Off to South Africa!

Congratulations to Karen Wells and four of her students from Midland High School in Northest Arkansas. They will be leaving June 2nd, headed to South Africa on the Discovery Student Adventures’s South Africa pilot trip.

Day 2 has them arriving  into Johannesburg where they will meet their South African travel manager, before boarding an internal flight to Cape Town, South Africa! Cape Town, on South Africa’s southwest coast, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It is tucked into the arms of a broad bay, surrounded by white-sand beaches with the magnificent Table Mountain rising as a backdrop to the city.  It is home to South Africa’s parliament and reflects South Africa’s history and heritage of cultures, religions, styles and flavors.

Day 3   Cape Town, South Africa

  • Ascend via cable car to view the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Cape peninsula, from the symbol of Cape Town, Table Mountain.
  • Discover Cape Point, where legend claims the Indian and Atlantic Oceans merge!
  • Learn about the African Penguin as they visit its land based colony at Boulders Beach, and about preservation efforts.  They will experience an exclusive “behind the scenes” orientation at SANCCOB (South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds). They will also be briefed about the infamous Treasure oil spill and be guided through areas of SANCCOB’s rehabilitation center.
  • That night, they will be hosted for dinner in a local home.
  • Friday June 5th, 2009

    Day 4   Cape Town, South Africa

    • A hands-on opportunity to do some drumming!  They will let their pulse beat to the original rhythms of Africa. Engage in a “drumming circle,” learning the basic beats and participate in a pulsating rhythmic orchestra conducted by the drum teacher/leader.  Tutors and co-drummers will be youth from the LoveLife Youth Center, which support underprivileged youth in the area and provides them opportunities.
    • Former political prison, now monument to the Freedom Struggle, Robben Island conveys so much about South Africa’s past and the power of hope.  Visit Mandela’s cell and be guided around the island and its history by a former political detainee. Also visit the only school on Robben Island, and meet the headmaster there to learn about the Island’s future as well as its past.

    Saturday June 6th, 2009

    Day 5   Cape Town, South Africa

    • Discover Shark Alley!  Approximately 12km offshore from Gansbaai (2hrs drive from CapeTown) there are two islands situated next to each other and due to a number of geographical reasons – one being the shallow and narrow channel that runs between these two islands – it has become known as one of only two unique areas in the world, where the chances to view the great white shark, rises exceptionally high and earned the nickname of “Shark Alley”.  Other wildlife species such as Cape Fur Seals, Cape Gannets, Cape Cormorants, Jackass penguins, whales and dolphins are also likely to be sighted.
    • They will board their groups charter boat and venture out into the water for the day! Observation of their subjects as well as the other wildlife that makes this area home is easy from the decks of your small sea vessel.
    • Spend the day with researchers who teach them about this often misunderstood creature, as they walk them through their research and conservation efforts, as well as give them the opportunity to participate and gather data.
    • Come face to face with their subject! The Great White Shark is one of the most feared predators and coming up close and personal with them is an awesome experience. The cage floats partially above and below the water surface where they can dive a few feet down either via snorkel techniques or with an air supply and look eye to eye with this amazing creature .

    Sunday June 7th, 2009

    Day 6   Johannesburg, South Africa

    • Board  early flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
    • Explore the Apartheid Museum, a striking and impressive multi-media experience of Apartheid South Africa.  Likened to the Holocaust Museum in D.C., this museum takes them into the beating heart of the Freedom Struggle, the grip of the National Party’s Apartheid, and the giddy days of liberation.
    • Visit Nelson Mandela’s humble little house in Orlando West, Soweto, now called the Mandela Family Museum – an interesting stopover for those keen to imbibe a slice of authentic history regarding the world’s most famous former prisoner.
    • Observe the massive SOuth WEstern TOwnship (SO-WE-TO )of Johannesburg is the biggest city in South Africa, heart of the Freedom Struggle and home to a dichotomy of people’s, languages, economic groups, traditions and modernity.
    • Meet some incredible children at the Takalani Orphanage – home for physically and mentally disabled children. Take part in an interactive program with the children to further enrich the benefit of your visit. This may include a group art project, preparing a meal for and serving the children, or other activities or needs that best provide a meaningful encounter.

    Overnight: Johannesburg

    Monday June 8th, 2009

    Day 7   Johannesburg, South Africa

    ·        Experience the Cradle of Humankind: Sterkfontein Caves. Within the caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. Learn about the  most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old. These fossils, both found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind, tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, Homo sapiens.

    ·        Get hands on at Maropeng! Early humans and their ancestors came to the Maropeng area to use the local rocks for tool-making as they pursued a hunter-gatherer way of life. The technology of these tools suggests they were made sometime between 1.0 and 0.5 million years ago during the Earlier Stone Age, prior to the appearance of modern Homo sapiens.

    ·        Go tribal at Lesedi Cultural Village. Lesedi is a multi cultural village set amongst the pristine bushveld and rocky hills north of Johannesburg. Experience the vibrant and colorful traditions of the Basotho, Ndebele, Pedi, Xhosa and Zulu peoples. Be part of traditional Africa for just a short while as your guide brings the culture of each tribe alive to you.

      Overnight: Johannesburg

    Tuesday June 9th – Thursday June 11th, 2009

    Days 8-10 Kruger National Park, South Africa

    ·        Escape into the tranquillity and magnificence of the African bushveld, where the only sounds are natural and the sights are of magnificent animals and the bright night sky as you encounter the famous Kruger National Park. 

    ·        The Kruger National Park was founded by the government in 1926, thanks to the dedication of people who, in the face of a society that was of a very different mind, believed that the eastern part of South Africa needed to be preserved in its glorious, untouched state.  Today, Kruger National Park encompasses nearly 12,000 square miles of wildlife safari country and supports more than 800 species of animals living in their natural habitats. The park, rich in biodiversity, stretches for 350 km from south to north along the Mozambican border before meeting up with the Zimbabwean border in the north. This is a paradise for the wildlife enthusiast and is a world leader in dynamic environmental management techniques and policies based on experience gained over more than a century.

    ·        Open vehicle game drives each evening and morning will bring you up close and personal with the Big Five (the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) and all the other inhabitants of the bush.

    ·        Learn more about different ecosystems, habitat, game and birds from Park Rangers and Experts.

    ·        When night falls, look for nocturnal animals with spotlights.

    ·        While you are at Kruger National Park, Rangers will schedule a Game Darting and transport for your observation. This experience will further your education into the management of the Park, as well as hands on knowledge of encountering wildlife in the field for research and transportation.

    Overnight Highlight: Bush Camp within Kruger National Park

    Friday June 12th, 2009

    Day 11  Johannesburg, South Africa

    ·        Say their final goodbyes to the wonders of this preserved park before travelling back to Johannesburg for the evening.

    Karen and her students will be keeping us posted during their travels, so check back to get all the exciting info as we travel with them!

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