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. 

4:00 pm Late afternoon orientation tour of Cape Town.

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.

Evening at leisure.

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.

Full morning dedicated to the visit of the Iziko South African Museum with Dr Deano Stynder, Curator of the Cenozoic Palaeontology Collections.

The visit will focus on Dr Stynder’s main research field, which is human evolution in the ecological contexts.

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.

Lunch at Oasis Bistro of the Mount Nelson Hotel.  

After lunch, 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. 

Following our visit, we continue to Chapman’s Peak where we focus on the geology of this site declared Natural World Heritage by UNESCO.

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.

Return to our hotel.

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.

may 5

cape town

Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning for a full day in Stellenbosch. We will visit two of the most famous wineries for tastings, tours and a lunch. 

We begin the morning with an introduction to the wine region.

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.

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 with pre-history researchers from the University of Cape Town.

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

may 6



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning by bus to the Cederberg Mountains, a natural area unique for its biodiversity and important archaeological sites.

We stop along the way to visit the Sevilla Rock Art Trail and explore the rock art sites with an archaeologist.

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.

Lunch at Traveller’s Rest.

After lunch we continue by bus to the wilderness reserve of Bushmans Kloof nestled in the beautiful 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 a researcher about  the 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, including the two major sites of Bleeding Nose Shelter and Fallen Rock Shelter.

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.

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.

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.

Transfer back to Bushmans Kloof.

Lunch at the lodge.

Continue visiting rock art sites this afternoon surrounding Bushmans Kloof.

Return to the hotel at the end of the afternoon.

Traditional South African braai dinner tonight, joined by the researchers who have toured with us in Cederberg.

Overnight: Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg, South Africa.

may 8

cederberg to george


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Optional early morning nature and game drive at Bushmans Kloof.

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 for breakfast.

After breakfast, check out and depart by bus to Cape Town.

Light lunch at Durbanville Hills Wine Estate.

Flight to George.

George is the sixth oldest town in South Africa, situated in the beautiful Western Cape Province and is the Capital of the Southern Cape. Situated on a 10 kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. One of its most famoust landmarks is The Tree, an ancient English Oak planted by Landdrost van Kervel. Known as the Slave Tree because of the very large chain and lock embedded in the trunk, it has been declared a national monument.  

Arrival and transfer by private bus to our hotel, the Fancourt Hotel. Check in and time to relax before dinner.

The Fancourt Hotel lies at the foot of the majestic Outeniqua mountains in the heart of the Garden Route. Fancourt’s original homestead, built in 1859, was recently rejuvenated as the new luxury boutique hotel - Manor House at Fancourt - and offers guests both natural beauty and supreme luxury. Fancourt is one of South Africa’s premier golf resorts, featuring three highly rated Championship golf courses.

Dinner tonight at our hotel’s classic-meets-contemporary restaurant, Henry Whites.

Overnight: Fancourt Hotel, George, South Africa.

may 9



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Departure this morning to Plettenberg Bay for a visit to the Nelson Bay Cave.

Nelson Cave is the first archaeological site Dr. Richard Klein excavated in South Africa more than 40 years ago. 

Also known as Wagenaar's Cave, this is a Stone Age archaeological site located on the Robberg Peninsula and facing Nelson's Bay. The cave show evidence of human occupation as far back as 125,000 years ago. Excavation of the Late Quaternary fill of the cave has provided a rich assemblage of mammalian remains dated between ca. 18,000 and 5000 radiocarbon years B.P.

Lunch to follow.

Continue our exploration of Plettenberg Bay surrounding areas.

Receding sea levels of some 80 000 years ago exposed the archaeological area on Robberg peninsula. Archaeological investigation combined with solar-powered illumination reveal a remarkable story of successive (at times interrupted) periods of early habitation.


Transfer back to George along the Garden Route.

Evening at leisure.

Overnight: Fancourt Hotel, George, South Africa.

may 10

george to johannesburg


Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Short transfer to George airport to catch our early morning flight to Johannesburg.

Pick up by private bus upon arrival and transfer to the township of Soweto to visit 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.

Lunch in a traditional African restaurant in Soweto.

Continue to the Apartheid Museum for a guided tour.

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.

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

Check-in, time to unpack and rest before the evening.

Dinner tonight at The Cube.

Overnight: The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

may 11



Full buffet breakfast in the restaurant of our hotel.

Depart this morning to the University of Witwatersrand, a world reknowned center for studies on evolution.

Morning visit to the Institute of Human Evolution where Professor Lee Berger will talk about his last archaeological discoveries and the ongoing research projects (A. Sediba and Rising Star).

A team of South African and international scientists from the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)  and 15 other global institutions, published six papers and an introduction by Prof. Lee Berger, the lead author and project leader, in the prestigious journal Science tomorrow.

The papers report on some of the most complete early human ancestral remains ever discovered.  The 2-million-year-old fossils belong to the species Australopithecus sediba (Au. sediba) and provide what Berger describes as “unprecedented insight into the anatomy and phylogenetic position of an early human ancestor”.

Bernhard Zipfel shows us the "Fossil Vault" with famous South African fossils like "Little Foot", Sediba, and the Taung Child.

Private lunch at The Wits Club with researchers from the University of Witwatersrand.

After lunch we visit the Origins Centre.

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.

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

Dinner this evening at our hotel, joined by colleagues and partners from the University of Witwatersrand.

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.

Transfer to Witts University late this morning to visit with Kris Carlson who shows us the Micro CT Scanner.

Lunch at the Tumulus restaurant enjoying the views of the Witwatersberg vista and Magaliesberg mountain ranges.

Transfer to the The Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999. The site contains numerous limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves, where the 2.3-million year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed “Mrs. Ples”) was found in 1947 by Dr. Robert Broom and John T. Robinson.

Guided visit of the Sterkfontein Caves with archaeologists Ron Clarke, Kathy Kuman and Dominique Stratford from the University of Witwatersrand.

Within the Sterkfontein Caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. The most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old.

Gala final evening - a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy dinner in the cave.

"Cocktails and Tales with Dinner in Sterkfontein" (Sundowners overlooking Cradle).

Followed by, Tales with Professor Ronald Clarke (protege of Louis Leakey).

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.