South Africa’s journey to freedom didn’t start with Mandela’s first steps down the Victor Verster prison (now Drakenstein Correctional Centre) after his release in 1990, but with the courage and conviction of all individuals – black and white – who passionately fought for civil rights and against the social injustice and racial inequality of the once Apartheid State. An intriguing journey of Cape Town's history and culture highlighting the raw energy of our nation and culminating in a fascinating visit to Robben Island, the prison home of Nelson Mandela for 27 years.
Inspiringly, modern-day Cape Town refuses to be defined by wrongs of the past but instead embraces them as a life lesson, not a life sentence. Today, you’ll journey back to a world where every individual and every action was classified by race. A world of clear black and white rules, where mixed marriages were prohibited; travel restricted; work roles defined; and, where a single piece of legislation – The Group Areas Act – forced division solely based on the colour of your skin.
Our Mother City, Cape Town – a beautiful, modern metropolis with a Euro-vibe, but a dark past. A city bordered by the most incredible natural landscapes – landscapes that helped enforce racial borders. Under apartheid, this town was conceived as a white-only zone. A place where affluent suburbs were buffered from black settlements by scrublands, rivers and valleys, and in the city centre, weathered street signs from thriving inner-city black neighbourhoods were bulldozed to the ground to make way for affluent whites. Sad memories that epitomise the brutality of apartheid – a movement that could drag someone from their home, obliterate whole districts and, more damagingly, totally destroy the sense of community. These signs aren’t hidden away anymore, but now displayed in the District Six Museum where former residents recall what it was like to be exiled in the night with little more than a suitcase.
Offshore, Unesco World Heritage site, Robben Island, is preserved as a memorial to past political prisoners – not just one who would become President, but all incarcerated for the courage of their convictions. Today, this site employs former inmates, who weave poignant tales of their time behind bars and of hard labour in the prison’s limestone quarry. They bear no grudges thanks to inspirational leaders, like Nelson Mandela, who taught them about reconciliation and the spirit of Ubuntu. Indeed a unique symbol to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and injustice.
Yet, to fully understand the current state of our nation, you must also visit the townships around Cape Town. With the help of elders, you’ll visit Gugulethu township, not to sightsee, but to mingle with locals, exchange cultural values, and witness first-hand the unique dynamics that join these thriving communities and their unwavering community spirit.
It’s still a journey of understanding; but instead of focusing on differences, we celebrate diversity. More than two decades after the first democratic election, the Rainbow Nation is still finding its way and is still rebuilding a segregated society. It can be hard to come face-to-face with an unjust past, but it’s essential to gasp this journey in order to understand the South Africa of today.
This is not your average day tour. It’s a trip that’s as much for the history buffs as it is the traveller who has simply fallen in love with the physical beauty of this country. It’s about meeting and engaging with locals who freely share the most personal stories of hardship – to help understand the struggle and appreciate how far South Africans have come.
Hear a former resident share their District Six story for an emotional glimpse of Apartheid.
Experience the vibrant township of Gugulethu on a walking tour.
Explore the V&A Waterfront's cacophony of sights, sounds and tastes.
Go back in time with a visit to Robben Island.
Start with a morning pick-up from your accommodation in Cape Town.
Mandela’s dream of an Africa at peace with itself is slowly becoming true, but it’s still a long way from reality. Today’s journey into the dark apartheid past starts with an early morning pick-up from your Cape Town accommodation to the District Six Museum to listen to ex-residents tales of enforced removals in the dead of night and their homes levelled to make way for ‘whites-only’ suburbs… all in the name of ‘apart hood’ – apartheid.
Back in apartheid times, Table Mountain provided a natural border between black and white settlements and even if there’s no physical border in place today, the harsh reality of previously disadvantaged communities still shows. After a short drive to the Cape Flats, you’ll visit the township of Gugulethu for a glimpse into these infamous “dump grounds for non-whites”. In contrast to the city’s wide, clean streets and white-washed historic buildings, backstreets crammed with corrugated-roofed, shanty-style accommodation complete with shiny satellite dishes and colourful clotheslines awaits.
A local guide navigates the streets with ease winding past small taverns called shebeens, the township’s most infamous braai hot-spot – Mzoli’s Place, convenience stores, health clinics and an inspiring community garden project to provide a glimpse into everyday life. Here, fellowship is at the heart of everything and the noisy streets are filled with song and soul.
But, this township has also endured its fair share of bloodshed in the name of freedom and a visit to the Amy Biehl memorial and the Gugulethu 7 monument reinforces just how violent the struggle was.
As the sun rides high, you’ll make your way to the heart of Cape Town’s working waterfront for a lunch stop and an tour to Robben Island. Grab a bite to eat and meander through fascinating museums, historical sights and tourist attractions of the V&A Waterfront for the afternoon. Subject to weather conditions, board the ferry for a scenic cruise across the bay and a glimpse into the life of political prisoners in the most austere of South African prisons.
World Heritage-listed Robben Island is striking in its isolation… perched on a rocky inhospitable island off the western cape of South Africa with only seals for company. In its hey day, it was used as a prison for rebel sailors and much later for political prisoners, the last of whom were released in 1991.
The ferry ride back to the mainland is generally a subdued affair and the view of Table Mountain welcomes you back at the waterfront. Then it’s just a quick hop to your accommodation, ending this day of reflection, having a better understanding of the struggle toward a united South Africa.
*A form of identification needs to be shown on this tour. Please pack your ID or passport.
End with an evening drop-off at your Cape Town accommodation.
This trip will run exclusively for you.
Led by a local English-speaking professional tour guide.
Private transfers to included tour highlights.
There is no central meeting point for this tour. A transfer service will collect you from your Cape Town accommodation.
Local and international flights are excluded.
You are responsible for your own personal travel insurance.
You can purchase meals + drinks on tour.
from ±R1200 per day
A surcharge to travel in a luxury SUV vehicle. Maximum 3 people per car.
Since the beginning, working as a guesthouse manager 13-years ago, I have been involved in creating personalised experiences for people in the travel industry. It has grown into my work passion and I love being able to create tailor-made experiences for people that they will remember for the rest of their lives. In between doing that, I create my own memories and experiences by spending time with my family (usually on the beach), attending festivals and capturing it all with my camera.
Click terms for more details.
Full amount required to reserve or confirm a booking.
Children under 12 years are not allowed. Children between 12 and 18 years must to be accompanied by an adult.
11 official Languages Spoken
Afrikaans – English – isiNdebele – Sepedi.– Sesotho – Siswati – Xitsonga – Setswana – Tshivenda – isiXhosa
How to say hello?
Molo – Xhosa
Sawubona - Zulu
Hallo - Afrikaans
Dumela - SeSotho
Electricity – Volt & plug
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.
WiFi/Internet Access on tour
WiFi can be found at most accommodations, restaurants and airports, however, the download speed is often slow and many connections limit your data usage. In short, you’ll be able to stay connected with home, but don't expect to watch HD movies in your spare time.
When to go
South Africa is blessed with a mostly mild climate, but different areas will yield different temperatures throughout the year. Summer in South Africa is usually peak season, lasting between November – February, however Easter time (March) is often still considered peak season too. Temperatures range from 25ºC in coastal areas to high 30ºs in inland areas. Cape Town has ideal weather during this time and Durban sports warm beaches and humid air, Johannesburg experiences hot clear days and often an afternoon thunderstorm.
Shoulder season is April and May, as well as September and October. Surprisingly, the weather in Durban is often at its best during this time, and other areas simmer down from their scorching highs. Prices are lower and crowds are smaller. September and October see eruptions of flowers and blooms all around the country.
Winter is beautiful in most parts of the country. Cape Town experiences winter rain and is often a little cold and miserable, but still crisp and beautiful. Because of the warm Indian Ocean, Durban has spectacular weather in winter, often hovering around 20-25ºC with clear blue skies. Inland areas get quite chilly and the odd snowfall is not uncommon (it only lasts for a day though!). Prices are at an all time low and it is an ideal time for game viewing, as the animals are more active in the cooler weather.
Best time to go
Jun-Jul = Safari
Jan-Feb = Beach
With the possible exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, most tourist services and attractions are open on South African public holidays. In addition most city shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues remain open.
|1 Jan||New Year's Day|
|21 Mar||Human Rights Day|
|30 Mar||Good Friday|
|2 Apr||Family Day|
|27 Apr||Freedom Day|
|1 May||Workers' Day|
|16 Jun||Youth Day|
|9 Aug||National Women's Day|
|24 Sep||Heritage Day|
|16 Dec||Day of Reconciliation|
|17 Dec||Day of Reconciliation Holiday|
|25 Dec||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Day of Goodwill|
Visa & Travel docs
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand), most Western European nations, Japan and the USA receive a free, 90-day visitor's permit on arrival. These travellers do not need a visa to enter South Africa. A valid passport is essential with at least two empty pages. You generally will need to show return or onward travel arrangements. Children aged under 18 must show an unabridged birth certificate (showing both parents details).
Some countries do, however, need a visa. Visas are not issued upon entry, they must be attained beforehand. It is advised that you clarify this before you leave, the Department of Home Affairs office has a comprehensive list of countries that do not require visas. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries
What to pack
We're generally laid back in South Africa, so no need to haul out your best silks and diamonds when you head to our shores. Here's some clothing advice when in South Africa:
Health & Safety
There are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter South Africa with exception of a yellow fever vaccination if you have been in a yellow fever area within the last 12 months.
The only major health risk you might face in South Africa is malaria, which is confined to small areas in the north-eastern parts of the country. Small pockets of the northern parts of the Kruger National Park fall under this area but the risk here is considered extremely low and it is not always necessary to take anti-malaria tablets. Remember as a precautionary measure to check with your accommodation what is recommended.
South Africa may have high crime statistics, but if you conduct yourself wisely, most tourists enjoy the country without any incident at all. Ensure that you lock away your passports and travel documents in a safe, which is usually provided by your accommodation. Don't flash around valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Majority of South Africa’s crime is opportunistic petty crime, so if you are vigilant about your belongings you should not have any problem.
South Africa has 3 world-class airports that receive international flights every day; Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Most international airlines will have flights into one or all of these airports daily.
There are numerous budget carriers that offer domestic flights between the major cities for very reasonable rates; this is the fastest and safest way to span large distances, especially between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a 2-hour flight.
From the airports there are numerous shuttles and taxis that you can pick up upon arrival, there are also many different car hire options at each airport and in all major cities. Uber is another reliable and affordable option.
Our currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. You can easily convert your currency to rand at a bank or Forex Bureau, the airports and larger towns often have many different Forex options. You can also withdraw from an ATM, banks are available throughout South Africa. Be sure to check what international bank charges you will incur for withdrawals before you arrive. Major credit cards are usually accepted in hotels or restaurants, however, there may be a surcharge. It is advisable to have small amounts of cash for curios and tipping.