Upon arrival at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to the Saxon Hotel. A well-kept secret among the traveling cognoscenti, this boutique hotel is the epitome of elegance and sophistication. Set in the quiet suburb of Sandhurst, it is only a few minutes away from the bustling financial hub of Sandton. Apart from its impeccable service, fantastic cuisine and tranquil setting in lush tropical gardens, the Saxon is famous for being the place that Nelson Mandela chose to live while writing his autobiographical memoir, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.
Meet your guide, whose ability to regale you with vivid tales of South Africa’s turbulent history as seen through his eyes as a passionate citizen and entertaining raconteur will enhance your experiences of the places you are to visit.
Firstly, you head to Soweto, to Vilikazi Street, where Struggle luminaries such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela lived. Mandela’s former home has been transformed into a museum displaying artifacts, records and documents of this extraordinary man’s life. Further down the street, which is now lined with restaurants and stalls, stands a poignant reminder of the grim realities of the liberation struggle: a plaque commemorates Hector Peterson, a schoolboy killed by police during the 1976 student uprisings against an unfair educational system.
Next, you visit the Apartheid Museum. Set in 7 hectares of landscaped grounds, the exhibits take you through the narrative of Apartheid’s history through a series of film, sculptural and photographic installations. As you depart with a deeper understanding of the intricacies of this tremendous struggle against a fundamentally evil system and the people that formed a part of it, you move on to Liliesleaf Farm. This was the headquarters of the Congress Alliance, and the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). The events and activities here were crucial in sending South Africa down the path of liberation, as luminaries such as Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and Mandela carved out a vision for a new, democratic country. It became the scene of the infamous police raid in 1963 where Mandela and 17 of his colleagues were arrested before being sentenced to life imprisonment at the notorious Rivonia Trial.
Next, visit Constitution Hill, a city precinct anchored by the South African Constitutional Court. It is also the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, where thousands of ordinary people were brutally punished before the dawn of democracy. Many of South Africa’s political activists, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Walter Sisulu were detained here. What once was a place of injustice and brutality has been transformed into a place of solidarity and democracy. Wandering the precincts and halls of the court, you marvel at the incredible transformation that in a few short years has changed the course of South Africa’s history.
The final stop on the day’s tour is the Cradle of Humankind. Set amongst rolling countryside just outside of the city, this World Heritage Site is the scene of some of the most remarkable hominid discoveries. Displays depict the origin of our species and take you on a 4 million-year adventure through the mists of time.
Depart Johannesburg on a scheduled flight to Cape Town, where a representative from your comfortable hotel awaits you. Driving into the city, the first thing you notice is the bulk of Table Mountain, looming over the city nestled on its slopes. As you come over the hill, the Atlantic sweeps into view, with the docks of the waterfront crowding its shore. With this tremendous setting, you will no doubt agree with those who say that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Opened by Mandela in 1997, your hotel is centrally located in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a bustling working harbor and entertainment precinct lined with a variety of shops, restaurants and lively bars. Set between the yacht basin and the backdrop of Table Mountain, the hotel is the epitome of luxury and sophistication, placed in an ideal location to enjoy the many attractions of Cape Town.
Visit Robben Island, the Presidential Residence and Table MountainDepart for Robben Island from the ferry station in the Waterfront, and cruise out into the waters of Table Bay, bound for the notorious prison. Former inmates of the penitentiary are there to guide you through this World Heritage Site, and these are the last people with first-hand memories of life on the island. Listen to their tales, sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous and always edged with a gentle humanity that these prison walls could not take away from them. Visiting Nelson Mandela’s cell, where the great man spent 18 years and emerged without malice towards his captors, you will not fail to be moved by his enormous capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Returning to the city, you next visit the Presidential Residence in Rondebosch, which became the residence of Mr. Mandela after his inauguration as South Africa’s first black president. This graceful and elegant turn-of-the-century building stands in stark contrast to the grim prison cell you have just visited, and serves as an example of human achievement.
Round off the day of history by riding the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain. One of the oldest mountains in the world at 540 million years old, this iconic flat-topped mountain rears up 3,000 feet from the Atlantic Ocean at its feet and cradles the city in its bowl. A network of paths lead you to a series of lookout points to survey breathtaking views of the Twelve Apostles, the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, the adjacent Lions Head and the mountains of the wine lands in the distance.
Bo-Kaap is a small district on the slopes of Signal Hill. Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, where the descendants of slaves brought here by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries still live, this vibrant and colorful area is home to a thriving Muslim community. Wandering the cobbled streets, you meet the locals as they sit on their porches, and take in the wonderfully quaint alleyways, lined with homes painted in a vivid assortment of colors. A short walk down the hill leads you past a popular African restaurant, past the thriving bars, eateries and coffee shops of Long Street, through the tranquil Company Gardens, and on to the District Six Museum.
In 1867 District Six was established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants, a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. In 1966 it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were bulldozed. The District Six Museum, established in 1994, works with the memories of these experiences and with the history of forced removals in general to provide a platform for the voices of a lost community.
Day 6 - 7
Depart Cape Town and fly back to Johannesburg. A guide will meet you at the airport and take you on a scenic drive northwards to the Waterberg mountains. A region of diverse ecotones and habitat, the area supports a great variety of birds and mammals, including the Big Five. Shambala Private Game Reserve is a haven of tranquility set in an African paradise, and a fitting location for the Nelson Mandela Reconciliation Centre, where Mandela hosted leaders and dignitaries from around the world.
Your seven-room camp sits at its center, and is the epitome of a luxury safari lodge, nestled in the embrace of the wilds, but with no detail spared when it comes to comfort and modern amenities.
Here you can enjoy up-close and personal wildlife experiences as you encounter herds of elephant silently moving through the bush to a waterhole, see giraffe peering curiously down at you from behind the trees, and experience the heart-stopping thrill of seeing a pride of lions hunting in the twilight. Enjoy a picnic out in the wilds, savor a sunset cocktail from a scenic viewpoint, and indulge in delicious cuisine in the evenings. Sit out at the fireplace with a nightcap admiring the Milky Way, while the sounds of the African night reverberate around you.
Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
Depart the oasis of Shambala and drive back to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport for the flight home. As the countryside rolls past you, reminisce on the experiences you have had in this wonderful country. The history and the turmoil, the grace and the reconciliation, all bound up in the rich tapestry of South Africa’s colorful past, set against a backdrop of incredible natural beauty.
There are few individuals whose life inspires global change for a better world. In memory of Nelson Mandela, we're introducing a journey that follows in his footsteps and reflects on his legacy. The year 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of Mandela's sentence to life imprisonment and the 20th anniversary of Mandela becoming the first black South African president.
“Nelson Mandela’s life is a story of the triumph of the human spirit,” said Brian Tan, CEO of Zicasso. “To be sentenced to life imprisonment and then emerge 30 years later to become the president, after 27 years in prison, is one of the greatest inspirational stories. Our goal of this unique tour is to give travelers an immersion into his story of sheer will, clarity of purpose, and compassion while getting to know the beauty of South Africa.”
The journey begins in Johannesburg, a vibrant and busy city that is the economic powerhouse of South Africa, and also the scene of some of the country’s darkest political moments. You will stay at the refined and exclusive Saxon Hotel in the leafy suburb of Sandhurst, famous for being where Nelson Mandela chose to live while writing his remarkable autobiography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.
A master storyteller who won a “Tour Guide of the Year” award, our private guide will take you on tours of the city. Begin by visiting Mandela’s home in the ‘Struggle’ years in Soweto, as well as the haunting and evocative Apartheid Museum. After Soweto, you visit Liliesleaf Farm, where Umkhonto we Sizwe (meaning “Spear of the Nation”) the military wing of the ANC, and the Congress Alliance were headquartered prior to the infamous government raid where Mandela was arrested in 1963. Along with the interactive displays and engaging tales from your guide, you will gain fascinating insights into the early days of the liberation movement, and the key players within it. Follow up with a visit to the Constitutional Court, seat of the nation’s democratic heritage, and a witness to more than a century of turbulent history, from the British and Boer conflicts to the birth of a new and modern democracy.
Note: During your time in Johannesburg, a meeting might possibly be arranged with a member of the Mandela family for meaningful first-hand accounts and discussion, depending on schedule and availability.
Your guide will also bring you to the outskirts of the city, to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. This is where some of the most remarkable paleo anthropological fossils have been discovered in recent years, giving you a window into the deepest reaches of our human past.
Next, you jet off to Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest and most beautiful city. The Table Bay Hotel is situated in the bustling port of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, with the iconic bulk of Table Mountain looming over it as a backdrop.
From here you take a ferry to the infamous Robben Island, the penitentiary where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his imprisonment. Now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it serves as a poignant reminder of the price South Africa paid for its freedom. The curators are former inmates of the prison, and you tour the site with them, learning at first hand how life was during the years of the Apartheid regime. Spend a moment of quiet reflection in Mandela’s cell, and imagine the mind of a man who could forgive his oppressors after almost two decades within those walls.
Returning to the city, you then visit the Presidential Residence at Groote Schuur- a magnificent historical building that stands in vivid contrast to Mandela’s prison cell, and where he resided after being elected President of South Africa in 1994.
Round off your day by taking the cableway to the top of Table Mountain, 3000ft above sea level, with tremendous views of the city, mountains and ocean at your feet.
The following day, take a walking tour through the ancient Bo-Kaap district, a colorful, cobblestoned warren of quirky homes and mosques that was previously known as the Malay Quarter. Next, visit the District Six Museum in the city, where the history of the Malay Quarter and District Six are interactively presented to give you an insight into the turbulent past of the communities who resided in these vibrant multicultural areas before being forcibly evicted in the 1960s by the Apartheid regime.
After a day of history, reminiscences and anecdotes, your guide will select one of Cape Town’s wonderful restaurants to enjoy your last evening soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of the city and indulging in the finest wines and cuisine.
Return northwards to the Waterberg, where the African wildlife paradise of Shambala Private Game Reserve is located. This picturesque reserve nestles in a mountain range that is home to the famous Big Five: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. It is fitting that Nelson Mandela chose this location to inaugurate the Centre for Reconciliation, surrounded by the peace and tranquility of the African wilderness.
$3,995 per person (excluding international flights)
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.