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rich in history

Visual Research Programme – South Africa & Zimbabwe (12 Days)

Visual Research Programme – South Africa & Zimbabwe (12 Days)

$ 2595 / per person
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SOUTH AFRICA & ZIMBABWE – RICH IN HISTORY
Rock Art, Iron Age & Stone Age sites

 

12 days / 11 nights
Pricing available upon request
Valid January – December 2021

 

It is believed that the key-elements of the transitions of the Zimbabwe culture , class distinction and sacred leadership chrystalised on the Mapungubwe Hill and K2, long before they emerged anywhere else.  On this premise, your tour transcends accordingly, from South Africa’s Mapungubwe into the belly of Great Zimbabwe where the Zimbabwean culture was expressed.

 

A landmark sculptured both by nature and man, Zimbabwe displays not only the magnitude of its people but also the marvels of nature. The Khami Ruins, which developed after the capital of Great Zimbabwe had been abandoned in the mid-16th century, is of great archaeological interest. The discovery of objects from Europe and China also shows that Khami formed part of the major trade routes of old.

 

Zimbabwe’s natural wonders form part of some of the most impressive natural sites of the world, of course including the Vic Falls, but then also the less known, such as the Matopo Hills.  A mass of granite hills formed by river erosion and weathered into fantastic shapes and deep valleys, the hills are associated with folklore and tradition, some being venerated as dwelling places of the spirits of departed Ndebele chiefs. The hills contain gigantic caves (notably Bambata, Nswatugi, and Silozwane) with Khoekhoe paintings, Stone and Iron Age archaeological sites. The name may have originated from Matombe or Madombe, meaning “the rocks,” or from Matobobald heads”.

 

INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE

  • 11 Nights’ accommodation, sharing 2, 4 or 6 persons per unit.
  • Daily breakfasts or breakfast packs.
  • Daily lunches or lunch packs and dinners.
  • Coach or overland vehicles for all scheduled travel and transfers.
  • All entrances to museums, monuments, cultural and heritage sites as included in the programme.
  • Experienced field guide / tour leader to lead the trip.
  • Recreational and safari activities as indicated in the itinerary.

 

NOTES ON ACADEMIC ACCREDITATION

 

It is important to note that neither Mr Sidney Miller (the Tour Leader and Archaeologist / Field Specialist) nor Safari Odyssey (the Tour Organizer) are an accredited academic institution.  Our role is to provide a structured research / travel programme which provides access to South and southern African archaeological sites, without intervention, but under qualified supervision within the rules set out in our National Heritage Act, Act 25 of 1999. This product enables either the “student” or “tourist” to, at first hand, experience the specific cultural and historical event/s that is of interest to him or her.  For research purposes, the course content, structure and field of study or interest can be discussed and collectively decided upon.

 

OVERVIEW OF YOUR TOUR LEADER, MR SIDNEY MILLER
** Archaeologist, Conservationist and Civil Engineer

 

Sidney first studied Civil Engineering and worked as such for six years.  An interest in the Arts, and specifically in Archaeology, led to a career change in 1986 when he joined the Schoemansdal Museum development team, and in that time completed a Master’s Degree in Conservation of Architecture. After spending four years on the Thulamela Project in the Kruger National Park he became self-employed. Since then he focused on the development of Heritage sites, Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation of Architecture. He devoted much time in contributing back into a variety of communities the years of experience in the Heritage environment through formal and informal lecturing.  In a short overview of Sidney’s experience, the following should be mentioned:

 

On-site archaeological experience in excavation work / surveying of archaeological site maps / rock art / architecture conservation work / Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Impact Assessment work / publications / reports / dissertations / exhibitions / general heritage surveying for private farm owners / presentation of tours and courses / museum work.

Tour Plan

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Day 1: Johannesburg & The University of the Witwatersrand (WITS)

Group participants will be met upon arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport and transferred to your Sandton-based hotel. After a quick refresher the group will meet at a private venue within the hotel for purposes of familiarization around the 11 day /10 night tour programme. Following the briefing enjoy lunch at the hotel and then depart on your first outing into the bustling and ever-changing city of Johannesburg. Your afternoon will be spent on a tour of ancient African history, starting with a visit to the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), Archaeological Department. Enjoy a presentation by a WITS researcher and enjoy an insight into the Evolutionary Studies Institute, the Rock Art Research Institute and finally a tour through the WITS Origins Centre. Time permitting, the group can participate in an ochre painting experience. Enjoy your first evening at a culturally modern restaurant and indulge in your first taste of African cuisine and music.  
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Days 2 & 3: Johannesburg to the Waterberg, Limpopo

Late morning road transfer to the Waterberg, in the Limpopo River Valley.  This part of the country-side holds within it an incredibly rich Northern Sotho heritage and an impressive collection of arts and artefacts.  Your destination is the Goudrivier Game Lodge where the next two days will be spent investigating the rock art sites of Goudrivier - one of the few “congregation” sites in Southern Africa that is smaller but on the same scale as Twyfelfontein (Namibia) and Tsodilo Hills (Botswana). In addition to its celebrated hunter-gatherer rock art made by the San (or Bushmen), southern Africa has a number of later rock art traditions made by Bantu-speaking farmers. The most extensive of these traditions in terms of area covered and number of sites is the rock art of the Northern Sotho. This art is found spread across the greater part of northern South Africa. Northern Sotho rock art is easily distinguished from San rock art both by its colour and by its form. It is predominantly executed in white and was applied thickly onto the rock by finger (in contrast to the polychrome brushwork paintings of the San. The choice of white as the dominant colour is characteristic of rock art traditions belonging to Bantu-speaking agriculturists. Reflecting this, these arts have become colloquially known as the 'late whites'. The afternoons allow for sundowner game drives in the scenically beautiful environment of the Waterberg mountains, with a prolific amount of fauna, wildlife and birds.  Enjoy a bush braai (barbeque) for dinner at days end.
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Days 4 & 5: Waterberg to the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

An early morning camp fire breakfast is followed by your transfer to the Mapungubwe National Park and straight onto a visit to Mapungubwe Hill, home to the most famous Golden Rhino.  The ancient city of Mapungubwe (meaning 'hill of the jackal') is an Iron Age archaeological site in the Limpopo Province on the border between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.  The first people in Mapungubwe were early Iron Age Settlers. They lived there from about 1000 AD to 1300 A. While visiting this park you will spend time exploring both the Mapungubwe Hill as well as Mapungubwe’s K2 Site while late afternoons include game viewing activities and a sunset drive to view the confluence of the Shasi and Limpopo Rivers - the meeting place of 3 countries, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe - great at sunset.  Dinners will be under the African skies around an open braai (barbeque).   Extract from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Listing for the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape:   Mapungubwe is set hard against the northern border of South Africa, joining Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is an open, expansive savannah landscape at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers. Mapungubwe developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned in the 14th century. What survives are the almost untouched remains of the palace sites and also the entire settlement area dependent upon them, as well as two earlier capital sites, the whole presenting an unrivalled picture of the development of social and political structures over some 400 years.
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Days 6, 7 & 8: Mapungubwe National Park to Matabo Hills, Zimbabwe (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Today starts with an early morning road transfer to the Matapos National Park in Zimbabwe.  By the time the Park is entered one is surrounded by dramatic and enveloping scenery that is unique with extraordinary rock landforms.  These large boulders provide natural shelters, occupied by humans from the early Stone Age right through to early historical times, and seemingly ever since. They also feature an outstanding collection of rock paintings.   Spend some time at the Matapos Rock Art sites and Rhodes’s Grave during your first day in Zimbabwe.  There are over 3,000 known San rock art sites including Nswatugi Cave, White Rhino Shelter and the nearby Bambata Cave.  With numerous cultural and historical sites either within, or surrounding the National Park, the Matobo Hills is still an area of great cultural significance for many local people, and is used as a shrine and sacred place, closely linked to traditional, social and economic activities.   You will also spend time exploring the Khami Ruins - one of southern Africa's magnificent Late Iron Age sites (now a Unesco World Heritage Site).  Khami, which developed after the capital of Great Zimbabwe had been abandoned in the mid-16th century, is of great archaeological interest with particular reference to the fact that Khami was a major long-distance trading centre having established historic trade links with the Portuguese, and the wider world.  The diverse range of imported artefacts provide evidence of 15th and 17th century Spanish porcelain, Rhineland stoneware and Ming porcelain, many of which are on display in the Museum of Natural History in Bulawayo. There is also a monumental granite cross which illustrates the contact with missionaries at a traditionally revered and sacred spiritual site.  Upon return to the lodge each day, you will enjoy some time to refresh and a wonderful dinner experience under the Zimbabwean skies.  Extract from UNESCO World Heritage Site Listing on Matabo Hills:  The area exhibits a profusion of distinctive rock landforms rising above the granite shield that covers much of Zimbabwe. The large boulders provide abundant natural shelters and have been associated with human occupation from the early Stone Age right through to early historical times, and intermittently since. They also feature an outstanding collection of rock paintings. The Matobo Hills continue to provide a strong focus for the local community, which still uses shrines and sacred places closely linked to traditional, social and economic activities.  Extract from UNESCO World Heritage Site Listing for Khami Ruins National Monument: Khami, which developed after the capital of Great Zimbabwe had been abandoned in the mid-16th century, is of great archaeological interest. The discovery of objects from Europe and China shows that Khami was a major centre for trade over a long period of time.      
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Day 9: Matapos National Park to Pafuri Rivercamp

Breakfast is followed by a relaxing and scenic journey from Zimbabwe to Pafuri Rivercamp back in South Africa.  Along the way you will stop by the Segole Spa Big Tree - the biggest baobab tree in the world, carbon dated as 1 200 years of age. The Sagole Baobab is the largest overall, standing 22 metres high with a crown diameter of 38,2 metres. Arrive in time to view the stars of the cleanest skies in the country and enjoy traditional safari camp cooking for dinner.  
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Day 10: Pafuri Rivercamp via Thulamela to Punda Maria (Kruger National Park)

Breakfast, and depart to the Thulamela Archaeological Site within the Kruger National Park. Thulamela, at 500 years old, is one of the primary heritage sites of South Africa, and the link between Great Zimbabwe and the modern Vha Venda Nation, while the Kruger National Park is home to the big 5. Amazing bird life, lovely trees and a time to reflect on what nature has to offer.  Punda Maria Rest Camp is the choice camp to overnight at and to get leisure time.   .
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Day 11: Punda Maria to Letaba (Kruger National Park)

Breakfast followed by a full day game drive starting upon departure from Punda Maria and ending at the Letaba Rest Camp – this is a long slow game drive, pay attention and take in the sites, sounds and smells of all the Kruger has to offer – large and small game, insects, birds, rivers, plants and trees so unique to Africa, that only once you have passed through this natural habitat will your travels to Africa be truly complete. Afternoon at leisure and participate in available activities of your choice. Recommended is a visit to the Elephant Hall to view the Tuskers Project Dinner: Group farewell boma “braai” barbeque at the Letaba Rest Camp.
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Day 12: Letaba to Johannesburg

Breakfast and an early morning start at the Letaba Restaurant.  Return journey from the Kruger National Park to OR Tambo International Airport for your onward flight back home. Time permitting, a stop in Dullstroom for a final meal together! Dullstroom is a favourite weekend getaway for trout fisherman

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