Origins of Man, Palaeo-Anthropological Tour


DATES: Available upon request
PRICE: Based on a minimum of 4 persons, starting @ USD 7472 pps or USD 6550 single
PACKAGE: See details below
OPTIONAL ADD ON: Bushmans Kloof, 2 night & 3 days, starting @ USD 3567 pps or USD 1550 single

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* All accommodation
* Meals (except where indicated as for own account)
* Soft drinks
* Transport
* Internal flights
* Airport transfers
* Driver accommodation and meals
* Professional scholar fees
* Gratuities
* National Park and other entrance fees


The cost of the optional extension includes luxury accommodation, two game and rock art viewing activities per day with qualified archaeologists, all meals, gratuities and coach transfer from Cape Town and return to Cape Town International Airport.


* Items of a personal nature
* Travel Insurance
* Alcoholic beverages
* Laundry
* Personal telephone costs


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Johannesburg / Mount Grace Country House & Spa

Arrive Johannesburg International Airport in mid-afternoon. Transfer by luxury coach to the Mount Grace Country House & Spa situated approximately 80 kilometres west of Johannesburg. The Mount Grace is set in the Magaliesberg Mountains in 10 acres of exquisite gardens. This leading country house hotel has been a haven of tranquility and beauty for over 20 years. Accommodation is in the Mount Grace’s luxury thatched units, all with en suite bathroom facilities and beautiful outlooks.   Study tour leader, Grahame Thomson, will host an informal welcome dinner and give an introductory overview of the Origins of Man itinerary.


Sterkfontein Swartkrans World Heritage Site / De Wildt Endangered Species Breeding Centre / Mount Grace Country Hotel & Spa

Breakfast followed by an introductory presentation by Dr Ron Clarke of the Wits Palaeo-anthropology Unit on the Sterkfontein Caves.   Dr Clarke is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent palaeo-anthropologists and has become world renowned for his relentless search for the origins of man. Depart after breakfast for a site visit to the Sterkfontein Caves with Dr Clarke and Dr Kathy Kuman. Sterkfontein is approximately half an hour from the Mount Grace and is South Africa’s most important prehistoric anthropological site. It was discovered in 1936 by Dr Robert Broom, who found the first fossilized adult skull of the species Australopithecus africanus – Mrs Ples. This hominid roamed the plains of southern and eastern Africa approximately 2,5 – 3,5 million years ago. Since the palaeo-anthrolopology studies commenced in 1936, 575 hominid specimens have been discovered in the Sterkfontein environs. Fossils belonging to the species Homo habilis have also been found. A more recent find at Sterkfontein was the ‘Little Foot’ discovery, fossilized foot bones that document a significant stage in our ancestors’ shift to upright walking.

After completion of the site visit, a picnic lunch will be provided in the scenic foothills overlooking the Cradle of Humankind.

In the afternoon, visit the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre for a guided tour. Established in 1971, De Wildt has gained international recognition for bringing the cheetah back from the brink of extinction through its captive breeding programmes. This success has been unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Over the years, De Wildt has bred over 600 cheetah cubs and diversified its captive breeding programme to include other endangered species such the wild dog, brown hyaena, serval, suni antelope and the riverine rabbit. Where possible, these animals are released into the wild to repopulate areas where they have become locally extinct.

Dinner at Mount Grace.

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University of the Witwatersrand / Transvaal Museum or WITS Cultural Museum / Lesedi Cultural Village / Mount Grace Country House & Spa

After breakfast, travel to the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to view the famous Taung Child, Australopithecus africanus, and also the Rock Art Institute to review rock art paintings with Dr Benjamin Smith.

fter lunch, depart for the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria or WITS Cultural Museum where Dr Francis Thackeray will give a guided tour of the vaults of human history (including the ‘Broom Room’) where the ‘crown jewel’ of southern African fossils, including the internationally renowned Mrs Ples and eleven other Australopithecus africanus fossils, can be seen.

In the early evening, depart for the Lesedi Cultural Village where authentic cultural dwellings of the Zulu, Ndebele, Sotho, Pedi and Xhosa peoples can be visited and a display of their traditional singing and dancing enjoyed. The visit to Lesedi will incorporate a buffet dinner, which includes traditional dishes from around the African continent.

Return to the Mount Grace.


Makapansgat Lime Works / The Coach House Country Hotel

After breakfast, depart by luxury coach for the Makapansgat Lime Works (an approximately 3 hour drive) which are situated in the Limpopo province. The site owes its name to Chief Makapan who died there with the rest of his tribe following a siege by Boers. The Makapansgat Cave’s history as it relates to human origins dates back some 3 million years to a time when Australopithecus africanus roamed southern Africa. Numerous important fossils have been found since their initial discovery in 1947.   The visit will be led by Dr Kevin Kuykendal of the University of the Witwatersrand, who is directing the Makapansgat Palaeontology and Palaeo-anthropology project. His group is excavating the caves and surveying the valley to reconstruct the environment in which are ancestors lived.   A picnic lunch will be provided.

Mid to late afternoon, transfer by luxury coach to the 4-star Coach House Country Hotel situated just outside the picturesque town of Tzaneen. Set in beautiful gardens, this hotel has elegant rooms, each with its own verandah and spectacular view of the Drakensberg mountains. The hotel is renowned for its exceptional standards, superb cuisine and friendly, personalized service.


Silver Leaves Archaeological Site / Bongani Mountain Lodge

After breakfast at the Coach House on Tuesday, 6 June, depart by luxury coach for the Silver Leaves archaeological site. This site is on a farm at Agatha approximately 4 kms from the Coach House Hotel. Excavations have yielded fluted and bevelled pottery that had not been found south of the Limpopo River before. It is regarded as one of the first settlements in South Africa and dates back to AD 1900, pre-dating Mapungubwe by 900 years. The only other place where similar pottery has been found is in Kenya. Silver Leaves pottery is part of the Early Iron Age Urewe tradition and this pottery, together with metal slag and potsherds containing impressions of a domesticated Pennisetum grass, show that these early people were iron-working agriculturalists.

The Agatha area is full of old iron-making sites and important artefacts from this area, as well as Early Stone Age (500 000 years ago).

Mid morning, depart by luxury coach for Bongani Mountain Lodge which is situated in the Mthethemusha Game Reserve, located on the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park.

Bongani Mountain Lodge is operated by the internationally renowned safari company, Conservation Corporation Africa, and is located on the mountains overlooking the Kruger National Park. The lodge accommodates approximately 70 guests in traditionally styled thatched en-suite rondavels, all with air-conditioning and private balcony.   Facilities include a traditional Africa boma for evening meals, main restaurant and bar, curio shop and swimming pool. Game drives are undertaken in open 4x4 vehicles and walking trails are conducted by professional guides. Mthethemusha Game Reserve is home to Africa’s Big 5 game species, and there are good concentrations of white rhino, buffalo, eland, giraffe, zebra and leopard.

Arrival at Bongani Mountain Lodge is anticipated for late afternoon, and guests will be transported from the entrance to the lodge in open safari vehicles. Pre-dinner cocktails will be served on the Bongani Lodge verandah and thereafter a slide presentation and an informative lecture will be given by Grahame Thomson, specifically on the Kruger National Park and the Transfrontier Park concept. Dinner and overnight at Bongani Lodge.

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Bongani Mountain Lodge

Depart for early morning game drive in open 4x4 vehicle to explore the plains and valleys of Mthethemusha Game Reserve. A bush breakfast will be provided during the morning drive, and return to the lodge at 11.00 a.m. Lunch in the main restaurant and early afternoon at leisure. 

A mid-afternoon tea will be provided at 3.00 p.m. and thereafter depart on a walking trail with professional guide to track and view Big 5 game species. A specialized bush braai will be provided by the staff of Bongani at a magnificent vantage point overlooking the plains of the Kruger Park. Return to the Lodge and overnight.


Bongani Mountain Lodge / Kruger National Park

Breakfast will be served at 07h00 and thereafter transfer by 4x4 vehicle to the Bongani entrance gate. Safari Services, a professional wildlife guiding company, will then transport the group into the Kruger National Park, entering through the southern Malelane section.

The Kruger National Park was established in 1898 and is one of the most highly acclaimed national parks in the world. It covers very nearly 20 000km² and stretches for 350 kilometres from south to north along the Mozambican border to where South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe meet. Well known for its diversity of habitat and wildlife, Kruger offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience close encounters with elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard in a natural unfenced environment. Wild dog, cheetah, zebra, giraffe and a variety of other species are also indigenous to the Park. A paradise for the wildlife enthusiast with close to 150 mammals, over 380 species of indigenous trees, as well as over 500 bird species, the park is a birdwatcher’s haven.

The entire day will be spent exploring the southern sector of Kruger National Park which is particularly famous for its concentrations of plains game, white and black rhino, lion, elephant, sable antelope, buffalo etc. A picnic lunch will be provided at a suitable site.

Return to Bongani Lodge late afternoon for a traditional dinner served in the open boma.


The Courtyard Hotel, Port Elizabeth

After an early breakfast, travel by scheduled commercial flight from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport near Nelspruit to Johannesburg International Airport in order to board a commercial flight for Port Elizabeth. A light lunch will be served on the aircraft.   Dinner for own account at either the Oude Kelder Restaurant or a steakhouse within walking distance from the hotel. Overnight at the Courtyard Hotel in Port Elizabeth.

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Addo Elephant National Park / Courtyard Hotel

After breakfast, depart on a full day excursion to Addo Elephant National Park, one hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth.

The Addo Elephant National Park is tucked away in the dense valley bushveld of the Eastern Cape. Proclaimed in 1931, when the number of elephants had dwindled to only eleven, the Park now provides sanctuary to some 400 elephants, as well as buffalo, black rhino, lion, hyaena, plenty of birds and several species of antelope. The endemic flightless dung beetle is treasured and road signs implore visitors to yield to them.   Park expansion has resulted in Addo becoming the third largest park in South Africa where uniquely five of South Africa’s seven habitat biomes are represented. A picnic lunch will be enjoyed at one of the viewing sites. The Park is especially well-known for its amazingly calm elephants which makes elephant-viewing at Addo exceptionally good. Return to Port Elizabeth in the late afternoon.

Dinner for own account at one of the restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel. Overnight at the Courtyard Hotel.

DAY 10

Klasies Rivier / Belvidere Manor Hotel, Knysna

After breakfast, depart by air conditioned microbus for the Klasies Rivier archaeological site. The caves of the Klasies Rivier mouth, located on a spectacular coastal platform on the Tsitsikamma coastline, have yielded the earliest remains of modern humans known anywhere in the world. The tour will be conducted by Dr Hilary Deacon, professor of archaeology at the University of Stellenbosch and a specialist on the behaviour of early humans, who will precede the tour with a talk about the site. Lunch will be a picnic on the beautiful beach at Klasies Rivier mouth.

After lunch, travel by microbus along the Cape’s scenic Garden Route which includes Natures Valley, the Tsitsikamma Forest, Plettenberg Bay, Storms River and the charming coastal town of Knysna. Arrive at the Belvidere Manor Hotel in the late afternoon. Belvidere Manor was originally built in 1848 and is a proclaimed National Monument. The restored hotel offers 5-star luxury in individual Cape style cottages overlooking the Knysna lagoon. Dinner will be served in the hotel’s dining room.

DAY 11

Featherbed Nature Reserve / Belvidere Manor Hotel

After breakfast, board a paddle cruiser in Knysna for the half hour trip to Featherbed Nature Reserve on the western portion of the famous Knysna Heads. Pristine fynbos, coastal forests, magnificent views of the Lagoon and the coastline and ancient Khoi-Khoi caves can be experienced at Featherbed, as well as encounters with the endangered blue duiker, the rare Knysna seahorse and the spectacular Knysna Loerie. Featherbed Nature Reserve - a Natural Heritage Site - offers an unforgettable experience with a 4x4 trailer ride up the Western Head and an optional 2,2 km guided walk down into the forests, caves and along the seashore. This will be followed by a delicious buffet lunch under the Milkwood tree canopy before returning to Knysna in the paddle cruiser. 

The afternoon will be spent at leisure at the Knysna Waterfront, a short walking distance from the centre of the picturesque town of Knysna, for shopping and browsing.   Dinner for own account at The Bell pub restaurant in the grounds of the hotel. Overnight at the Belvidere Manor Hotel.

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DAY 12

V&A Waterfront / The Vineyard Hotel

After breakfast, travel from Knysna to Cape Town by airconditioned microbus, an approximately 4 hour drive. Arrive in Cape Town in time to check in and have lunch at the Vineyard Hotel. The afternoon will be spent at leisure at the V&A Waterfront, South Africa’s premier tourist attraction.

Dinner for own account at any one of a variety of restaurants at the V&A Waterfront. Return to The Vineyard.

DAY 13

Table Mountain / Cape Peninsular Tour / Fish Hoek / Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens / Constantia Uitsig / The Vineyard Hotel

After breakfast, travel by luxury coach to the base of Table Mountain for the ride by cable car to the top of the mountain. This will be followed by a tour of the Cape Peninsula. One of the world’s most spectacularly beautiful places, the Cape Peninsula is a stretch of rocky mountain jutting southward into the sea where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet, and is the southernmost point of the continent. It offers a myriad of pristine beaches, sheltered bays and coves, quaint fishing harbors and a rich array of extremely rare indigenous flora. Lunch at The Fish Hoek Galley, a small seafood bistro right on the beach at Fish Hoek serving excellent cuisine and wines, with spectacular views of seaside villages, bays, Simon’s Town naval harbour, and mountains, some of which actually cascade into the sea. After lunch, return to Cape Town to visit Kirstenbosch Gardens with its unrivalled collection of over 5000 species of indigenous plants from the unique Cape Floral Kingdom. 

Dinner will be at one of the restaurants at the Constantia Uitsig Hotel, which is set amongst the vineyards of a private wine estate in the shadow of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.   This highly acclaimed hotel is just twenty minutes from the city centre and Waterfront, and within easy reach of the historic winelands of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch. Encircled by age-old vineyards, the Constantia Uitsig Hotel is renowned for its atmosphere of quiet elegance and gracious hospitality, and its outstanding cuisine.

Overnight at The Vineyard

Day 14

South African Museum / Return USA
After breakfast, depart by microbus to the South African Museum for a private tour led by Dr Graham Avery. The museum houses fine exhibits of stone tools and artefacts of the San culture as well as San rock art, known as the Linton Panel.   After the lecture by Dr Graham Avery, depart for Cape Town International Airport to catch connecting flight to Johannesburg or direct to Atlanta.

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DAY 14

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve / Bushmans Kloof Lodge

In the late morning, after visiting the South African Museum, depart by microbus for Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve located in the Cederberg Mountains. The Reserve is the result of one of South Africa’s leading businessmen having bought thousands of hectares of land in order to return it to its original pristine state, and to reintroduce indigenous plants and animals that had previously been eradicated by farmers. The 5-star Bushmans Kloof Lodge consists of luxury thatched cottages in the Cape Dutch style of architecture. The reserve contains 130 sites of Africa’s most extraordinary San rock paintings, some dating back 10 000 years. In recognition of its rich cultural, historical and environmental significance, Bushmans Kloof has been declared a South African Natural Heritage Site. The afternoon will include a game drive in open 4x4 vhiecles and the exploration of some of the bushman rock art sites. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.

Day 15

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve / Bushmans Kloof Lodge

Further exploration of the numerous San/Bushman rock painting sites in the Reserve. Walks will be led by Dr John Parkington, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town, who is an authority on the paintings Dr Parkington’s particular interest lies in the stone age hunter/gatherers of Africa. He has excavated a number of caves and rock shelters in the Cape and has been centrally involved in the recording and interpretation of rock art. Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.

Day 16

Cape Town

Depart Bushmans Kloof after breakfast and return to Cape Town for international flights.


For further enquiries or bookings, please contact Lynne on:
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Cell: (+27) 60 389 4713