Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipis cing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis theme natoque

Image Alt

The Karoo Dino Dig, October ’24

The Karoo Dino Dig, October ’24

$ 6995 / per person
(0 Reviews)

For the ultimate bragging rights, join our DINO DIG in South Africa’s Great Karoo and Eastern Cape as your next vacation.

DATES: 1 – 15th October 2024, 15 Days & 14 Nights

HIGHLIGHTS: The WITS fossil vault, world-renowned researchers as your hosts, fossil excavations & presentations, safaris, cuisine, wines & Cape Town!

STARTING PRICE: USD 6995 per person sharing

The Great Karoo - A Palaeo Playground

Over 200 million years ago, South Africa formed part of the southern outreaches of Pangaea, which was inhabited by diverse flora and fauna.  In only a few places, where conditions were conducive to their fossilisation, can palaeontologists catch a glimpse of these ancient ecosystems. The Karoo is one such place!


Because of the unique antiquity of its geological record, South Africa is the single country in the world which has:

  • the oldest evidence of life on Earth
  • the oldest multicellular animals
  • the most primitive land-living plants
  • the most distant ancestors of dinosaurs
  • the most complete record of the more than 80 million year ancestry of mammals
  • a remarkable record of human origins and of human achievements through the last four million years.

Many of these superlatives are centered on the rocks of the Karoo Basin which span a time period from the Late Carboniferous (300 million years ago) to the Early Jurassic (180 million years ago) and preserve a world class assemblage of fossils which document the early evolution of tortoises, dinosaurs and mammals.


During this time the environment changed from a landscape covered by glaciers, through an inland sea, progressively arid fluvial deposition, aeolian desert dunes, and culminating in vast outpouring of volcanic lava.


This is the only place in the world where such an extended record of early evolution of “reptilian” life is preserved in a single basin, and chronicles the most distant evolutionary ancestry of mammals in remarkable detail.

The area of the Karoo also includes evidence of two great planet-wide extinction events, the end-Permian (252 million years ago) and the end-Triassic (200 million years ago).


This itinerary is centered around the Karoo, an area renowned as the home of an extinct group of vertebrates known as therapsids or “mammal-like reptiles”. Therapsids provide researchers with a window into the evolutionary transition from reptiles into mammals.


Your participation in the excavation will help scientists in their quests to answer myriad questions, such as: Were the early mammal ancestors of the Karoo warm-blooded? What can the Karoo tell us about the reaction of terrestrial ecosystems to mass extinction events? How can the Karoo’s shifting ecological make-up shine a light on evolutionary tempo?

Ready to dig the fossils of the Great Karoo?

With the collaboration between Ancient Odysseys®, GENUS, Safari Odyssey and our selection of world-renowned Palaeo Researchers, embracing your inner Indiana Jones or Alan Grant
is well within your reach . . 

Ancient Odysseys
® (the force behind this particular tour) has searched the globe, working directly with researchers to offer you paleontology, archaeology and paleoanthropology digs
for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.  Each is a true scientific endeavor where you’ll be working on-site, right alongside professional researchers as the ultimate “citizen scientist.” 

The Researchers on Your Tour

Dr Julien Benoit

Julien Benoit, a senior researcher at the WITS Evolutionary Studies Institute, focusses on Paleobiology, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Biology.  His current project is ‘Pre-mammalian evolution of the central nervous system and sensory organs in Therapsida using computed tomography.

Prof Bruce Rubridge

Director of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Palaeosciences, Bruce specialises in vertebrate palaeontology, biostratigraphy, sedimentology, basin development and palaeo-environments. His main area of interest is the early therapsids (anomodonts, biarmosuchids, dinocephalians) as well as temnospondyl amphibians.

Prof Rob Gess

Dr Rob Gess is a palaeontologist (fossil researcher) and Research Associate of the Albany Museum. He is South Africa’s leading researcher on Devonian (420 – 359 million year old) ecosystems and Early Vertebrates (ancient fish and early four legged creatures).  The Late Devonian Waterloo Farm outside Grahamstown, continues to be his main focus of research.

Sites You will be Excavating

Prof Julien Benoit

Oviston Nature Reserve located in the Great Karoos’ Bethulie, has been yielding fossil bones since the 1970s.  Geological and Palaeontological accounts suggest that Oviston may be located on an important geological contact between the sediments of the Permian and Triassic periods.  The possible presence of an uninterrupted Permian to Triassic sequence may mean that a complete record of the most important event in life history is preserved here.

with Prof Bruce Rubridge

Sites in Graaf Reinet, Sites in Nieu Bethesda, Museums & Collections

with Prof Rob Gess

The Late Devonian Waterloo Farm lagerstätten (exceptional fossil site) outside Grahamstown, continues to be his main focus of research. His excavations at Waterloo Farm have revealed the most complete high latitude Famennian (latest Devonian) ecosystem in the world, including at least 20 taxa of Early Vertebrates representing most Devonian orders, the most complete Famennian flora in the world and both water and land living invertebrates.

Unforgettable Experiences

Cape Towns’ City, Bo-Kaap & Table Mountain

Cape Side Cars, The Cape Peninsula & Wine . . .

The V & A Waterfront, Shopping & Robben Island

Your Tour Hosts

  • Destination
  • Departure
    Johannesburg, OR Tambo International Airport

Tour Plan


DAY 1: Prof Jonah Choiniere & The WITS Evolutionary Studies Institute

DAY 1 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ marks your arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa and comes with a grand opening to the rest of your tour.  Our first visit is to the iconic Evolutionary Studies Institute at WITS University where you will meet Jonah Choiniere, Professor of Comparative Palaeobiology.  Currently Jonah is working on the evolution of basal sauropodomorphs as well as terrestrial Triassic-Jurassic boundary and he has also started to dabble in non-dinosaurian matters, although his expertise is directed toward dinosaurian evolution.

Read more . . .


DAYS 2, 3, 4 & 5: Dr Julien Benoit, Bethulie (fossil excavations)

DAY 2 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ sees an early morning start with a flight from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein as we head to the Great Karoo (sometimes referred to "a gigantic playground packed with millions of fossils"), and ultimately Bethulie, home to the Oviston Nature Reserve, known for yielding fossils since the 1970s.  Days 2 - 5 are filled with excavation activities across selected Oviston sites. You will be hosted by Dr Julien Benoit (senior researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand) who has been actively involved in research activities since the early 2010s.

Read more . . .


DAYS 6, 7 & 8: Prof Bruce Rubridge – Graaf Reinet & New Bethesda (fossil excavations and collections)

DAYS 6, 7 & 8 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ include the change from Bethulie to Graaf Reinet (both in the Karoo), where you will enjoy 2 days of walk-about arm waving adventures to very exciting sites together with Prof Bruce Rubridge.  These sites are in the Beaufort Group of the Karoo Supergoup which are internationally renowned for their wealth of fossils, particularly of therapsids.  This extinct group of animals are the forerunners of mammals, and the succession of therapsid fossils, from the Karoo chronicle - the distant evolution of mammals in remarkable detail.  

Read more . . .


DAYS 9 & 10: Amakhala Private Game Reserve in the Greater Addo area

DAY 9 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ and we are on our way into the African bush of the Addo, Eastern Cape, with no better way to highight your travels than in true safari styled simplicity.  Lunch is served upon arrival at the Bukela Game Lodge (5*), located in the Amakhala Game Reserve, while a late afternoon safari drive tracks into a "deep time" dinosaur fossil site followed by an evening of starlit skies and animals of nocturnal behaviour.


Read more . . .


DAYS 11 & 12: Two Days' Dig Experience with Prof Rob Gess, Waterloo Farm, Grahamstown

DAYS 11 & 12 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ include time spent with Dr. Rob Gess, South Africa's leading researcher on Devonian (420 – 359 million year old) ecosystems and Early Vertebrates (ancient fish and early four legged creatures). For the next two days, Dr. Gess will be our guide and paleontological lead.   

Read more . . .


DAY 13 - Iconic Cape Town - The Perfect Ending

DAY 13 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ starts with an early morning flight out of Port Elizabeth across the largest province of South Africa - the Cape Province - to our mother-city, Cape Town. Probably best known for her world-renowned landmark, Table Mountain, as well as rugged & historic coastlines, vineyard filled valleys and an infusion of cultures and sites, your travels around Cape Town will forever remain precious and unmatched.  

Read more . . .


DAY 14: Cape Peninsula Full Day Tour with Cape Side Car Adventures

DAY 14 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ holds a unique experience – a full day “Cape Peninsula” tour hosted by Cape Sidecar Adventures.  Your chauffeured tour takes place in vintage motorbike sidecars and includes; a cruise to the shipwrecks of Seal Island (an exciting ocean adventure, with the opportunity to view the seal colonies and their displayed antics along the way), a scenic drive along Cape Town's most famous drive-way, Chapmans Peak, for the most breath-taking Atlantic Ocean views along Africa’s west coast which ultimately leads to our first wine-tasting stop together with lunch at Cape Point Vineyard.  

Read more . . .


DAY 15: Last day - Cape Town to Johannesburg

DAY 15 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________


  • 14 Nights' accommodation as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All domestic flights (Johannesburg - Bloemfontein & Port Elizabeth - Cape Town - Johannesburg).
  • All road transfers as per the itinerary.
  • Presentations, private tours and excavation days with the relevant researchers & site permit holders.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinners as indicated.
  • Beverages as indicated.
  • Gratuities, service fees and tips.
  • Tools


  • Meals & beverages not mentioned.
  • Medical & travel insurances - please note that travel insurances are compulsory.
  • Items of a personal nature.
  • Rates are subject to change.
  • NB: All travel-related documents including visas, passports, passport validity, requirements for children travelling across borders, birth / unabridged birth certificates, vaccinations etc, covid-19 travel regulations etc. are solely the responsibility of the traveller.

Tour Location

Reviews Scores and Score Breakdown

Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue. Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies

Rating 0

Post a Comment


You don't have permission to register