I invite you to join me on our 5th Arts & Culture tour to South Africa. It’s our longest one yet! 21 days exploring a nature and culture rich collage of landscapes, people, wildlife and decorative arts. A hallmark of our tours is interesting, off-the-beaten-track places. We travel with social awareness, curiosity and sensitivity. We support local social and craft initiatives with local experts informing and delighting us along the way. We visit in April because the intense summer heat has abated yet it’s still delightfully warm.

Our journey begins in Johannesburg. We’ll visit some of the most ancient fossil sites ever discovered and learn about the origins of humankind. We’ll visit Soweto for a visit to Nelson Mandela’s humble home and a cultural exchange with a community group. We’ll drive to the Winterveld to visit the Mapula embroidery group and marvel at charming hand embroidered hangings. Be moved by the Constitutional Court,  symbolic of the triumphant end to Apartheid. Learn about the vibrant arts at a leading contemporary art gallery, then visit the incomparable Kim Sacks Gallery for the finest in African artifacts and contemporary crafts.

6a00d8341da4c753ef01bb08f8b60e970dSub-tropical Durban in KwaZulu Natal, a morning flight away, is our next destination. Enjoy a special gathering with local textile artists and quilters at a private home, including a presentation of the Isipethu embroidery group. Dip your toes in the warm Indian Ocean, shop for fabrics in the busy Market area… my favourite place to buy fabrics as a teenager. We will visit the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, learn about its inspiring projects and see some of the best contemporary Zulu bead work being made in South Africa. Visits to a world-renowned Ceramics studio, a private African museum, and a leading sculptor 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 Wild Coast. Here we’ll learn about the remarkable Keiskamma Trust and their multi-level work in art and healing. We continue toyoung giraffe Grahamstown to visit to a noted South African artist, stopping at charming towns along the way. Then, its safari time! Spend 2 nights at the Addo Elephant Reserve where we expect to see a wide variety of animals.

Next we explore the Karoo with its semi-arid and utterly beautiful landscape. We’ll visit the mysterious Owl House, home of outsider artist Helen Martins, in the tiny, remote town of Nieu Bethesda. We’ll search out fossils; ancient San rock art and enjoy delicious traditional South African food after a ramble through an amazing cactus labyrinth.

Then on to the Cape wine lands and Stellenbosch. We’ll learn more about ancient San culture, South African history, architecture, contemporary arts and music as we soak in the elegance of this region, and of course, fine estate wines.

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 full day with a nature expert who’ll lead us on an enriching tour of Kirstenbosch, the Cape Peninsula, and African penguins. Our farewell dinner is at a lively African restaurant to enjoy diverse cuisines and warm hospitality.

6a00d8341da4c753ef01bb08c9e49f970d“It was a memorable experience; extremely full of wonderful activities, I feel I got an astonishingly good introduction to South Africa.”  Lisa K, Canada, 2016.

“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 2016

“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, 2016 

Read more testimonials here.

Travel. Tour members pay for airfare to South Africa and 2 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 accommodation 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), 17 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.

Valerie Hearder

Val Hearder

Tour Leader is myself, Val Hearder, and I’m joined by my husband, Veryan Haysom. We were both born in South Africa and are Canadian citizens and will share our love of South Africa with you. A seasoned Tour Guide also accompanies us throughout, enriching our experience with her insights.

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 8 years on our tours.

The tour welcomes everyone, singles and couples, women and men. A brief itinerary and pricing follow. 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.