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reflections on a unique environment

Visual Research Programme – South Africa

Visual Research Programme – South Africa

$ 1915 / per person
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SOUTH AFRICA – REFLECTIONS ON A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT
Rock Art, Iron Age & Stone Age sites

 

11 days / 10 nights
Pricing available upon request
Valid January – December 2021

 

Africa holds dear the story of life through the ages. It is displayed and described through the time-line of the existence, endurance and adaptation of her people to her landscape, plants, animals and ultimately her spirit. Of people and cultures there are many, but, of a deep-rooted history there is only one, and that tells the story of life, the African Way.

 

If we seek and explore, there is a living tale of life that is scattered across our continent, rich in cultures, tradition, linguistics, music, dance and story-telling, colour in art, dress and homestead design, jewellery, trade, food and of course, landscape and wildlife. It is this variety in resources that has led to the creation of a fundamental culture – integral to the fabric of our being – it has shaped many facets of African life and has formed an understanding of the world around us. It is unique to where we are, but it is open to those who want to see and experience.

 

INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE

  • 10 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

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 visiting either The Apartheid Museum OR Museum Africa in Newtown.  Enjoy your first evening at a culturally modern restaurant and indulge in your first taste of African cuisine and music.
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Day 2: Cradle of Humankind (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

After breakfast depart on a full day 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.  The afternoon is spent at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.  Start with a visit to the Maropeng Visitor Centre and then onto the Sterkfontein Caves and surrounds, such as Swartkrans.  The University of the Witwatersrand is involved with research and excavation at these two particular sites.  Transfer to the Lesedi Cultural Village for an overnight stay and entertainment in an authentic cultural village.  Extract from the UNESCO World Heritage Site re Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa: The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension to the site inscribed in 1999, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. Makapan Valley, also in the site, features in its many archaeological caves traces of human occupation and evolution dating back some 3.3 million years. The area contains essential elements that define the origin and evolution of humanity. Fossils found there have enabled the identification of several specimens of early hominids, more particularly of Paranthropus, dating back between 4.5 million and 2.5 million years, as well as evidence of the domestication of fire 1.8 million to 1 million years ago.
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Day 3: Cradle of Humankind to Pretoria

Buffet breakfast will be served at the Lesedi Cultural Village, followed by a transfer to Pretoria where you will have the opportunity to visit the Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History and the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (home to some of the hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site), the Voortrekker Monument, The Paul Kruger House as well as the seat of Parliament – The Union Buildings.  For lunch your destination is a typically local restaurant at the “Wit Huis” (White House) which was the house of the wife of President Paul Kruger.  Transfer to a close-by guest house for a leisurely evening and dinner on-site.
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Day 4: Pretoria to the Waterberg, Limpopo

Breakfast, served in the gardens of the guest-house and then depart on a 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).
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Day 5: Vaalwater to Louis Trichardt

Breakfast and a visit the Goudrivier Rock Art Site, followed by an onward transfer to Louis Trichardt. Lecture on the South African war of 1899 to 1902 in the Soutpansberg area, by historian Charles Leach. Overnight at a guest lodge in Louis Trichardt and enjoy a great meal and good South African wine.
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Day 6: Mashamba Traditional Village and Schoemansdal

Breakfast followed by a visit to the traditional village of Mashamba where the practice of pottery making still takes place. Continue to the archaeological Schoemansdal Site and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring. Afternoon at leisure followed by another local dining experience.
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Day 7: Louis Trichardt 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.  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.  Decades long archaeological research at K2 and Mapungubwe have established that these sites represent a sequence of human settlement, subsistence farming and state development in this region between AD 1000 and AD 1300. The size, complexity and cultural content of the sites reflect the royal status of the inhabitants and the development of indigenous social structures and trade links via the east coast of Africa.  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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Day 8: Mapungubwe National Park to Pafuri Rivercamp

Breakfast around the camp fire and then a visit to Mapungubwe’s K2 Site.  During the 11th and 12th centuries AD, a royal African community ruled over the Mapungubwe farming complex from their capital at K2 in a picturesque valley nearby to the Mapungubwe Hill.  Current research shows that the kingdoms of K2 and Mapungubwe contributed to the current indigenous knowledge systems of the local communities in the region.   From Mapungubwe enjoy a 3 hour scenic drive to Pafuri Rivercamp.  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 9: Pafuri Rivecamp via Thulamela to Punda Maria (Kruger National Park)

Breakfast, and depart to the Thulamela Cultural 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 10: 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 11: 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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