A Tribute to Mandela – Celebrating 100 Years

A 8 day trip to South Africa 
by
4.98198
4.98 out of 5 stars
111 reviews

With more than 100 years that span township, prisons, political spheres and a game reserve retreat, Nelson Mandela's life is legendary. On this 8-day custom tour, led by South Africa’s best guides, this unique tribute follows Mandela’s story from 1950’s Soweto to the post-apartheid legacy he left behind. As you visit iconic and lesser-known sites, then end with a safari where President Mandela used to entertain, you will be immersed in the life of one of the world's greatest politicians. 

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Table Mountain at sunset.
Murals on industrial towers in Soweto.
Two dueling elephants in South Africa.
Lobby of the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg.
South African antelope.
South African wineries.
Aerial view of Cape Town and Table Mountain.
Mother and baby white rhino.
Entrance to Robben Island prison.
Hippos in South Africa.
Bo-Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town.
Kudu bull in South Africa.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Johannesburg, Soweto, Vilakazi Street, Nelson Mandela National Museum, Apartheid Museum, Constitutional Court, Liliesleaf Farm, Cape Town, Table Mountain, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Silo District, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Robben Island, Groote Schuur, District Six, District Six Museum, Harrington Street, South African Jewish Museum, Bo Kaap, Drakenstein Correctional Centre, Waterberg Biosphere, Limpopo, Shambala Private Game Lodge, Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

(Day 1): Johannesburg – Formative Political Years: Mandela’s Home and Legacy in Soweto

Serenity reigns at The Saxon where choral birdsong echoes through the gardens but other than this there is silence. The property hides along a tree-lined avenue in one of Johannesburg’s peaceful suburbs, a haven from which Nelson Mandela drafted South Africa’s interim constitution and edited Long Walk to Freedom. Upon his release in 1990, Mandela returned to his old Soweto home. After the second assassination attempt on his life, he moved to The Saxon. Today, it’s now an award-winning boutique hotel, which will serve as a quiet base for your stay in bustling Johannesburg. Your private driver will meet you at  O.R. Tambo International Airport and escort you to the hotel upon your arrival. 

Once you arrive, you will notice how the colors blur in Soweto. Graffiti covers industrial towers, political murals fill crumbling walls, and everywhere you look there will be another hue. This is the township where Mandela lived and Robin Binks will be your storyteller as he recreates history and recalls his own experiences in a joyous style. Stroll down Vilakazi Street, past Desmond Tutu’s house to Mandela’s small red-brick residence, where a museum tells of the 1950s and 60s. During your visit to Soweto and you will not be able to escape the cultural interaction in this ever-vibrant township that has transformed from a place of grief and protest to a city of enterprise. The apartheid struggle was fought here, and you'll get a sense of where Mandela forged his early political ideals and allegiances as you discover places of uprising that now celebrate South Africa’s future.

What’s Included: airport transfer, tour with Robin Binks, accommodation

(Day 2): Johannesburg – Militant and Revolutionary: The Fight Against Apartheid

Rolihahla was a name Mandela took in his childhood years, when he grew up in rural Transkei. It stuck firmly when he got involved with politics. In colloquial Xhosa it means troublemaker, although it’s worth remembering that Western governments across the world gave Mandela a different name back then – terrorist. In the morning, you will visit the superb Apartheid Museum, where the early struggle for democracy is explained through images and films that show key events and great figures that led the fight. The museum poses poignant questions about justness and law while commemorating the extraordinary humanity of South Africa’s first black president.

In the afternoon, you will relive events from the early 1960s, when the headquarters of the ANC’s military wing was raided and Mandela was arrested and convicted. Wander through what remains of Liliesleaf Farm with your guide, who will offer you an insight into the many revolutionary personalities that helped shape the country. Journey through 150 years of South Africa’s history at Constitutional Hill, where Rolihahla was twice held behind the Old Fort’s walls. Take a look at the turbulent past and move forward into the democratic present, as told by sights and stories that will never be forgotten. Throughout the day you will learn how Mandela’s early political views were refined and how he joined the struggle and you will discover a very different Rolihahla from the Mandela that walked free in Cape Town.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour with Robin Binks, breakfast

(Day 3): Cape Town – Perched Between Table Mountain and the Ocean

The next day will be a relaxed travel day. Take breakfast at your leisure then transfer to O.R. Tambo International Airport for a brief flight to Cape Town. When you touch down, Table Mountain will loom large, a majestic work of nature that stands over everything in the city. Then, you will be transferred to the five-star luxury of The Cape Grace, an iconic hotel at the V & A Waterfront. So much will be accessible within walking distance from here, including many excellent restaurants and bars. Today will be free so you can discover the Cape Town highlights that most interest you, perhaps a cable car ride up Table Mountain.

The new art museum, Zeitz MOCAA, is highly recommended and just a few steps from your hotel. Through permanent and changing galleries, this pre-eminent museum creates an African narrative on definitions of contemporary art, challenging Western dictation of artistic boundaries. There’s a powerful message here, one that takes Mandela’s legacy to a new level, which shows that to be equal also means to influence and define all those spheres that have traditionally been dominated by white Western narrative. Other ideas for this free day include a sunset cruise from the harbor or wine tasting in Constantia on Table Mountain’s back slopes.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

(Day 4): Cape Town – Prisoner and Negotiator: Exploring Robben Island and Groote Schuur

This morning, the wind will rustle through the trees as it coasts in off the Atlantic Ocean. A stark building stands before you, unapologetic of its austere state. When you step inside, footsteps will echo as you walk through the prison. As you step into the cell and the door closes, you will notice how the room is only big enough for a single bed and a bucket to use as a toilet. This lonely, frighteningly cramped cell is where Mandela spent 18 years of his incarceration. At one point he was allowed one visitor a year, for a maximum of 30 minutes. Your guide, Christo Brand, knows this place very well since he was Mandela’s former prison guard. He arrived as a fresh-faced 18-year-old racist but gradually changed his views as a friendship with Mandela grew, which lead to Brand smuggling items and messages in for his prisoner.

With Brand as your guide you will have a fascinating insight into these long years of Mandela’s life, particularly how his down to earth, courteous demeanor was extended to his enemies. When you return to the mainland, you will visit Groote Schuur, a vast manor house that sits beneath the rugged point of Devil’s Peak. Ornate walls mix with teak woodwork and colonnaded verandahs in this presidential home. However, Mandela did not live here. Instead, Groote Schuur housed the leaders of an old political landscape from Cecil Rhodes to FW de Klerk. Although, it was here that Mandela negotiated a resolution that changed the South Africa’s history, which enabled peaceful negotiations that would lead the country out of apartheid and into the democratic era.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour with Christo Brand, breakfast

(Day 5): Cape Town – The Urban Legacy: Cape Town’s Racially Charged Past and Buoyant Present

Murals are scattered across walls in District Six that depict faded images of Madiba and people torn from their homes. Small, almost crumbling, townhouses juxtapose with gentrified cafes and a bright pink bakery. This is District Six, another area at the frontier of apartheid and struggle where 60,000 people were forcibly removed and their homes were bulldozed. Their story is told in image and film at the District Six Museum and it’s a story that continues into today. District Six a colorful place to explore changing Cape Town. Yusuf Voterson will be your guide, a former District Six resident who lived through eviction and relocation. His stories illuminate a sense of old community as you explore the new community that’s evolved, particularly city life, in a post-apartheid context.

Stop at the Jewish Museum and Holocaust Center as you cross the city to another colorful, racially-defined neighborhood, Bo Kaap. Brightly colored houses paint a wonderful postcard here, yet they fail to obscure the area’s past as a home for slaves. Walk the cobbled streets, soak up the Cape Malay heritage, and gain a contrasting sense of how the city is changing. Then, you will complete your day in Paarl. Rugged mountains provide the backdrop to Drakenstein Prison, where Mandela took his final steps to freedom. It was here where the world’s media followed the man as walked free after 27 years, on 11th February 1990. Mandela built a house in his home village of Qunu after his release, which was an exact replicate of the cottage he stayed in at Drakenstein Prison.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour with Yusuf Voterson, breakfast

(Day 6): Waterberg -  Freedom: Big-Game Safari at Mandela’s Former Private Residence

From the time of rebellion and revolution to an era of reconciliation, today you will complete the journey through South Africa in the Waterberg bushveld. Elephants dot the horizon, sonorous lion roars occupy the night, and in the middle of it all is Nelson Mandela’s former private residence. As president of the republic, it was here that Madiba entertained visiting politicians and celebrities like Oprah. You’ll recognize a tranquility similar to The Saxon, along with a sense of space that enables free thoughts to thrive. The property has now become Shambala Private Game Lodge but the legacy lives on, particularly in the Nelson Mandela Center for Reconciliation.

You will first fly Cape Town to Johannesburg then travel north by road. Check into your hotel and check out the wildlife, as an afternoon game drive will bring you the first impressions of savannah life. Elephants greet you with twisted trunks, lions watch you pass with one eye open, springbok jump enthusiastically across the plains, and wherever there is water you look for hippos. While the reserve is home to the iconic Big Five there’s so much more to the safari experience as you will be completely surrounded by the rhythm of the wild. Nature sings a lullaby, animals are silhouetted beneath the moonlight, and you dine under the stars.

What’s Included: accommodation at Shambala Game Lodge, transfers, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

(Day 7): Waterberg – Future: Mandela Center for Reconciliation and More Big-Game Safari

Dawn is the best time to be on safari as the animals are most active before the sun rises high. Buffalo will huff and hiss as you pass while eagles soar overhead. Throughout the game drive you will learn to distinguish kudu, eland and other African antelope. The safari program is flexible and can be adapted to your interests. Game drives bring you eye to eye with the four-legged giants while bush walks provide a more intimate perspective on the land. Boat cruises are all about surprise as they bring you alongside animals on the riverbank.

However, safari isn’t just an activity, it’s an immersion. You will enjoy a breakfast picnic in the bush while a procession of life safely wanders nearby. Then, find a private place of contemplation, deep in the bush, perhaps with rhinos that cross the landscape below. Feel the energizing quality of this wild land, how it would have impacted Mandela during his time as president. Ultimately, you will feel the magic of Africa and the land that Madiba has helped to preserve. In the hot middle part of the day you will likely be in the Nelson Mandela Center for Reconciliation, where photos and thoughtful exhibits complete your journey through his life.

What’s Included: accommodation at Shambala Game Lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

(Day 8): Johannesburg – Departure

From troublemaker to modern South Africa’s founding father and favorite son, you will have made your own tribute to the man who changed the world. When you transfer back to Johannesburg and fly back home you’ll be planning how to take Mandela’s work and beliefs into your own life.

What’s Included: airport transfer, safari, breakfast

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!