Johannesburg/Durban/Zululand/Cape Town

Valerie Hearder

Val Hearder


Stay tuned for the 2017  Arts & Culture Tour to South Africa. The itinerary that will be launched in June.

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South Africa is a land of extraordinary beauty, vibrant cultures and amazing wildlife and I invite you to join me on my fourth tour to South Africa next year.

IMG_1099We’ve planned a fascinating 17-day journey to discover South Africa, the land where I was born and grew up. I love this country and am thrilled to have the opportunity to show you carefully chosen places and events. Our days are filled with delight at the landsapes, diverse cultures, wildlife and rich decorative arts. We’ll travel with sensitivity to local customs, and curiosity about this dynamic society. Our Registered South African Tour Guide accompanies us throughout, enriching our experience with her deep knowledge of the country. Local experts inform and delight us at stops along the way. April is a fabulous time of year to visit South Africa – the intense summer heat has abated yet its still delightfully warm.

White rhinosThis arts and culture tour is a rich collage of varied cultural experiences including several textiles highlights. We’ll visit cities, vibrant markets, rural villages and townships, and feel the incomparable stillness of un-spoilt African bushveld while viewing wildlife. Our touring coach will take us off the usual tourist track to visit a women’s embroidery collective, an AIDS Centre, an Arts Centre to learn about ancient crafts like Zulu basket weaving. We’ll visit interesting grassroots projects showcasing the best of innovative township arts and small craft groups created for economic empowerment. Along the way we’ll drop in on a world-renowned ceramic studio, meet the people who make indigenous crafts and learn from locals directly.

Red telephone wire basketOur tour begins in the metropolis of Johannesburg and includes a visit to Nelson Mandela’s original humble Soweto home. We’ll drive into the bushveldt and through a lion and rhino reserve, to the Cradle of Humankind – an area rich in ancient fossils that give clues to the earliest humans. We’ll journey deep into KwaZulu Natal and the dramatic beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains, and see some of the richest San-Bushman Rock paintings in South Africa. The tropical city of Durban will find us dashing around in local taxis to buy indigo shwe-shwe fabric in the Indian Market area. We’ll head to the heart of Zululand to learn about Zulu culture then spend 2 nights in the splendid serenity of Hluhluwe Wildlife Reserve. Our stay includes drives in safari trucks to spot wildlife in pristine bushveld. A 2-hour flight whisks us from Durban to glorious Cape Town, to wander cobbled streets of the old Malay quarter and learn about this fascinating community. We’ll picnic in famous vineyards; sip fabled wines and dance to local music. We’ll explore the stunning scenic beauty of the Cape Peninsula with seacoast drives considered among the most spectacular in the world. Our tour ends with an exhilarating cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain.

5NEW! Food & Gardens Tour in Cape Town. A special 5 day add-on tour will be offered exclusively to our Tour Members who want to stay and on and enjoy the magic of Cape Town. Explore famous private gardens, a private guided walk among the fynbos floral kingdom of the Cape, learn to cook treasured recipes in the Cape Malay quarter, dine at leading restaurants. We’ve chosen treasured spots to share with you. Details when you sign up for the 17-day Tour.

Quotes from participants over the past 3 tours:

  • A marvelous, magical tour. It had so many parts to it – culture, wildlife, people and landscapes. I don’t know how it, or our group and leaders, could have been any better!
  • Great value, we got far more than we anticipated.
  • Trip of a lifetime!
  • A life-changing, outstanding trip!!
  • We are most grateful for the magical tour you led for all of us. Great value.
  • I liked meeting the people in the villages and out of the way places. So many great moments.
  • The trip was a dream come true. It was all so friendly and warm. I enjoyed every minute of it.


bright-bokaapAccommodations are carefully chosen to enhance your experience of South Africa including comfortable 3 and 4 star hotels, thatched mountain lodges, chalets in Africa’s oldest wildlife preserve, and of course, fabulous South African food will sustain us throughout.

Tour leaders are myself, Val Hearder, and my husband, Veryan Haysom, both born in South Africa. We are accompanied by Thabie Moji, a seasoned South African Tour Guide.

Tour Operator is Odette Tolksdorf, who lives in Durban and is a noted textile artist. Odette and I have worked closely for 6 years designing cultural tours to South Africa.

Travel in South Africa is comfortable with good roads, excellent hotels and the water is safe to drink. The exchange rate is favourable to our dollar and ATM machines are plentiful. The tour welcomes both women and men. A brief itinerary and pricing follow below. A detailed itinerary will be sent to those who register for the tour. We reserve the right to vary or change the itinerary. Please read more detailed testimonials on the Testimonials page. You can find out more about some of the groups we visit at The Makers link at the top of this page. Contact Val for the Registration form for more details. All photos on this page were taken on our tours. To see more photos click here.

Brief Itinerary: 6 to 22 April – 17 days

(Breakfast Lunch Dinner = BLD)

DAY 1 – Wednesday APRIL 6


Welcome to South Africa! We’ll be staying in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs at a lovely hotel where the gardens and trees create a mood of being in the countryside. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s Welcome Dinner at a fine restaurant.


DAY 2 – Thursday APRIL 7


Today we travel to a World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Humankind. We’ll drive through the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve to meet our specialist guide, a palaeo-anthropologist / archaeologist for a private tour. Gain a glimpse into the intriguing study of human origins at one of the world’s most important and richest pre-human fossil sites. Enjoy the serene setting and panoramic views of the savannah bushveld.In the afternoon we’ll visit a leading Johannesburg art gallery exhibiting paintings and sculpture by South Africa’s finest modern and contemporary artists. The gallery has been internationally recognised for its outstanding contribution to South African architecture.

Hotel: BALALAIKA, Sandton

DAY 3 – Friday APRIL 8


Experience a fascinating visit to Soweto, a large urban area of Johannesburg or Jo’burg, as it’s usually known. Our local guide discusses the history and contemporary life of Soweto and our visits include Nelson Mandela’s first humble home, Hector Peterson Museum and then lunch with local community members with an opportunity to interact and converse. Afterwards, we visit the Constitutional Court. The Court was established in the old Fort prison grounds where thousands of political prisoners were held. In this key symbol of democracy, we’ll learn about political issues and change in South African history, through the Court’s powerful and moving art collection. The day ends with a stopover at our favourite gallery offering the finest traditional and contemporary African artifacts, textiles, ceramics, vintage textiles and more. Own dinner arrangements tonight for you to choose from several restaurants close to the hotel.

Hotel: BALALAIKA, Sandton

DAY 4 – Saturday APRIL 9


The Winterveldt is a rural area north of Pretoria where we’ll visit women from the remarkable Mapula Embroidery Group. We’ll be charmed by the makers whose brightly coloured, and highly collectible embroideries, tell stories of their lives. We’ll visit the makers at their homes, learn about this 20-year-old project and have an opportunity to purchase their tapestries. We have lunch on your own at the verdant Pretoria Botanic Gardens and stroll around the gardens after lunch. Your own dinner arrangements tonight and you can choose from several restaurants close to the hotel.

Hotel: BALALAIKA, Sandton

DAY 5 – Sunday APRIL 10


Depart Johannesburg and spend the day travelling along scenic roads to the Ukhahlamba-Drakensburg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a delicious lunch we continue to our destination, a serene mountain retreat in a majestic setting.

Hotel: GIANT’S CASTLE CAMP, Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

DAY 6 – Monday APRIL 11


Our second day in the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains allows us time for an exhilarating walk to explore San/Bushman rock art paintings illustrating a fascinating diary of the culture and spiritual beliefs of the San-Bushman people. Later we’ll have an exclusive visit from art curator Judy Jordan and a member of the Isipethu Embroidery Group. View their fascinating appliqué story cloths and embroideries that tell stories in stiches about the lives of women in Zulu society.

Hotel: GIANT’S CASTLE, Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

DAY 7 – Tuesday APRIL 12


Depart the Drakensberg and drive to the Ardmore Ceramics studio in the Natal Midlands to meet the gifted artists who work here. Learn about this renowned studio started by Fee Halsted-Berning and how it responds to social and other issues of the day. See the distinctive style that has intrigued collectors from all over the world with it’s flamboyant painted ceramics depicting African fauna, flora and history. We’ll make a quick stop at the Mandela Capture Site Monument to see the remarkable Cianfanelli sculpture. We then continue to the inspiring Hillcrest AIDS Centre to learn about the multi-faceted projects they are involved in, including contemporary Zulu beadwork. Our final destination today is our boutique hotel on trendy Florida Road in Durban.

Hotel:THE BENJAMIN, Durban

DAY 8 – Wednesday APRIL 13

durban-indian-marketDURBAN (BL)

Enjoy a walk along the Durban beachfront, dip your toes or swim in the Indian Ocean and then go to downtown Durban for a quick excursion into the bustling Indian and African Market area. Visit one or two fabric shops, see local street vendors and maybe buy a hot samoosa! Next we drive through the gracious residential areas of Durban to a fascinating private museum where our guide will explain Zulu culture. We’ll view this large and spectacular collection of Southern African arts, crafts, artifacts and traditional costumes, all creatively exhibited in a restored Victorian mansion. We also visit the lush Durban Botanic Gardens for a casual picnic lunch and time to explore this botanical treasure and it’s rare trees and cycads. Afterwards we’ll stop over at the African Art Centre for outstanding local arts and crafts such as baskets, beadwork, textiles, jewelry and woodcarvings. Own dinner arrangements tonight for you to choose from several restaurants close to the hotel.

Hotel:THE BENJAMIN, Durban

DAY 9 – Thursday APRIL 14


Drive to Eshowe in the heart of Zululand hills to a cultural center and where our museum guide discusses a significant collection of Zulu baskets and other artifacts. After a wonderful lunch in a tranquil and historic location, we make our way into Hluhluwe Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in Africa, founded in 1895, where Africa’s Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo) roam, as well as many other animals such as giraffe and zebra. We’ll stay for two nights in comfy thatched chalets at the award-winning Hilltop Camp.

Hotel: HILLTOP CAMP, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

DAY 10 – Friday APRIL 15


Today we’ll board open-sided safari vehicles for drives with experienced guides. Leaving the forested hills of Hilltop Camp in the early morning to look for wildlife in the awe-inspiring bushveld savannah. This Reserve is a key preservation area for rhino. There will be time to take leisurely walks around the camp and enjoy the wide variety of birds, trees and bushveld.

Hotel: HILLTOP, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

DAY 11 – Saturday APRIL 16

photo by Maggie


Take an early morning game drive in Hluhluwe and afterwards enjoy a leisurely breakfast. On departure we drive along the sub-tropical Zululand coast to our destination, the seaside town of Ballito. Our accommodation is on the edge of the warm, thundering Indian Ocean. Enjoy a dip in the tidal pool and a sunset walk on the beach before dinner.

Hotel: THE BOATHOUSE, Ballito

DAY 12 – Sunday APRIL 17

cape-vinyard-stellenboshDURBAN / STELLENBOSCH FLIGHT to Cape Town (BL)

An early departure today for our flight from Durban’s King Shaka Airport to Cape Town. Drive to the famed Cape winelands and visit a renowned wine estate for lunch. Our last stop today is our hotel for the next two nights in the attractive and historic university town of Stellenbosch. Enjoy a stroll around the many boutiques, galleries, restaurants and oak-lined streets. See restored Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture from the French Huguenot, Dutch and Afrikaans heritage of this area.

DAY 13 – Monday APRIL 18


We depart Stellenbosch and drive to the delightful town of Franschhoek surrounded by mountains and fertile valleys with many vinyards. We’ll spend a couple of hours strolling around this charming town exploring art galleries, wine cellars, boutiques. Enjoy the streetscape and the interesting side-streets. We then continue to a wine estate for a delicious picnic lunch. In a cool forest we’ll listen to distinctive local music and dance. We return to Stellenbosch with time to stroll around of the town before your own dinner arrangements at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

DAY 14 – Tuesday APRIL 19

beaded-lion-and-its-makerSTELLENBOSCH / CAPE TOWN (BL)

Today we visit some highly creative craft projects that generate income for township residents. Meet the people who create wonderful objects combining traditional beading and weaving techniques with contemporary materials. Our walk with a guide in the colourful Bo-Kaap/ Cape Malay Quarter with its cobbled lanes and brightly coloured flat-roofed homes, is a photographer’s delight. This interesting area is closely associated with Cape Town’s Muslim community and we’ll learn about this culture and enjoy an authentic Cape Malay lunch. We’ll also visit one of the excellent art and craft galleries nearby and there will be time to explore on your own. Own dinner arrangements tonight for you to choose from several restaurants close to the hotel.


DAY 15 – Wednesday APRIL 20

table-mt-viewCAPE TOWN (BL)

Our morning begins with a visit to a fabulous store with a great selection of baskets from all over the African continent. Today is a touring day to see the glorious scenery of the Cape Peninsula. Mountain vistas and ocean views will delight us as we drive to Cape Point at the tip of the Cape Peninsula. We’ll drive through a nature reserve with flora and fauna unique to the area. This is the fynbos floral kingdom, with over 3,000 species not found anywhere else in the world. Take a short ride in the funicular to enjoy panoramic views and a restaurant with a superb ocean outlook. In the afternoon we’ll take a walk to visit the colony of African penguins at Boulders. Our journey back to the city is via Chapman’s Peak Drive along the Atlantic Coast, one of the most the spectacular marine drives in the world. Own dinner arrangements tonight for you to choose from several restaurants close to the hotel.


DAY 16 – Thursday APRIL 21


Today we’ll take the cable car (weather permitting) to the top of Table Mountain to enjoy the wide, magnificent views of Cape Town. Own lunch today and the afternoon is free to do as you please – choose from many options (which are optional extras at your own expense): visit Kirstenbosch Gardens (a must if you love gardens), Robben Island, the National Art Gallery or shop at the V & A Waterfront or Greenmarket Square. Our Farewell Dinner tonight will be a special festive occasion to celebrate together, our journey around South Africa. Photo taken at Monkeybiz in Cape Town.


DAY 17 – Friday APRIL 22


Departure day. Transfer from the hotel to Cape Town International Airport to depart for home. Many tour members choose to extend their stay in Cape Town.

Tour Price Details

Price Includes:

The tour is 17 days total (6-22 April 2016) including arrival and departure days in South Africa.
TOUR PRICE: We require a minimum of 15 paying participants. Quote is Canadian dollars.
$6,580 double room shared.
$1,555 single room supplement

  • 16 nights hotel accommodations as per itinerary.
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary – all breakfasts, 13 lunches, 9 dinners.
  • Local wine and beer with welcome and farewell dinners.
  • On day of arrival only dinner is provided and on day of departure only breakfast is provided.
  • Airport / hotel transfers
  • Land transport in air-conditioned coach with bottled water on board.
  • Registered South African tour guide accompanying the tour.
  • Additional Specialist on-site guides.
  • Game viewing in safari vehicles.
  • Tips for meals and luggage handling.
  • Entrance fees for visits as per itinerary.


Price Does Not Include:

  • Round trip flight to South Africa
  • Internal flight Durban to Cape Town.
  • Airport taxes.
  • Meals and drinks not specified in the itinerary (7 dinners and 2 lunch).
  • Travel insurance.
  • Tips for tour guide and coach driver.
  • Personal expenses and self-selected activities.
  • In depth details of payment schedule, insurance requirements, your bookings and much more is covered in the Registration form. Please request one from Val.


Tour members make their own travel arrangements and bookings. The round trip from Canada to South Africa costs about $2,000 including taxes. The internal 2 hours flight from Durban to Cape Town, will cost about $250. If you’re Canadian or American, no visas are required to visit South Africa.Many choose to stay on after the end of the tour to enjoy the Cape, or go on safari.

Cape Town Food & Gardens Tour

cape-holiday-april-201512-1-1-5 day add on 22 to 27 April

Minimum of 6 required.

Price quoted in Canadian dollars.

$1,690 double room shared.

$450 single room supplement

Details at end of the itinerary.

Cape Town is known for great restaurants and stunningly beautiful natural surroundings that feature the unique fynbos floral kingdom. Odette and Val have designed an exclusive Cape Town extension for our Tour group that will start at the end of the main tour. Enjoy four days immersed in the rich botanical treasures and cuisine of Cape Town and surrounding areas. Acilia Schoeman of Cape Town, with 20 year’s experience, will be your guide. We are very pleased to be working with her. Check out this quick video to give you a little taste of the city.


DAY ZERO: Friday April 22 (B)

v-a-waterfrontThis is departures day for Val’s main tour. Some tour members will be flying home. Today will be a free day for those choosing to stay on for the Food & Garden’s Tour. You’ll be in same hotel at the V&A Waterfront area and close to many attractions. It is a safe area to walk around and has easy access to taxis.

PH BREAKWATER LODGE Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area, our base in Cape Town.

DAY ONE:  Saturday April 23 (L)

pincushion-proteas.20151106-122226-Our guide Acilia will join us this morning and we start our day at the Neighbourgoods Market, a foodie Mecca at the Old Biscuit Mill. Choose your breakfast from the many specialty merchants including celebrated local chefs, farmers and bakers, serving artisanal local food. There are also many arts and craft displays to be seen at the Old Biscuit Mill.

Our next stop is Kirstenbosch Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and always a fascinating place to relax, and enjoy the hugely diverse botanical treasures of South Africa. Enjoy a guided tour in one of the most famous botanic gardens of the world, set against the slopes of Table Mountain. Walk along the fabulous Treetop Canopy Walkway that twists and turns between the tree trunks and forest canopy. Lunch is at the Botanical Gardens Tea Room is a Cape Town tradition. After lunch stroll around on your own to absorb more of the special theme gardens before returning to the V&A Waterfront district. Dinner on your own.


DAY TWO: Sunday April 24 (BL)

cape-mala-dishThe rich history of the Cape Malay people is reflected in their distinctive cuisine originating from Southeast Asia in the 1600s. Their recipes and culinary practices were adapted to local conditions and embraced by various early European settlers in the Cape, to create the ultimate fusion cuisine. Today Cape Malay food is a favourite all over South Africa. Enjoy a Cape Malay cooking class in a local home in the charming Bo-Kaap District. Shop for exotic spices, and then learn how to use them in treasured family recipes from our chef. A memorable feast will conclude your special visit to this fascinating community.

bokaapAfter lunch, we’ll stroll around the nearby historic Company’s Gardens  where the first settlers started the gardens in 1650 to supply trading vessels rounding the Cape of Good Hope on their way to the East for spices.

Our day ends at the National Art Gallery, South Africa’s leading art museum.Return to the V&A Waterfront and dinner on your own.


DAY THREE: Monday April 25 (BL)

fynbos-walkPut on your walking shoes, as we’ll spend the morning on a gentle nature ramble along a glorious fynbos trail on the Cape Peninsula. Fynbos forms part of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom which is the smallest yet most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms. Our experienced guide will take us out into nature to really enjoy the aroma and textures of fynbos and learn more of this extensive floral kingdom. Refreshments included.

Why Kirstenbosch Garden And Cape Floral Kingdom Are SA’s No. 3 Tourist Attraction

Read more:

scenic-cape-driveLunch is in the village of Noordhoek where you can look forward to fine dining in a casual ambiance at a renowned restaurant, The Foodbarn, listed as one of Cape Town’s 10 Best. After lunch stroll around the Noordhoek Farm Village with its interesting collection of shops. Dinner on your own tonight.


DAY FOUR: Tuesday April 26 (BL)

babylonstoren-chefs-in-the-garden-photosWe’ll head into the Cape Winelands, with it’s famed vineyards and charming villages. It’s a jewel in the crown of South Africa’s many lush landscapes. Our first stop is a guided walk in the amazing Babylonstoren Garden. Its formal structure has over 300 varieties of edible plants in the garden and is a feast for the eyes.

Learn more:

demeyr-diningWe continue on for our special lunch at The Table located on the De Meye winery in the Muldersvlei region, South Africa’s most prestigious wine making area. The owner-chef serves a set menu inspired by the freshest local ingredients, in a delightful setting. Local wine is included.

In the afternoon we visit the extraordinary sculptural garden of artist landscape designer Henk Scholtz in the charming village of Franschhoek.

Tonight we’ll celebrate our richly diverse journey together with a Farewell Dinner at a fine dining Cape Town restaurant.


DAY FIVE: Wednesday April 27 (B)

Departure Day. Transfer to the airport in the morning.

IMG_1829Food and Gardens Add-On Price Includes:

  • 5 nights hotel accommodations 22 – 26 April
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary – 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 dinner
  • Local wine and beer with farewell dinner.
  • Hotel / Airport transfer on 27 April.
  • Land transport in air-conditioned coach with bottled water on board.
  • Registered South African tour guide accompanying the tour.
  • Additional Specialist on-site guides.
  • Tips for meals and luggage handling.
  • Entrance fees for venues as required.


Food and Gardens Add-On Price Does Not Include:

Items are the same as in main tour:

  • Round trip flight to South Africa.
  • Airport taxes.
  • Meals and drinks not specified in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Tips for tour guide and coach driver.
  • Personal expenses and self-selected activities.