south africa
may 3-13, 2015
archaeological pre-trip, april 30-May 2, 2015

may 3

ARRIVALS INto cape town


For those who wish to spend extra days in Cape Town or elsewhere in South Africa prior to the trip, 

  • Hotel rooms can be reserved. 
  • Restaurant suggestions can be provided. 
  • Ideas for visits that will not be part of the program can be supplied. 
  • Independent guides can be organized. 

Arrivals on flights into Cape Town.

If your flight arrives early in the morning, you may wish to book your room for the night before. Rooms cannot be guaranteed before check-in time at 3:00 pm.

Private transfers to our hotel, The Victoria & Alfred Hotel located on The Waterfront Pier. 

Time to check-in, unpack, relax after the long flight. 

2:00 p.m. Gather in the lobby for a general historical, cultural and social orientation tour of Cape Town, including Table Mountain, Bo Kaap, the Cape Malay Quarter and the Castle of Good Hope.

A historical, cultural and social orientation tour of Cape Town, including Table Mountain, Bo Kaap - the Cape Malay Quarter and the Castle of Good Hope.

Cape Town

The second most populous city in the country of South Africa and considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is a rare cultural mix, resulting from the amalgamation of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes and the Bantu tribes from the north.

Bo Kaap-Cape Malay

The Cape Malay community is an ethnic group that derives its name from the present-day Western Cape of South Africa. The community's earliest members were enslaved Javanese transported by the Dutch East India Company. They were followed by slaves from various other Southeast Asian regions, and political dissidents and Muslim religious leaders who opposed the Dutch presence in what is now Indonesia and were sent into exile. Malays also have significant South Asian (Indian) slave ancestry. Starting in 1654, these resistors were imprisoned or exiled in South Africa by the Dutch East India Company, which founded and used what is now Cape Town as a resupply station for ships traveling between Europe and Asia. They were the group that first introduced Islam to South Africa.

Castle of Good Hope

Castle of Good Hope is a star fort built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station, and is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.

From 1678 it was the center of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from the Castle. Today the Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape, and houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town (William Fehr Collection).

In 1936 the Castle was declared a national monument and following restorations in the 1980s it is considered the best preserved example of a Dutch East India Company fort.

Table Moutain

One of Africa's most famous landmarks, the sandstone mountain is some two miles wide and 3,500 feet high, offering magnificent views of Table Bay, Robben Island, and the Cape Town city, which completely encircles it.

The phenomena of clouds pouring over the top of Table Mountain, is what gives the mountain its name.

Note. Due to the unpredictable nature of Cape Town weather, a visit to the top of Table Mountain is dependent on weather conditions.

Dinner this evening at Harbour House restaurant at The Waterfront, just a couple minutes’ walk from our hotel. 

Overnight: The Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa.

Built in 1904 as the North Quay Warehouse and converted to a luxury hotel in 1990, it is named in honor of The Queen of England and her son, Prince Alfred. It was the Waterfront's first hotel and it remains the best located with gorgeous harborside views. It was recently renovated and all the bedrooms are spacious and elegant with large bathrooms.

may 4

cape town


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Departure this morning for scenic driver over Chapman’s Peak where we focus on the geology of this site declared Natural World Heritage by UNESCO. We will be joined this morning by Dr. John Parkington.

Carved out of the face of the mountain between 1915 and 1922, the road was at the time regarded as a major feat of engineering and is touted as one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world.  With sheer drops to the sea below and towering mountains rising above you the twists and 114 curves in the road seem endless. 

On the route we will see fascinating geological formations and the Sea Point Contact Zone where we will learn about Darwin’s sociological observations.

Continue to the Southern Suburbs for an in-depth visit of The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, one of the great botanic gardens of the world. 

There are few sites on earth to match the sheer grandeur of this setting against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.  Kirstenbosch was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, the first botanic garden in the world to be so named. 

Continue to the Mount Nelson Hotel.

Afternoon tea / lunch on the veranda at the beautiful colonial style Mount Nelson Hotel.

Short transfer to the Iziko South African Museum.

Visit of the Museum with Dr. John Parkington.

The South African Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance. The collections range from fossils almost 700-million years old to insects and fish caught last week. There are also stone tools made by people 120,000 years ago.

The visit will focus on human evolution in ecological contexts.

Return to our hotel.

Evening at leisure with plenty of options within walking distance of our hotel.

Overnight: The Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa.

may 5

cape town and winelands

Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning for a full day in the Winelands. Arrive at Solms Delta.

Visit the Van de Caab Museum to learn about the complex history of this farm and estate, as well as the archaeological finds made here.

Wine tasting to follow.

South Africa's wine industry goes back to the first European settlement, at Cape Town, more than 350 years ago. Dutch traders established an outpost to supply ships with fresh food and water. Cape Town was roughly halfway between the Netherlands and Dutch trading outposts in Asia.

When the French Huguenots settled at the Cape in 1680s they brought with them the skills and knowledge to truly get viticulture off the ground. The Cape has a mild Mediterranean climate (with winter rainfall) and other conditions that make it suitable for cultivating grapes.

Although most of their grape varieties were imported, South Africa's winemakers have also developed their own cultivars. The most famous is "pinotage," a cross between Pinot Noir and cinsaut.

Continue to the Jordan Wine Estate in beautiful Stellenbosch.

Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making world-class wines since 1993 on a farm with a history going back over 300 years. He’s a geologist, she’s an economist – together this husband and wife team is a phenomenon.

Recently received the Decanter International Chardonnay Trophy, the second time in 3 years.

Lunch at the Jordan Restaurant, rated amongst the Top 10 Best restauants in South Africa.

After lunch we enjoy a tour of the estate with Kathy Jordan, focusing on the archaeological history here and viewing some of the artifacts found through excavations on the property, including Early Stone Age tools.

Travel into the town of Stellenbosch for a general orientation guided walking visit. We will explore the architecture and history of the town as well as having some time to shop the crafts boutiques and specialty shops.

Return to the hotel for time to relax before our special evening.

Cocktail dinner in the bar area of our hotel joined by pre-history professors and researchers from Cape Town and the University.

Overnight: The Victoria & Alfred Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa.

may 6

cape town to CEDERBERG


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning by bus to the Cederberg Mountains, a stunning natural reserve unique for its biodiversity and important archaeological sites, namely rock art.

We will be joined by University of Cape Town archaeologist, Dr. John Parkington, who will travel with us over the next several days.

Lunch at Traveller’s Rest.

Option to visit the Sevilla Rock Art Trail and explore the rock art sites with Dr. Parkington. .

The Sevilla Rock Art trail, found along the spectacular Pakhuis pass road, consists of 10 sites of rock art paintings left behind by the San people, who inhabited the area for thousands of years.

Some are clear depictions of everyday events, other are enigmatic. Thousands of years old, this bushmen rock art speaks of the inhabitants of these rugged mountains. The paintings—often finely detailed and exquisitely colored are viewed largely as narrative accounts of hunter-gatherer life.

Continue either directly after lunch or after the hike by bus to the beautiful Relais & Chateaux wilderness reserve of Bushmans Kloof nestled in the breath-taking Cederberg Mountains.

The ancient landscape here of open plains and sandstone formations is truly unique and the resort offers a quiet recluse to explore the area’s ecology and history.

Check in to the hotel, unpack and some time to relax.

Gather at the Heritage Centre at Bushmans Kloof for an introductory lecture by Dr. Parkington speaking about rock art sites here.

The Bushmen, or San, are thought to have been the first modern human inhabitants of southern Africa. Only a few thousand survive today, living mostly in the desert regions. Their art tells of their ancient lives, with particular emphasis on hunting and the animals around them.

The Bushmen speak one of the oldest forms of language, which includes a variety of clicks they make with their tongues. They became famous worldwide after the 1980 release of the South African movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, a fictional account of how a Bushman is led from his traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle to adventures in an urban environment.

Dinner to follow at Embers, the elegant outdoor restaurant of Bushmans Kloof.

Embers is perched on a dramatic cliff and overlooks the spectacular valley below. It is lit by a roaring fire, and a myriad candles and lanterns create a truly magical atmosphere.

Overnight: Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg, South Africa.

may 7


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart for an excursion of the main rock art sites at Bushmans Kloof, traveling across the Central Reserve and Boonjies River taking in the botanical richness and looking out for wildlife.

Our visits this morning include the two major sites of Branhoek and Fallen Rock.

Bushmans Kloof is one of the most densely painted rock art areas in South Africa, over 130 rock art sites which date back some 10,000 years.

Fallen Rock Shelter is a tectonic cave, a huge rock slab which fell and thus formed a huge shelter. The paintings here are one of the largest collections of images known in the entire Pakhuis region. The paintings are also well-preserved. The cave sediment in the cave not excavated, but some accidental discoveries suggest that there are remains of Bushman occupants like ash and grass.

Return to the lodge.

Buffet and a la carte brunch at the lodge.

Time to relax and enjoy the beautiful lodge resort.

High Tea together with John Parkington available to answer questions and expand on the rock art sites seen this morning.

Continue our rock art exploration this morning across the Central Reserve with visits to Bleeding Nose and Elephant Hunt sites.

At Bleeding Nose Shelter the paintings were made using blue and red colours. They show eland, small antelope, birds, and humans. Pictures of birds are rare, so the birds here are rather extraordinary. The humans are shown standing, dancing and shooting with bows. The site was named after a painting of a man with blood pouring from his nose. The figure is connected to other figures with lines. It is interpreted as a shaman in trance who is connected to his companions by mystical lines of power.

Return to the lodge.

Dinner tonight at the lodge joined by our accompanying rock art guides.  

Overnight: Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg, South Africa.

may 8



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart for the North Eastern part of the Reserve, across the Boonjies River for a visit to Rooigang rock art site.

Pause for a coffee break in the open bush surrounded by sweeping views across the plains.

Continue to visit rock art sites of Sonja’s Upper & Lower.

Buffet and a la carte brunch at the lodge.

Screening of the movie, Dancing with the Bushmen.

Time this afternoon to relax, enjoy the pool or spa, and pack for our departure tomorrow.

High Tea served in the Heritage room with John Parkington available to recap rock sites and answer questions.

Depart for a Nature/Game Drive with our guides elaborating on the flora and fauna of the natural reserve. Animals to be seen here include Cape Mountain Zebra, Baboons, Eland, Bontebok, Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebok and the Ostrich. There are also more than 100 different species of birds found in the Cederberg Mountains.

Bushmans Kloof today protects one of the largest private herds of Cape Mountain Zebra in the world, an animal saved from the brink of extinction. The Cape Mountain Zebra is identified by its bold black and white stripes, as opposed to its savannah-dwelling cousin, the Burchell's Zebra, which has brown 'shadow' stripes, and a creamy undercoat.

The wildlife reintroduction programme has also seen the return of the magnificent Bontebok, Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebok and the Ostrich.

Smaller creatures such as the Bat-Eared Fox, African Wildcat, Cape Fox, Caracal (African Lynx), Cape Clawless Otter, Baboon, Rock Hyrax (Dassie), Klipspringer, Aardwolf and Aardvark also roam the plains and rocky outcrops of the reserve.

Return to the lodge.

Dinner together at The Homestead restaurant of Bushmans Kloof.

Overnight: Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg, South Africa.

may 9

cederburg to johannesburg


Full buffet and a la carte breakfast served at the lodge.

Depart for private airstrip.

9:30 a.m. Charter flight take-off for Cape Town.

10:30 a.m. Arrive in Cape Town private landing area and transfer to main CPT airport.

From CPT, we catch our early afternoon flight to Johannesburg.

12:20 p.m. Flight to Johannesburg.

Arrive in Johannesburg and transfer directly to our hotel, The Michelangelo, housed in a magnificent Renaissance building in the heart of Sandton's business and leisure district.

Check-in, unpack, and settle in.

Gather this evening for an elegant dinner at Piccolo Mondo, the hotel’s mediterannean restaurant.

Overnight: The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa.

may 10



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Morning transfer to Soweto for an introductory overview of the township, its history, and what life is like here.

Visit to the Apartheid Museum.

The Apartheid Museum opened in 2001 and is acknowledged as the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, at the heart of which is the rise and fall of apartheid. For anyone wanting to understand and experience what apartheid South Africa was really like, a visit to the Apartheid Museum is fundamental.

Lunch in a traditional African restaurant in Soweto on the famous Vilakazi Street.

Walk just across the street to visit the Mandela House.

Originally an acronym for "South Western Townships", Soweto is the most populous black urban residential area in South Africa. Since it came into being, Soweto was at the centre of campaigns to overthrow the apartheid state and the home of several political and social luminaries, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, who once lived in the now famous Vilakazi Street.

Continue to visit the Regina Mundi Church, the largest Roman Catholic church in South Africa, very important to the history of Soweto and the anti-apartheid movement.  

Return to our hotel at the end of the afternoon.

Dinner at leisure with plenty of suggestions from casual restaurants to fine dining nearby and by car.

Overnight: The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

may 11



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning for a visit of the Origins Centre with rock art specialist Dr. David Pearce.

Opened by President Thabo Mbeki in 2006, the Origins Centre is home to a vast array of palaeoanthropological, archaeological and genetic materials charting the origins of humankind. The Centre boasts an extensive collection of rock art from the Wits Rock Art Research Institute (RARI), affording visitors the opportunity to view the earliest images made by humans, found in South Africa.

Private lunch at The Wits Club with professors and colleagues from the University of Witwatersrand.

Senior Collections Curator Bernhard Zipfel will take our group to the "Fossil Vault" to see the original South African fossils including "Little Foot", A. Sediba, and the Taung Child.

Continue after lunch for a visit at the Evolutionary Studies Institute.

The Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) was recently established through the amalgamation of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research and the Institute for Human Evolution. The ESI is built on the foundation of more than eight decades of research by the University of the Witwatersrand on the exceptional fossil and archaeological resources available in South Africa. It is the largest palaeontological/ palaeoanthropological research entity in Africa and one of the largest of its kind in the world. 

Visit with Professor Lee Berger who is a paleoanthropologist and an Explorer for National Geographic. He will talk about the discovery of Australopithecus sediba and the ongoing research at Rising Star.

Kristian Carlson, Leakey Foundation Grantee and Senior Researcher in the Evolutionary Studies Institute will provide a behind the scenes visit to the state-of-the art industrial high resolution CT scanner.  Researchers can scan fossils with maximum dimensions of 23 cm and achieve resolution approaching 5 microns.  Scientists use the facility to investigate the wealth of fossils curated in the Palaeosciences Centre, including a substantial amount of material representing human ancestors.  The Virtual Imaging in Palaeosciences laboratory, or VIP lab, is where in silico reconstruction and analysis of these precious fossils take place… allowing scientists to reconstruct fossils back to reality from virtual reality.

Transfer back to the hotel and time to rest before the evening.

Dinner together this evening at The Butcher Shop in Sandton.

Overnight: The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

may 12



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Morning at leisure today to enjoy the hotel, rest and pack for those who depart tomorrow morning.

Depart late morning, making our way to The Cradle of Humankind.  

Stop en route at private game estate Forum Homini.

Lunch at Roots Restaurant at Forum Homini.

Drive to Sterkfontein.

By far the richest and most famous fossil site in South Africa is the Sterkfontein Cave where the bones of 'Little Foot', 'Mrs Ples' and hundreds of others have been found. Along with the 2-million-year-old stone tools unearthed at these sites, the evidence can tell us much about the precursors of modern humans.

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Sterkfontein, (after the site has been closed for the day to the public) with geoarchaeologist and Sterkfontein Coordinator of Research, Dr. Dominic Stratford.

Our group will be joined by paleoanthropologist Dr. Ronald Clarke to discuss his discovery, ‘Little Foot’, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton around 3-million years old. Archeologist Kathy Kuman will also show some of southern Africa’s oldest stone tool assemblages. 

Our final evening together will include a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy Sterkfontein in a truly remarkable way, “Cocktails and Tales.” After sundowners overlooking the Cradle, an intimate dinner will be hosted at the Sterkfontein site. Dr. Clarke, who began his career as a technical assistant to Dr. Louis Leakey in Kenya, will share tales of Louis and Mary Leakey, having worked closely with both, for many years.

Return to the hotel at the end of the evening.

Overnight: The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

may 13



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Departures throughout the day.

Transfers can be organized upon request.