Cape Town, South Africa: Culture, History and Stunning Natural Beauty
January 28 - February 3, 2019
Optional Private Game Reserve Extension February 3 - February 6, 2019
Cape Town Week
$3990 per person, with no single supplement
Optional Extension to Motswari Game Reserve
$2245, based on sharing a room
Politics & Prose invites you to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Cape Town, South Africa, often called one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
We’ll explore the natural beauty of Cape Town – a cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain, a drive out to Cape Point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, a stroll through the penguin colony at Boulders Park, the lush city center Company’s Gardens bordered by the Houses of Parliament.
And we’ll take a candid look at South Africa’s modern history: a boat trip out to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years, a visit to inspiring diverse community projects in the townships – a legacy of apartheid, but where much change is taking place.
Explore Cape Town's Rich History, Natural Beauty and Modern Culture
Named Number One Food City in the World by Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards
Cape Town is a city with a centuries-old history, dating from the Dutch sailing ships in the 1600s. But South Africa is also a new country, its democracy and full rights for people of all races less than 30 years old. We’ve found South Africans extremely friendly and willing to talk openly with us about their family histories and experiences during and after apartheid.
Today, Cape Town is an international city offering modern culture and a great foodie scene for every taste and budget.
Experience the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, Adjacent Kruger National Park
One of Africa’s Foremost Wildlife Safari Destinations
This six-day trip is followed by an optional three-day stay in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, which has an unfenced border with Kruger National Park. We expect to see the usual South African species – elephant, leopard, rhino, giraffe, zebra, hippos, lion, hyenas and so on – possibly including (because of the time of year) many recently-born baby animals.
Clearly, South Africa is a country that is undergoing enormous change. People who experienced apartheid are still living and working in South Africa, and the country encourages open discussion of race and its racial issues. Cape Town is a modern city with a disturbing past, still clearly remembered, and its future has yet to be truly determined.
As usual with our trips, each evening we’ll gather before dinner to talk about our day – and to discuss books about South Africa, which has produced many acclaimed authors. Afterwards, we’ll break into small groups for dinner, depending on your tastes. No one will ever dine alone – unless you’re looking for solitude.
Why South Africa Now?
Our trip begins in January, where it is summer in South Africa. It’s a great time to trade snow and ice for warmth and sunshine. And South Africa – despite its recent political issues – continues to be a force for democracy on the continent.
About the Drought in Cape Town
You have no doubt read that Cape Town is in the midst of a serious water shortage. It seems to be improving slightly, but certainly serious water conservation will be important there for years. South Africa, however, needs and depends on tourism, and they ask that visitors please still come. You’ll be asked to take a shorter shower, and they won’t change your towels every day, but in general the visitor experience is not hampered by the water shortage.
Why South Africa with Politics & Prose?
Traveling with Politics & Prose, you’ll spend time with like-minded, well-informed people who are curious about South Africa’s history, culture and literature. We’ve provided suggested reading (definitely not required), and the travel itself is enhanced by the other people on the trip.
Here’s what previous travelers were on the last P&P trip to South Africa said:
“It was life-changing.”
“Exceptional, memorable, meaningful and full of heart.”
“A trip of a lifetime.”
Group size is limited, so you’ll spend many days with South African drivers/guides who are more interested in engaging conversation with you than in giving lectures.
This trip is especially designed for Politics & Prose – for people who love their independence but also appreciate some support along the way. We always have at least two trip leaders, so – although there are organized activities every day – you’ll have the freedom to follow your own interests as well.
And there’s no single supplement for your accommodations in Cape Town.
Unless you want to share a room, you need not.
About Flying to South Africa
Yes, it’s a lot of flying, but everyone who goes says it’s worth it. If you’re flying from Washington, you can get a direct flight to Johannesburg, and connect there for the relatively short flight to Cape Town. If you’d like to make it ever easier, you can fly direct to London, arriving in the early morning. Book a “day room” in an airport hotel where you can get breakfast, nap and shower, and then catch a late afternoon flight on to Cape Town. You’ll arrive refreshed and already adjusted to the time change.
Please note that some changes may be made to the final itinerary due to weather, museum closings or other unforeseen events.
Sunday, January 27
Depart on your flight from home. (Note: if you decide to fly through London, you’ll depart on Saturday, January 26.)
Monday, January 28
Arrive in late afternoon or evening at the SunSquare Hotel in the Gardens section of Cape Town. Our trip leaders will greet you and get you settled in.
Tuesday, January 29
We all get to sleep in this morning to rest up from our flights. If you’re up and ready to go, you can walk over to the Jewish Museum in our neighborhood. Located in a restored synagogue and an imaginatively dramatic new building, it tells the story of Jewish history in Cape Town, from the early days to the Jewish alliance with Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid. (Note, you must present a photo ID at the entrance.)
We’ll walk over to the Mount Nelson, Cape Town’s historic grand old hotel, for high tea (included). Don’t forget to stroll through the sculpture garden there as well. Winston Churchill stayed here when he was a war correspondent during the Second Boer War.
We’re picked up at the Mount Nelson for the short drive to Table Mountain and our dramatic cable car ride to the top. There we’ll have spectacular views of the city and the ocean. We’ll be on the lookout for “dassies,” too – rock hyrax, small furry animals that inhabit the stone crevices at the top of the mountain. It will be chilly atop the mountain, so bring a jacket.
We meet for wine and conversation in our introduction to Cape Town before dinner.
Wednesday, January 30
We’ll spend today enjoying the natural beauty surrounding Cape Town. We begin with an utterly scenic drive over Chapman’s Peak high above the ocean shoreline. Our first stop will be the African penguin breeding colony at Boulders Beach, where we can watch the birds frolic in the waves.
After lunch (included today), we’ll continue on to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. We’ll be within the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site, and the most southerly point within the Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park. It has one of the world’s richest varieties of plants -- and is home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora. We sometimes see ostrich and Chacma baboons along the road.
It’s then on to the craggy cliffs, rocky escarpments and fynbos-rich slopes of the narrow finger of land known as Cape Point, where we’ll take a funicular up to the lighthouse at the top.
We meet at the hotel for wine, book talk and conversation before dinner.
Thursday, January 31
We drive to the Victoria & Albert Waterfront to depart on our boat to Robben Island -- the infamous bleak political prison where Nelson Mandela spent 17 years -- at 9:00am. (There are special exhibits on Nelson Mandela and apartheid where we catch the boat.) It’s about a 45-minute ride out to Robben Island. Tours are led by ex-political prisoners themselves, so you’ll hear about their own personal experiences, as well as the history of Robben Island and, of course, you’ll visit Mandela’s actual cell.
Board the boat for the return to the Cape Town Waterfront.
You’ll have the rest of the afternoon free for a lunch at the waterfront, time to shop at the Watershed, a collection of exquisite ceramics, furniture, textiles, fashion and jewelry, or visit the just-opened and highly acclaimed Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. You’ll take a taxi back (there are cab stands there) to the hotel on your own.
We meet at the hotel for wine, book talk and conversation before dinner.
Friday, February 1
We depart with uThando, an organization which serves a wide range of highly effective community projects in the townships of Cape Town. We’ll visit projects in the Guguletu and Kayelitsha townships, meeting the people who run them as well as those they serve. We’ll have a unique and authentic introduction to the social problems confronting so many millions of South Africans, while also seeing the innovative and inspirational ways in which they are being handled by these marginalized and destitute communities. Very importantly, the projects are not treated as tourist attractions.
The tours are designed in such a way as to educate, inform and inspire while also respecting the dignity and privacy of the people concerned. The projects are, after all, places where people live, work and in many cases, just survive.
This afternoon you’ll have time to explore the center city of Cape Town. We’ll be dropped off at the Slave Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. It was originally built in 1679 by the Dutch East India Company to house slaves. The museum details the history of slavery in South Africa and around the world.
The Slave Lodge is located at the entrance to the Company’s Gardens, today a lush park bordered by the South African Houses of Parliament, the South African National Gallery and other museums. The gardens were established in 1652 to re-supply ships on the spice trade route around the Cape of Good Hope. The original flower and vegetable gardens have been re-created. We can enjoy lunch here in the Garden, or in nearby restaurants.
You’ll also want to stroll over to Greenmarket Square, a vibrant outdoor market that began as a slave market. It’s just the place to look for clothing, glassware, hand-painted fabrics, footwear, music, sunglasses and curios from all over Cape Town and Africa, and it’s all made even livelier by nearly constant street entertainers. Lots of coffee shops and small restaurants border the square too.
You’ll take a taxi back to the hotel on your own.
We meet at the hotel for wine, book talk and conversation before dinner.
Saturday, February 2
We depart for our day in the Winelands. We’ll begin in the charming town of Stellenbosch with a visit to the Village Museum, a collection of four houses representing different periods of South African history.
We’ll have an introduction to South African wines at one of the many wineries before we drive to Franschhoek for lunch (included) in the shaded garden of Bread and Wine restaurant located on the Môreson wine estate. The landscape throughout the winelands is stunning, with vineyards, fruit orchards and olive trees framed by the low mountains behind them.
On our way back, we make a stop to see the gates of the Drakenstein Correctional Center, the prison out of which Nelson Mandela finally walked to freedom.
6:30pm. Wine and conversation at the hotel.
Sunday, February 3
Today you’ll either depart for home, or you’ll continue with us on the optional extension to the Motswari Private Game Reserve.
For those who choose to go to Motswari, we’ll take an early flight out of Cape Town to Hoedspruit, where we’ll be met for the drive through Timbavati to the safari lodge. There we’ll stay in artfully thatched bungalows scattered through the property.
At Motswari, we enjoy an afternoon tea of salads, savories and desserts.
We climb into our vehicles with our guide and tracker for the afternoon game drive.
Return from the game drive to rest or shower.
Dinner with your guide.
Monday and Tuesday, February 4 and 5
A knock on your door wakens you for the pre-dawn beginning of the morning game drive, when the animals are most active.
Stop at the verandah for coffee, tea and a quick muffin before we leave for the drive at 5:30am.
Return from the game drive for a luscious breakfast in the open air. The rest of the morning and early afternoon are free; you might want to linger at the swimming pool or in the library.
We enjoy an afternoon tea of salads, savories and desserts.
We climb into our vehicles with our guide and tracker for the afternoon game drive.
Return from the game drive to rest or shower.
Dinner with your guide.
Wednesday, February 6
Today we have our final morning game drive and breakfast, after which we’ll be driven back to Hoedspruit’s small airport for flights to Johannesburg, where you’ll connect to your fight home.
Costs & What's Included
The price for the Cape Town week is $3990 per person, where you’ll have your own room. For the optional extension to Motswari Game Reserve, the price is $2245, based on sharing a room.
Please note that the safari lodge has a limited number of rooms, and almost all lodges are designed for shared rooms. We’ll assign you a roommate, or you may choose a roommate while we’re in Cape Town.
You’ll find that, due to the exchange rate of the rand to the dollar, things are very inexpensive once you arrive in South Africa. Most dinners in Cape Town, for instance, cost under $25, including wine and dessert, and many places charge much less than that.
- 6 nights in the SunSquare Hotel, with breakfast
- Single rooms for those traveling on their own
- Free wifi
- High tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel
- The services of two trip leaders
- All transportation out of Cape Town with qualified driver/guides
- Tips for our driver/guides
- Admission to all museums and other venues described in the itinerary as group activities
- Wine tasting in Stellenbosch
- Lunch at Bread and Wine in Franschhoek
- Lunch on our Cape Point day
- Evening wine and munchies before dinner each day
Optional Extension to Motswari
- Transport from Hoedspruit airport to the lodge, and return transport to the airport
- 3 nights stay (shared room) in a beautiful thatched bungalow
- 6 game drives
- All meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Free wifi in the public areas
- Laundry services if needed
Reserve Your Space Today
A deposit of $850 will hold your space (be sure to scroll down and read the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms & Conditions before you register for the trip). You may pay the deposit and final amount by check or, if you prefer to use a credit card, via Paypal, with a 3% surcharge.
Checks should be made out to Wild Blue Yonder and mailed to 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
For more information, contact either of the trip leaders:
firstname.lastname@example.org, 1 301 587-4555
email@example.com, 1 410 268-5567
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who should come on this trip?
Our trips are perfect for solo travelers; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend, spouse or partner. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. This is not a particularly strenuous trip; most people will find it quite comfortable.
Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
The Cape Town trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room. However, for the three nights at the Motswari Lodge, we are asking people to share a room. The number of rooms is limited, and the rooms are spacious enough for two people.
Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room in Cape Town, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, but of course you can share a room if you prefer.
Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18.
Q. When is the trip?
The trip begins on Monday, January 28, and ends on Sunday, February 3. For those continuing with the extension to the Motswari Safari Lodge, we will depart Cape Town on Sunday, February 3, and depart for the US from Johannesburg on Wednesday, February 6.
You will depart from your home city on either Sunday, January 27 (or Saturday, January 26 if flying through London). You’ll book your return flight on Sunday, February 3 if you’re leaving from Cape Town, or -- from Motswari --Wednesday, February 6. Note: on February 6, you will fly out of Johannesburg in the late afternoon or early evening.
Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing and leading trips for Politics & Prose for the past six years; this will be her 19th trip with P&P. In her former career, she was a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she is a volunteer at the National Gallery of Art– but she spends many months a year exploring the world and scouting out new places to add to the Politics & Prose trip list.
Barbara Wendell also travels extensively and has worked and traveled as part of her job as a focus group moderator. As a facilitator, she is very experienced in working with groups. She lives in Annapolis, MD, where she is involved with tourism as a docent and an active volunteer with Historic Annapolis. She has been to South Africa a number of times.
Q. When do I need to sign up by?
Because spaces are limited, you’ll need to register and pay your deposit as early as you can. This is particularly true if you plan to continue on to Motswari, as there’s a limited number of rooms there, and the internal flight to Motswari books up quickly.
Q. What will the food be like?
While there are a few local specialties that we’ll recommend you try (bobotie, for instance, a spicy meat dish, or malva pudding and koeksisters sweets), most of the food will be quite familiar to you. It’s pretty much what we eat in the States.
In Cape Town, you can find very fresh fish, chicken, beef and so on. Restaurants often offer vegetarian entrees, but gluten-free dishes are less common there. At dinner in Motswari, there’s always a choice of a vegetarian entrée, and plenty of salads, fruits and vegetables at lunch. Plus luscious desserts.
Q. Can we drink the water?
Absolutely. It’s safe to drink tap water and eat fresh fruit and salad in Cape Town, just as you would at home. At Motswari, you can use the tap for brushing your teeth, and they provide bottled water in your room for drinking.
Q. Is it safe to travel to South Africa?
As with all big cities, you should always take precautions not to leave handbags open, flash a lot of money in crowded areas, or carry your purse loosely. You might want to keep a small amount of bills in your pockets for incidentals, so that you don’t have to always go fishing in your handbag. All major credit cards are accepted, but it’s best to not let the card out of your sight while the transaction is being processed.
We suggest that you leave your passport, extra cash, credit cards and computer in the safe in your room each day.
In general, you won’t want to do a lot of walking at night. But there are a lot of nice restaurants near the hotel that are easily and safely reached on foot.
All that said, your trip leaders have been to Cape Town several times and walked all over the city without any problems. During the day you’ll always be escorted by our trip leaders or guides.
As for health, there is no ebola in South Africa. (As a local person said to us, “Africa is a big continent. You’re actually closer to a case of ebola in Paris than you are in South Africa.”)
Motswari is quite safe; just look out for any antelope or warthogs grazing the grounds.
Q. Do we have to buy travel insurance?
Yes, we strongly recommend that you buy both medical evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely as well.
Two well-regarded trip insurance companies are AIG TravelGuard and TravelEx. Generally you need to purchase the trip insurance at the time you pay your deposit.
Q. Do I need a visa to travel to South Africa?
Americans don’t need visas for South Africa, but your passport has to be valid for at least six months after the end of your trip, and there have to be at least two blank pages for passport control stamps.
Q. How do I fly to South Africa?
There are a number of flight options you can take. All the flights are long, but not uncomfortable. Some of the airlines which fly direct to South Africa from Dulles are Delta/KLM/Air France, United, South African Airways, Ethiopian and United.
If you’d like to break up your trip, you might fly on your preferred US carrier (or use your frequent flier miles) to London Heathrow. You’ll arrive in the early morning and have a very long layover until your flight to Johannesburg in the late afternoon, where you connect to Cape Town. We suggest you book a “day room” at a Heathrow hotel for a nap and a shower – which would mean you would depart from home on Saturday, not Sunday.
If you’re continuing on to the Motswari Game Reserve, you will book your internal flights (we’ll let you know what to book) through South African Airways.
Q. Do I need an international cell phone?
You don’t need an international phone unless you plan to spend time on your own or need to make frequent calls home. Your cell phone provider probably has an international calling package you can buy for the duration of the trip.
In Cape Town, the trip leaders will have cell phones, and the hotel is happy to book dinner reservations or call taxis for you. There is no cell service at Motswari, though there is wifi in the public areas.
If you bring a laptop, smartphone or iPad, you can always use Skype over wifi; that’s one of the least expensive ways to reach people in the States.
Q. If I want to stay longer in South Africa, can you arrange that?
Yes. Some people like to arrive a day or two early to get over jet lag, and we can certainly arrange that – or book you extra nights at the Cape Town hotel at the end of the trip. We can also arrange for you to spend extra nights at Motswari if available.
About Cape Town
Q. What is the SunSquare hotel in Cape Town like?
The hotel is beautifully positioned near the base of Table Mountain, in a quiet residential neighborhood. It’s just three blocks to the historic Mount Nelson Hotel and the Company’s Gardens and many other museums and restaurants. It has lovely views of Table Mountain.
The hotel was recently renovated, with modern and comfortable air-conditioned rooms, including desks, televisions, etc., and chrome and tile bathrooms. An electronic safe, plenty of closet and storage space, and complimentary wi-fi are all included. All rooms have a hair dryer. There’s an outdoor pool and a fitness room. A bountiful buffet breakfast is included for you every morning, with a wide array of cold and hot items, including made-to-order eggs. There’s a good restaurant as well, should you want dinner there in the evenings. We often linger in the bar area and outside veranda for a drink in the evenings.
There’s a concierge at the hotel to help you with taxi arrangements or restaurant reservations. It’s usually best to make reservations, as the places are either small, very popular, or both!
Q. How will we get around Cape Town?
We’ll most often have driver/guides with small vans. There are some restaurants and places near the hotel that we can walk to. In the evenings or other free time, you can always take a cab. And Uber here is really efficient. Your US Uber app works the same in Cape Town, and most Uber rides around the city cost less than $3!) And as mentioned above, the concierge at the hotel will gladly call taxis for you and make dinner reservations.
Q. How do I get from the airport to the hotel?
You’ll want to take an authorized taxi. There is a booth near the airport exit where the official taxis are arranged. (There will be people inside the airport looking for fares, but they may not be authorized; do NOT take an unauthorized taxi.) Once outside, the authorized taxi driver will approach you near the taxi stand (the drivers don’t sit in their cars). The fare with tip should be about R350, or just under $30.
We will let you know before the trip who else might be on your flight, so that you can share a taxi.
Q. What will the weather be like in Cape Town in January?
It will be full summer – equivalent to July -- in Cape Town, with temperature ranging in the high 70’s during the day, and lows in the low 60’s, with very little rainfall. (Still, pack your umbrella.) It can be very windy, especially in the late afternoons.
Q. What clothes should I bring?
For Cape Town, you will want your summer things. You can wear pants, shorts, skirts, summer dresses. Do bring some layering things - sweaters, even a jacket, as the boat ride to and from Robben Island is windy and cool, as is the top of Table Mountain. Don’t forget your swimming suit so you can enjoy the pool at the hotel.
As far as shoes, anything you would normally wear for walking on city streets will be appropriate in Cape Town.
Q. How much money will I need?
The dollar is often strong against the rand. And many of your expenses are covered in the trip cost. We suggest you budget about $600 in cash for the whole trip, although of course most places take credit cards.
There are many ATM locations around Cape Town. One very large bank with many locations is ABSA, which may have an agreement with your American bank to not charge an ATM fee.
Q. What about tipping?
South Africa has a tipping culture, so you’ll need to carry around some small bills (R10 and R20 – under a dollar or less than two dollars respectively -- for occasional tipping when someone performs a service for you.
Remember that the exchange rate is fairly good for the US dollar. At the hotel in Cape Town, consider R75 daily for the maid, and R10 for porters and bartenders. In restaurants, 10% is considered sufficient. If you use metered taxis, the fare is usually just rounded up to the nearest ten rand. With Uber, a tip is up to your discretion, but we generally tip because the fares are so low.
Q. Will I need special electrical plug adaptors?
Yes, South African outlets require an unusual 3 pin plug. Your hotel room may also have a few outlets that fit 2-prong European plugs. So you’ll need to bring along plug adaptors.
All of your non-heat-generating appliances (cell phone, camera battery charger, computer, etc.) will run on South African current. Heating appliances like U.S. hair dryers and curling irons will burn up, so don’t bring them. Both our hotels have hair dryers, and you can buy an inexpensive curling iron, etc. at the shopping mall a block from our hotel.
Q. What will it be like at Motswari?
Once you get to Motswari, you can put your wallet away. Your stay includes all your food and beverages except for alcoholic drinks, guide tips and a small conservation fee of about $20. That includes breakfast, lunch, and a special dinner with your jeep mates and your guide each evening. And lots of extra treats.
The rooms are luxurious thatched bungalows in the original African style; many have scenic views of the African bush.
Your rooms are all en suite, with lovely bathrooms. Everything you need is there, including hair dryer, shampoo, soap, towels, and face cloths. There is free wi-fi in the public areas, but no cell service at all. No televisions; you can watch the vervet monkeys by the pool instead.
There are many public areas at the lodge for socializing or relaxing. You’ll be going on two game drives each day. In between are meals and some down time for naps or relaxing by the pool.
Q. What will the weather be like in January in Motswari?
In the Timbavati, the location for our safari, expect it to be very hot. And yet you’ll need to bring along a fleece or other jacket, as it’s chilly in the early mornings in the open vehicle game drives. Most of the rain falls in the summer, though it’s a generally dry area.
Q. How do we get to the Motswari Lodge from Cape Town?
For those of you going on to the safari, we will provide guidance on what flights to take from Cape Town to the Hoedspruit airport, where you will be picked up by a driver, and on what flights to take from Hoedspruit to Johannesburg for flights back to the U.S.
Q. Are there any vaccines or other medical precautions I should take?
Neither Cape Town nor Motswari require any, but if you’re going on the safari, you might want to consider a malaria suppressant, which will require a prescription. Our safari lodge is adjacent to Kruger National Park, considered low risk for malaria by the CDC. The CDC also suggests consulting your doctor regarding hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines.
Q. What clothes should I bring for the safari?
At Motswari, lightweight pants and long sleeve shirts will protect you from the sun and mosquitoes. If you wear shorts and T-shirts, just remember you’ll want sunscreen and insect repellent. (There are also protective sprays available that you can spray on your clothes ahead of time.)
Bring a hat for the game drives for protection from the sun, but be sure it fits well, as we’re driving in an open vehicle. It can be cool and/or windy on drives in early morning and late evening. You’ll want a jacket for those. (The lodge provides rain gear if needed.) After the second game drive of each day, you might want something a little less grubby for dinner. But everything is very informal.
On safari, you’ll want shoes a bit more rugged than you might be wearing in Cape Town, for example, sneakers or hiking shoes. There’s a lot of sand on the camp trails, so sandals aren’t always practical.
Later we’ll provide you with a more detailed packing list.
Q. What about tipping on safari?
Tipping on safari is quite different. All tips are given at the end, and include individual tips for your guide and your tracker, and a single tip to cover all staff. We will cover this in more detail in later communications for those of you going on to Motswari, but generally this will amount to around $100 total, and you’ll cash for that (about 1200 rand).
Q. How much money will I need on safari?
Everything will be provided for you at Motswari, so you will only need money when you check out to cover incidentals like alcoholic drinks and any gift store purchases, and the tipping mentioned above. Plus there’s about a $20 conservation fee per person.
Terms & Conditions
Please read the following Terms & Conditions carefully, as set forth by Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, hereinafter referred to as Trip Planners. Payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
What’s Not Included in the Trip
Airfare for flights to South Africa, and the internal flights to Motswari Game Reserve; airline baggage fees; all items not specifically covered in the itinerary; personal, baggage and tour cancellation insurance policy; U.S. and foreign airport taxes; taxi from Cape Town International Airport to the SunSquare Hotel; travel and trip cancellation insurance, medical evacuation insurance; meals not specified in the itinerary; personal items like telephone, laundry in Cape Town, room service and so on, alcoholic beverages where meals are provided; individual tips such as chambermaids, concierge, etc.; tips for driver, tracker and staff at Motswari (about $100 total); taxis or Uber for getting around Cape Town on your own, should you choose to do so; internet wi-fi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description; and anything else not specifically included in the section “What’s Included.”
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
Payment of the deposit confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal. Full final payment is due October 16, 2018.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 120 days before a trip departs; those deposits are nonrefundable. After two weeks of the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation.
Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
All payments made by you are held in an escrow account until 140 days before the start date of the trip. We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before October 16, 2018, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you may have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter.
Should the trip be cancelled by Wild Blue Yonder or Politics & Prose, you would receive a full refund of any monies paid.
While Trip Planners use their best endeavors to ensure that all anticipated accommodation is available as planned, there shall be no claim of any nature whatsoever against Trip Planners for a refund either in the whole or part, if any accommodation or excursion is unavailable and a reasonable alternative is not found. If the guest is unable to use any service provided in the itinerary, then there are no refunds due.
Changes to Your Reservation
We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of 120 days before the trip start date. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip less than 120 days before it begins, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors. Note that if you are on Medicare, it does not provide coverage outside of the United States.
It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip to South Africa. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities: cancellation or curtailment of the trip, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods. Trip Planners including their representatives, employees and agents will take no responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guest’s dependants or traveling companions, with regards to, but not limited to, any of the above mentioned eventualities. Guests will be charged directly by the relevant service providers for any emergency services they may require, and may find themselves in a position unable to access such services should they not be carrying the relevant insurance cover.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.
Trip Planners may at their discretion and without liability or cost to themselves at any time cancel or terminate a guest’s booking and in particular without limiting the generality of the foregoing it shall be entitled to do so in the event of the illness or the illegal or incompatible behavior of the guest, who shall in such circumstances not be entitled to any refund. The person making any booking will, by the making of such booking, warrant that he or she has authority to enter into a contract on behalf of the other person included in such a booking and in the event of the failure of any or all of the other persons so included to make payment, the person making the booking shall by his/her signature thereof assume personal liability for the total price of all bookings made by him/her.
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip and with at least two blank pages for visas.
Physical Mobility, Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip is not particularly strenuous, but there is a good deal of walking on uneven ground. The safari vehicles do not have doors, so you must be able to climb into them up small metal steps, to a height of about five feet.
We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking and climbing, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities.
If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis and entrance fees).
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive in Cape Town on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date 120 days before the trip start date.
Please be aware that the Motswari safari may take you into close contact with wild animals. Attacks by wild animals are rare, but you cannot be guaranteed on any safari into the African wilderness that this will not occur. Neither the Trip Planners, lodge, company, nor their employees, nor their agents can be held responsible for any injury or incident on the safari. Please note that the Motswari lodge is not fenced, so animals may roam in the grounds at night.
Trip Planners reserve the right without further notice to make use of any photograph or film taken on the trip by our photographers without payment or permission. We guarantee that no photographs of a compromising nature will be used.
Changes to Schedules
Although every effort is made to adhere to schedules it should be borne in mind that Trip Planners reserve the right and in fact are obliged to occasionally change routes and accommodation on trips and safaris as dictated by changing conditions. Such conditions may be brought about by seasonal rainfall on bush tracks, airfields and in game areas, by game migrations from one region to another, or airline or other booking problems, etc.
We love to read books about or set in the areas where we’re traveling. Here are some books you might like to read before you go.
July’s People by Nadine Gordimer
Written in 1981, before the end of apartheid, this futuristic novel shows apartheid ended through a civil war in which black South Africans have violently overthrown the system. The story follows a liberal white South African family forced to move from Johannesburg to the native village of their black servant.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
One of the great South African novels, written in 1948 to tell the story of a Zulu pastor’s journey from rural South Africa to Johannesburg in search of his son, who is facing trial for the murder of a white man. The characters and events are compelling, and unforgettable. It is a “classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.”
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
A 2016 novel about two neighbors, one black and one white, both widows in their ‘80’s, in post-apartheid South Africa. They live in an affluent neighborhood in Cape Town. The book captures the changing racial relations and the pasts of the two women, and is both thought-provoking and enjoyable.
You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town by Zoe Wicomb
Zoe Wicomb’s collection of short stories tell of apartheid from the viewpoint of a young Colored woman in apartheid-era South Africa. She wrote this book in 1987, after moving to England. The stories, partly autobiographical, tell of the daughter of Colored parents in rural South Africa, who is taught as a child to emulate whites.
Waiting for the Bavarians by J.M. Coetzee
Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee’s book has been called one of the great books of the 20th century. The 1980 novel centers around racial strife and power struggles in a fictional colonial village. Although the colonial Empire and the land’s native population (the “barbarians”) are never identified, it is generally understood that the novel was written to reflect the political situation in South Africa.
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Set in a time of racial and cultural tensions in South Africa during World War II, this book is a coming-of-age story of a young boy. He is of English ancestry and goes to an Afrikaner boarding school where he is relentlessly bullied. He obtains a couple of mentors, who help him turn his life around. A favorite book of many people.
The Expedition to the Baobab Tree by Wilma Stockenstrom, translated by J.M. Coetzee
This novel is a first-person account of a nameless young African girl and former slave who has clawed her way to a peculiar sort of freedom, finding shelter in the trunk of a baobab tree in the veld. “A bittersweet novel that paints a complex psychological picture of slavery, and one woman’s struggle to maintain her humanity even under the most difficult circumstances.”
A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
Andre Brink is one of South Africa’s most distinguished authors. This book is the story of a white schoolteacher in suburban Johannesburg during apartheid. It tells of the consequences to himself and his family when he undertakes an investigation of the arrest and death of the black janitor from his school.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Published in 1994, this is the autobiography of former South African President Nelson Mandela, which profiles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison. Thorough while also very readable, the book reveals Mandela’s journey and that of his country as truly remarkable.
Good Morning, Mr. Mandela by Zelda LaGrange
Zelda was Nelson Mandela’s secretary and personal aide from 1994, the start of his presidency, until his death at the age of 95. “In Mandela’s aim to have an inclusive government administration, he chose Zelda LaGrange, a white Afrikaner, as his typist … this is the story of a young girl of white privilege who considered Mandela as a revolutionary and terrorist. It is her journal of change and how one man – the very person she despised – led her nation to reconciliation and her life to one of duty and dedication to the person she called Khulu – grandfather.”
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Comedian and anchor of The Daily Show Trevor Noah tells of his life growing up in South Africa, being born to a white Swiss father and black Xhosa woman and raised by his mother during apartheid. The stories he tells are in turn insightful, honest and often hilarious. A bestselling book, soon to become a movie.
No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
This book not only describes Archbishop Tutu but also his struggles, failures, and accomplishments as leader of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. At the time, Tutu was looking forward to a well-earned retirement from his role as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, when Mandela and others prevailed upon him “to give South Africa this one last thing.”
Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen by James Suzman
In this recently published account of the lives of African bushmen, anthropologist James Sizman asks us if we have something to learn from their example of being “satisfied with having fewer needs more easily met.” He talks of the hunting and gathering lifestyle that has sustained these bushmen for 150,000 years, and has us consider lessons on human evolution.
Kaffir Boy: A True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane
Kaffir Boy tells the story of the author’s life under apartheid, a life of violence, hunger and racism, as well as how he escaped South Africa to attend an American university, leaving his family behind.
Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home by Boyd Varty
This autobiography tells of growing up on a South African game reserve (not far from the Motswari reserve where we stay on our trip) and the transformation of old hunting grounds into a nature reserve. We enjoy stories of Varty’s life with his sister, learning to track animals at a young age, and working with his uncle, filming documentaries in the bush.
The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony
This best-selling book tells the story of a herd of wild elephants, which is destined to be shot for dangerous behavior when Lawrence Anthony intervenes to try to save their lives. He had devoted his life to animal conservation when he was asked to accept the herd of “rogue” elephants on a game reserve in Zululand.
Copyright Wild Blue Yonder, Inc.
Wild Blue Yonder plans, organizes and leads group trips for bookstores, historic associations and other corporate and not-for-profit entities. All our trips are designed for the specific interests of the groups for whom we work.