- Join experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal to delve into the creative movements making South Africa a destination for artists across the globe.
- On visits to urban studios and galleries, meet South African artists, activists, and curators who are using creative expression to reconcile with the dark history of apartheid.
- Explore the world’s largest collection of art from Africa and the African diaspora on an exclusive curator-led tour of the renowned Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
- Set out on safari in the South African lowveld from our base at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.
Delve into the colorful world of contemporary art in South Africa with experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal. Explore experimental galleries in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and venture across the vast lowveld on safari to see the iconic landscapes that are inspiring local artists. Explore the intersections of art, architecture, and social change during conversation with artists and activists who are confronting the country’s complex history and shaping the future of art in South African society.
This trip is offered in partnership with The Wall Street Journal.
Arrive at O.R. Tambo International Airport, enjoying VIP airport assistance, then transfer to our hotel in the city’s cosmopolitan Rosebank district. Relax this evening and peruse the hotel’s eclectic collection of South African art.
Meet fellow travelers and our accompanying National Geographic expert this morning to begin our exploration of the intersection of art and politics in South Africa. Visit Constitution Hill, once a notorious prison for political dissidents, including inmates such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, and view the extensive collection of contemporary art now housed in the court. Discover some of Johannesburg’s best street murals and public art installations in the Braamfontein district, then visit the Wits Art Museum, home to an impressive selection of pieces from the African diaspora. After lunch, head back to the fashionable Rosebank district for a series of gallery tours. Meet the curator of Everard Read, the oldest commercial art gallery in Africa, and get to know the work of Africa’s emerging artists at CIRCA and Gallery MOMO. Later, return to our hotel for a delicious welcome dinner.
Today, discover private galleries and public art off the beaten track. Join local artist and expert James Delaney for an insider’s view of the intersection between art, architecture, and political history in Johannesburg. Wander the former warehouse district of Victoria Yards, now a miniature neighborhood of studios, workshops, and galleries interspersed with organic gardens and artisanal restaurants. Sit down with visual artist Ayanda Mabulu to discuss the role of art in fighting apartheid, then continue to the painted streets of the Maboneng district, where Arts on Main offers studio space to notable artists such as William Kentridge and Mikhael Subotzky. After lunch, tour the city’s architectural highlights with local architect Brian Kent McKechnie, a driving force behind the restoration of many of Johannesburg’s most iconic structures. End your day with a visit to the Apartheid Museum.
Transfer to the airport this morning for a short flight to the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park. Travel across the lowveld to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, keeping an eye out en route for iconic wildlife, from antelope to zebra. At the lodge, meet our expert guides and trackers, then set out on a private game drive in search of Africa’s “big five”—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Stop for sundowners as evening descends over the plains, then return to the lodge for a gourmet meal under the stars.
Rise with the sun this morning for a private game drive in the reserve. Keep your camera ready in case we catch the local lion pride on the move during the cool hours of dawn. Learn how to spot camouflaged creatures and capture the colors and textures of this spectacular landscape on camera. Enjoy coffee in the bush, then return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast. This afternoon, cool off in the swimming pool or venture out on a walking safari. Later, join trackers and guides on another game drive in search of predators preparing for the evening hunt.
Set out on our final game drive this morning, then enjoy breakfast at the lodge before transferring to the airport for your flight to Cape Town. Arrive in this multicultural port city perched on the far southern tip of the African continent. Founded by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, Cape Town today is considered one of the world’s premier destinations for both artists and adventurers. Meet your local guide and head to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). On an immersive, curator-led tour, discover why this institution is poised to become one of the most influential art museums in the world.
Delve into the history of Cape Town and its thriving art scene today, beginning with a cable car ride to the top of iconic Table Mountain, offering panoramic views of the city and sea. Explore the Houses of Parliament, the Company’s Gardens, and the Iziko South African National Gallery, then stop for an illuminating lecture at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. Enjoy lunch at the renowned Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Opened in 1899 to cater to first-class passengers on the Union-Castle cruise line, the hotel also served as British headquarters during the Second Boer War, and stands as a grand homage to Cape Town’s history. In the afternoon, tour the Groote Schuur presidential residence. Sip sundowners while learning about the British colonial politician Cecil Rhodes from prominent activists involved with the Rhodes Must Fall movement to “decolonize” South African education.
Cruise across Table Bay this morning to explore Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Join a guide for a tour of the island, and see Mandela’s cell in the former prison complex. Back in Cape Town, continue to examine the history of apartheid at a series of political sites and learn how these landmarks are connected to modern artistic movements. Begin at the Castle of Good Hope, a 17th-century fort near the shore of Table Bay. Meet the curator of the site’s government collections and go behind the scenes to see political works from the apartheid era that can no longer be displayed in public. Continue to the Bo-Kaap neighborhood at a meeting with local Muslim artists, then tour the Mendelssohn Collection at the Houses of Parliament, followed by a visit to the Goodman Gallery. After lunch, meet local artists at their studios in either the Woodstock or Salt River suburb.
Venture south today to the Cape Peninsula, jutting out into the South Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a curator-led tour of the newly opened Norval Foundation, displaying 20th- and 21st-century art from South Africa and beyond. Observe colorful architecture in Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town, and visit the iconic Cape Point Lighthouse, the last beacon for ships sailing into the vast expanse between Africa and Antarctica. Enjoy a seasonal picnic lunch by wild food innovator Roushanna Gray at the Good Hope Gardens Nursery, sampling ingredients foraged from the surrounding environment. Visit the Masiphumelele community to learn how local artisans utilize limited natural resources to craft unique paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and more.
Delight in a full-day excursion to the Cape Winelands, a region of rolling vineyards and soaring peaks northeast of Cape Town. Visit charming galleries in Franschhoek, one of the oldest towns in South Africa. Enjoy a tasting at the Grande Provence wine estate while admiring the property’s unique art collection, then delve into the region’s Cape Dutch heritage at La Motte winery and museum. Sip various vintages at the spectacular Delaire Graff Estate while marveling at select works of art and stunning views of the red-hued mountains around Stellenbosch. Choose to relax over a casual lunch in the estate garden or enjoy a gourmet meal at an iconic restaurant high on the hillside. In Stellenbosch, explore the SMAC Gallery and the Dylan Lewis Studio and Sculpture Garden. Stroll the garden’s tranquil groves and hidden paths, enjoying canapés and cocktails before your farewell dinner.
Transfer to the airport in Cape Town to connect with your international flight home.