We’re pleased to offer our 6th Arts & Culture tour to South Africa. Spend 20 days exploring a rich cultural collage of landscapes, people, wildlife and decorative arts. We travel with social awareness, curiosity and sensitivity. We support community social and craft initiatives, and  local experts and guides inform us along the way. A hallmark of our tours is unusual, off-the-beaten-track places. April is a delightful month to visit South Africa because the intense summer heat has abated, yet it’s still warm.

Our journey begins in Johannesburg where we’ll explore one of the fascinating cultural hubs developed from re-purposed industrial sites, featuring arts, culture and African fabrics. Local residents welcome us to Soweto and guide us through a memorable visit, including meeting  residents and a traditional lunch at a local home. We’ll see Nelson Mandela’s humble home and learn about Soweto’s  significant political history. We’ll drive to the rural Winterveld area to visit an embroidery group and marvel at their charming hand embroidered hangings and then on to a wild life reserve in a vast, ancient volcano.

Sub-tropical Durban in KwaZulu Natal, a short flight away, is our next destination. Enjoy a special gathering with textile artists and quilters at a private home, including a presentation of the Isipethu Embroidery group story cloths. We’ll greet the warm Indian Ocean with a late afternoon dip.  The Grey Street area – my favourite place to buy fabrics – is where we’ll tour the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. At the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, we’ll be moved by the devoted work of this organization and see some of the best contemporary Zulu bead work being made in South Africa. Visits to a world-renowned Ceramics studio and a private African museum complete our KwaZulu Natal sojourn. A short flight starts our adventures in the Eastern Cape.

We’re very excited about our 2-night visit to the remote hamlet of Hamburg on the beautiful Wild Coast. Here we’ll learn about the remarkable Keiskamma Trust and their multi-level work in art and healing. We continue to Grahamstown to visit to a noted South African artist, stopping at charming towns along the way. Then, its safari time! Spend 2 nights near the Addo Elephant Reserve where we expect to see a wide variety of animals. Another short flight takes us to the Western Cape.

Then on to the Cape wine lands and Stellenbosch. We’ll learn more about  South African history, architecture, contemporary arts and gardens as we soak in the elegance of this region, and of course, sip fine estate wines in this stunningly beautiful part of South Africa.

Our final days are in Cape Town, one of the world’s beautiful cities. We’ll explore the Cape Malay quarter and its cuisine, Table Mountain and galleries, and spend a day driving the spectacular Cape Peninsula with a visit to an African penguin colony. Our farewell dinner is at a lively African restaurant to enjoy diverse cuisines and warm hospitality.

shopping for African fabrics

“It was a memorable experience; extremely full of wonderful activities, I feel I got an astonishingly good introduction to South Africa.”  Lisa K, Canada.

“It was far more than I expected as not only did I see the “ tourist musts” but I felt I got some understanding of local life. Interwoven in all these activities was the history and present day issues of South Africa. It was as if the tour were tailor made for me and was my trip of a lifetime.” Joan C, Canada

“Even without being an artist, one cannot help but be engaged in the culture. Thank you for giving me an experience I’ll not forget. The passion you have for South Africa is inspiring.” Karen M, Australia.

It has been a truly delightful experience. Felt safe, stimulated, spoiled, excited, anticipatory, comfortable and very lucky to go everywhere we went. Too much fun every day. Thank you for opening our eyes to the wonders of your fantastic country. Maggie and Fred, Canada

It was a great group, the hotels were interesting, unusual, the art and craft scenes were almost beyond belief…. the scenery was outstanding, the food was wonderful…and the leadership was perfect…what more can I say? Thank you everyone, especially the leaders, for this unforgettable experience. Bev W, Canada.

More testimonials here

Travel. The tour starts in Johannesburg and ends in Cape Town. Tour members pay for airfare to South Africa and 3 short internal flights. We tour in a comfortable air-conditioned coach with on-board toilet. South Africa has good roads, excellent hotels and safe tap water, and we’re never far from good medical attention. The exchange rate is favourable and ATMs plentiful.

Accommodations & Food. We choose 3 and 4 star hotel, lodges and B&B accommodations to enhance your experience of South Africa and, of course, fabulous South African food will sustain us throughout. We select interesting restaurants for our group meals. Meals included are: all breakfasts (except day of arrival), 16 lunches and 11 dinners. South Africa has wonderful wines which are included in our welcome and farewell dinners. All other beverages are at your account.

 

Val with Mapula friend.

Tour Leader is myself, Val Hearder, and I’m joined by my husband, Veryan Haysom. We were born in South Africa and are Canadian citizens. We’ll share our love of South Africa with you. Seasoned Tour Guides also accompany us throughout, enriching our experience.

Tour Operator is noted textile artist Odette Tolksdorf, who lives in South Africa. Odette has 15 years experience in planning cultural tours to South Africa and we have worked closely for 9 years on our tours.

 

The tour welcomes everyone, singles and

couples, women and men. A brief itinerary and pricing details follow below. Be sure to click on the links. A detailed itinerary will be sent to those who register for the tour. We reserve the right to vary or change the itinerary and price.

You can find out more about some of the groups we visit at The Makers link. Contact Val for Registration and more details. Most photos on this page were taken on our tours. See more tour photos here.

 


ITINERARY

JOHANNESBURG

3 nights, Protea Marriott Balalaika Hotel, Sandton

DAY 1: Monday 8 APRIL. D

A warm welcome to South Africa! Our hotel in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs has landscaped gardens and is an oasis in a dynamic and lively city. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s Welcome Dinner at a fine restaurant.

 

DAY 2: Tuesday 9 APRIL. BLD

Johannesburg is a high-energy, financial power center with extraordinary wealth along-side third-world poverty and everything in between. There is a strong drive in Jo’burg which fosters a creative energy that is seen and felt everywhere. Today we’ll learn about one new trend that is transforming industrial sites into vibrant cultural hubs. Local guides will join us to visit one of the newest transformations. We’ll learn about the visionary blend of social development and commercial enterprise that has given rise to artist’s studios, artisan’s workshops, art galleries and a community food garden. We’ll also visit busy downtown shops selling wonderful African fabrics and we’ll experience some transplanted Ethiopian culture along the way.

We dine together with the group tonight.

 

 

 

DAY 3: Wednesday 10 APRIL. BL

Soweto, the vast township south west of Johannesburg is our destination this morning. We’ll be hosted by a community-based organization dedicated to sharing their community. Walk the famous Vilakazi Street to Nelson Mandela’s first humble home. At the Hector Peterson Memorial we’ll learn more about the historic 1976 Soweto students’ uprising that sparked the eventual downfall of apartheid. Lunch will be a typical African lunch at a local home while visiting and sharing in a cultural exchange with people from the community.

In the afternoon we visit a textile mill that has been manufacturing quality blankets and throws for many years. Learn about the designs of traditional Basotho and Ndebele blankets and their deep cultural significance and history.

Your own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.


MAPULA and PILANESBERG NATIONAL PARK : 

2 nights, Bakubung Bush Lodge, Pilanesberg

DAY 4: Thursday 11 APRIL. BLD

We’ll drive to the rural Winterveldt area this morning to visit the women from the remarkable Mapula Embroidery Group.This is always a highlight for our tour members. We’ll visit the makers at their homes, learn about this 28 year old project and have an opportunity to purchase brightly coloured and highly collectable embroideries that tell stories of their lives.

Afterwards we continue our journey to our destination, a wonderful lodge where we’ll stay for the next two nights. It’s located at the serene Pilanesberg National Park which is set within the crater of an ancient, long-extinct volcano that is a landmark feature. In the late afternoon we’ll set out on safari accompanied by qualified and knowledgeable field guides for an evening wildlife drive.

               

 

DAY 5:  Friday 12 APRIL. BLD

Enjoy a morning safari in the Park with our local field guides. Experience the wilderness and diverse indigenous plant and animal life that may be encountered including Africa’s Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo) and other animals such as zebra, giraffe, cheetah, hippo and various antelope. Travel among varied habitats and panoramas enjoying the splendid natural beauty.

There will be leisure time to enjoy the amenities at the lodge – indulge yourself at the spa, have a dip in the pool, enjoy the sunshine and relax at the terrace with sublime views.  We’ll also take in a cultural activity today and learn about the heritage, culture and traditions of the local community living nearby.

 

 

 

 


 DURBAN and KZN MIDLANDS 

4 nights, The Benjamin Hotel, Durban 

DAY 6: Saturday 13 APRIL. Flight Jo’burg to Durban. BD

We depart from OR Tambo airport for our short flight to Durban, a subtropical city of many cultures on South Africa’s east coast. We stay in a charming boutique hotel ideally located in the heart of Florida Road.

 

 

 

DAY 7: Sunday 14 APRIL. BL

Drive into the lush suburbs for a welcoming visit at the home and studio of a well-known textile artist. We’ll meet other quilt/textile artists, who’ll share their work, and painter Judy Jordan, who will give us a short presentation on the Isipethu Embroidery Group.  Judy and a member of the group will travel from Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal to show us their charming embroidery and appliqué story cloths that tell stories in stitches about the lives of women in contemporary Zulu society.

Later we’ll take a drive to the Durban beachfront and the Indian Ocean! Dip your toes in, have a swim or enjoy a walk along the promenade.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 

 

DAY 8:  Monday 15 APRIL. BL

Durban Indian Market

Take a walk in the lively Indian and African Market area in downtown Durban. See local crafts, a sari shop, street vendors, and perhaps munch a hot samoosa!

Visit one of the largest mosques in the Southern Hemisphere, the Grey Street or Juma Masjid Mosque for a guided tour. Afterwards relax with a casual picnic and a walk in the lush Durban Botanic Gardens to explore this botanical treasure with its rare plants. Our next visit takes us to the Phansi Museum for a guided tour. This private museum has a spectacular collection of Southern African arts, crafts, artifacts and traditional costumes, all creatively exhibited in a restored Victorian mansion.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 

DAY 9: Tuesday 16 APRIL. BL

Today we visit the inspiring Hillcrest AIDS Centre where we’ll learn about their multifaceted projects including exotic contemporary Zulu bead work jewelry. The day continues with a drive through the scenic KwaZulu-Natal Midlands countryside, to the renowned Ardmore Ceramic Studio. We’ll be inspired by the flamboyant ceramics depicting African fauna, flora and people that intrigue collectors from all over the world including at Christies Auction House. See each step of the production and learn about this remarkable studio started by artist Fée Halsted and how it responds to social issues of the day.  After lunch and a brief stop at the Mandela Capture Site Monument to see the notable Cianfanelli sculpture, we’ll return to Durban.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 

 


EASTERN CAPE, HAMBURG  

2 nights, Mpekweni Beach Resort 

DAY 10: Wednesday 17 APRIL Flight Durban to East London BLD

We depart Durban from King Shaka airport and, after a short flight to East London, drive to Mpekweni Beach Resort, our relaxing accommodation for the next two nights. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure – take a rest at the pool, stroll along the endless secluded beach with thundering surf and sand dunes or along the tranquil lagoon.

 

 

 

DAY 11: Thursday 18 APRIL. BLD

Our day is spent with community members of the small coastal hamlet of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape for an enriching cultural experience. We’ll be immersed in the remarkable projects and energy of the Keiskamma Trust, founded by artist and medical doctor Carol Baker Hofmeyr in response to the extreme poverty and the high percentage of HIV/AIDS affected families in the area. Carol put into practice her belief that for people to truly heal, they need good food for their bodies, income and creativity for their souls.

The Trust operates a hospice, crèche, veggie gardens, community outreach, training and enrichment projects, an acclaimed music academy and more. Their multifaceted Education Program includes reaching out to hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in the area. Their achievements have transformed people’s lives in this Xhosa community. The strong embroidery group has undertaken monumental art projects like the Keiskamma Altarpiece. This powerful social upliftment project will inspire us deeply with lifelong memories.

We return to Mpekweni for an early evening stroll on the beach and enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner together tonight.

 

 

GRAHAMSTOWN

1 night, 2 accommodations: St. Aidans Guest Cottage and Annex

DAY 12: Friday 19 APRIL.  BLD

South Africa’s mohair industry is said to be a world leader and today we drive to a rural area to visit a labour intensive mohair workshop that produces designer scarves, shawls, home textiles and hand-knitting yarns. Spinning, dyeing, knitting and crocheting are done by a group of mainly Xhosa women. Farm sheds and outbuildings converted into workshops extend into a landscape of wild flowers and trees. The business observes fair trade and green standards, using finest quality mohair from angora goats, wool locally sourced in the Karoo region, and other natural fibres such as silk and alpaca.

Continuing our journey we stopover at Bathurst, a picturesque small town with original houses from the 1820 British Settlers. We’ll drop in to visit one or two galleries and studios en route.  Our destination is the town of Grahamstown, home to Rhodes University and to more than forty churches and religious buildings which gave it the nickname “City of Saints”.

Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner together.

 

ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK

2 nights, 2 accommodations: Elephant House and Woodall Country House 

DAY 13:  Saturday 20 APRIL BLD

We start our morning with an exclusive studio visit to well-known artist Sally Scott who will share her creative journey in painting and textile art. Be inspired by her wonderful art which has a strong African connection and hear about her influences, inspiration and art processes.

We drive from Grahamstown and continue to the Addo Elephant National Park, the third largest national park in South Africa. Addo is known for having one of the greatest population densities of African elephant in the world, so the chances of close sightings of elephant herds are very good.

In the afternoon we’ll visit the local township for a special cultural encounter. Meet the people, who are predominately Xhosa speaking, and experience life in a modern rural township.

 

 

 

DAY 14: Sunday 21 APRIL. BLD

We’ll set out this morning for a safari wildlife drive in Addo Elephant Park to experience the spirit of Africa. Travel in open-sided safari vehicles with qualified and knowledgeable guides while looking for wild animals. In addition to the elephants the ecosystem in this wildlife conservation park sustains lion, buffalo, black rhino, leopard, spotted hyena, various antelope and zebra species, as well as the special Addo flightless dung beetle. Our drive will also be a delight for bird watchers and plant lovers.

 

 

 

 


STELLENBOSCH AND WINELANDS

2 nights, Oude Werf Hotel

DAY 15: Monday 22 APRIL. Flight Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. BL

Drive to Port Elizabeth for our flight to Cape Town. We’ll drive to the famed Cape Winelands to enjoy a picnic lunch and beautiful gardens on a renowned wine estate.

Our hotel for the next two nights is centrally situated in the historic and attractive university town of Stellenbosch. The French Huguenot, Dutch and Afrikaans heritage of this area is represented in the many examples of restored Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Enjoy a walk on your own around the picturesque oak-lined streets and many boutiques, galleries and restaurants.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 

DAY 16 : Tuesday 23 APRIL. BL

Our first activity today is a guided walk in the inspiring fruit and vegetable garden of  Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch style farms. The formal structure of the garden has a great diversity of edible plants in a spectacular setting. Fresh produce harvested from the gardens, supplies the Babylonstoren restaurants where we’ll enjoy lunch.

After lunch we drive to Franschhoek, a small town in a beautiful wine valley. It’s one of South Africa’s oldest towns and the historical influence from the French Huguenots still remains. Take a relaxing stroll around the town and enjoy wonderful art, design and antique shops and galleries as well as market stalls and coffee shops.

We return to Stellenbosch with time to stroll around the town before your own dinner arrangements at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 


CAPE TOWN

3 nights, The Commodore Hotel

DAY 17:  Wednesday 24 APRIL. BL

We head into Cape Town today. Enjoy a morning steeped in the culture of the colourful Bo-Kaap/ Cape Malay Quarter with its cobbled lanes and brightly coloured flat-roofed homes. It’s a photographer’s delight. Meet our local guide for a walk around this historic area, closely associated with Cape Town’s Muslims to learn about this tight knit community and enjoy an authentic Cape Malay lunch.

Next we’ll visit the newly opened Zeitz (MOCAA) Museum of Contemporary African Art, that has been creating a stir in the art world as a show case for cutting-edge art from Africa and the Diaspora. The art is exhibited over several floors and the museum’s structure has attracted as much attention as the art itself. Huge 1920’s grain silos have been carved out and transformed into a spectacular creation under the vision of designer Thomas Heatherwick.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel which is at the edge of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

 

DAY 18: Thursday 25 APRIL. BL

Today we’ll experience the famously scenic Cape Peninsula drive to the tip of Cape Point, the most southern tip of the African continent. We drive through a nature reserve with indigenous flora and fauna, including the fynbos floral kingdom. Take a short ride in the funicular to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views.

Afterwards we’ll take a walk for close-up views of the colony of African penguins at Boulders. Our return journey to the V&A Waterfront via Chapmans Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.

Own dinner arrangements tonight at one of several restaurants close to the hotel.

 

 

DAY 19: Friday 26 APRIL. BD

Today we’ll take the cable car (weather permitting) to the top of Table Mountain and enjoy the wide, magnificent views of Cape Town and out to Robben Island. Take a short walk around one of the trails to enjoy this fascinating ecosphere .

 

We then visit two fabulous stores offering articles from the African continent. One store has a variety of wonderful African fabrics including wax prints and South Africa’s iconic shweshwe fabric. The next store designs, markets and promotes finely crafted hand woven basketry in an ethical and sustainable manner and has a great selection of unusual baskets.

Lunch is on your own and the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy the V&A Waterfront with its array of galleries, shops and restaurants.

In the evening we celebrate the final night of our South African adventure with a Farewell Dinner at a restaurant serving inspired culinary delights from across the African continent, complemented by unique traditional entertainment and decor.

 

 

DAY 20: Saturday 27 APRIL. Departure Day

Day of Departure. We say farewell after breakfast. Your shuttles will be arranged for today’s flights home. We encourage you to stay on in Cape Town to enjoy the many sights and cultural treasures this city has to offer.

 


TOUR COSTS AND DETAILS

$9,790.00 (Canadian)  per person double room shared. Approximately $7,650.00 US

$2,800 (CAD) for Single Supplement

PRICE INCLUDES

  • 19 nights shared accommodation in double occupancy en-suite room (single supplement is available)
  • Meals as specified on the itinerary – 46 meals: 19 breakfasts (every day except arrival day),

16 lunches and 11 dinners. Welcome Dinner and Farewell Dinner include local wine and beer. On Day One only the Welcome Dinner is included and on the day of departure only breakfast is included.

  • Airport / hotel transfers
  • Land transport in air-conditioned coach with toilet and bottled water on board
  • Registered and experienced South African English-speaking tour guide accompanying the tour
  • Several additional specialist on-site guides throughout the tour
  • Exclusive private visits to homes and artist studios
  • Game drives at two game parks, accompanied by experienced guides in safari vehicles
  • Entrance fees, cultural programs, gardens and art museum
  • Tips for restaurant staff, luggage handling and specialist guides
  • Hotel and local taxes for goods and services, road toll fees

 

PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • International flight to and from South Africa
  • Three internal flights:  1. Jo’burg to Durban; 2. Durban to East London; 3. Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, approximately $100 to $150 each
  • Airport taxes and fees, if there are any
  • Travel and Medical insurance
  • Any accommodation, meals and beverages not specified in the itinerary or due to delays and emergency
  • Tips for Tour Guide and Coach Driver
  • Personal expenses and self-selected activities

 

We reserve the right to substitute or make changes to the itinerary due to conditions beyond our control. Changes to the itinerary will not result in eligibility for a refund.

The tour is 19 nights and 20 days including arrival and departure days in South Africa.The tour starts late afternoon in Johannesburg on 8 April and ends in Cape Town on 27 April after breakfast and transport to the airport.

NOTE: Any costs for departures from Cape Town after 27 April will be for the participant’s own account.