of a well-preserved Dutch manor house, outbuildings with a famous octagonal garden, a rose garden, a white garden and a wonderful herb garden.
Our day culminates as we make our way to the "village of the oaks", Stellenbosch, which is the second oldest town in South Africa, and today it is a vibrant university town. Admire the charm and harmony of Cape Dutch, British and Edwardian architecture as you walk through the shady oak avenues bounded by the water furrows of the Mill Stream. Discover the town’s many artsy boutiques or relax in a local café before meeting your guide and host for dinner at the hotel. Sleep in Cape Town at the Commodore Hotel (B, L)
Day 6: August 13 - North to Safari Lodge
This morning we say goodbye to our Cape guide and board a flight north for Johannesburg. On arrival at Johannesburg Airport we're met by an Earthbound Expeditions guide depart by coach to Pilanesberg National Park. Your guide will be briefing you this evening about our upcoming game drives. Sleep in Pilanesberg at the Ivory Tree Game Lodge
About Pilanesberg National Park
The Pilanesberg National Park is malaria-free and borders on the entertainment complex of Sun City. It is nearly circular because it comprises the area of a 1200 million year old volcano crater with a small lake in the center. The park exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone. Virtually all the animal species of southern Africa exist here, including healthy populations of lion, black and white rhino, elephant, buffalo and leopard - Africa's "Big Five." Bird watching is excellent with over 300 species recorded.
Days 7 & 8: August 14 & 15 - In Search Africa’s Big Five
Not even two shots of espresso will wake you up like a 6:00am game drive into the African Bush. Accompanied by a park ranger you’ll travel in an open 4X4 jeep in pursuit of lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos and more. Upon your return to the lodge enjoy a delicious breakfast.
Grab a good book this afternoon and lay by the pool or enjoy a siesta. Around 3:00pm each day you’ll set off on another three-hour game drive in search of more wildlife. Following the evening safari, enjoy a multi-course dinner. Sleep in Pilanesberg at the Ivory Tree Game Lodge
Day 9: August 16 - The Cradle of Civilization
Welcome to Maropeng (the official visitor center of the Cradle of Humankind) and the Sterkfontein Caves. Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, the main indigenous language in this area of South Africa. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage The site is an easy drive of about an hour from Sandton. Our ancestors have lived in this area for more than 3 million years. By coming here, you are coming to the birthplace of humanity. Welcome home! Enjoy dinner in Sandton on Mandela Square. Sleep in Sandton at the Michelanglo Hotel
Day 10: August 17 - Soweto Township
After a leisurely morning we'll take a private tour of Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship), the largest black residential area in South Africa. In many ways, the story of Soweto is the story of South Africa; this is where the seeds of South African freedom took root. Our tour includes all the major points of interest, such as the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Baragwanath taxi rank, Freedom Square, Hector Pietersen Memorial and Nelson Mandela’s former home. This sprawling township was the scene of the tragic riots of 1976. Despite crowded, chaotic conditions, there is a tangible sense of community in these neighborhoods which the ordered, walled suburbs lack. Enjoy lunch in Soweto. After our visit, attend a concert in Soweto by the Minnesota Orchestra. Sleep in Sandton at the Michelanglo Hotel
Day 11: August 18 - Gardens of Johannesburg and Classical Concert
Enjoy a late morning tour of a nearby lush garden. Then, in the afternoon enjoy your final concert with the Minnesota Orchestra. A special farewell dinner has been arranged for you before you board your flight home. Return home with a lifetime of happy memories!
Day 12: Welcome Home!