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400 Years of Jews in South Africa: Diamonds, Gold, Freedom Fighters and The Big Five

400 Years of Jews in South Africa – Diamonds, Gold, Freedom Fighters and The Big Five grew out of our love for South Africa. During numerous trips, as well as a 14-month residency, and 20,000 miles of driving, we have explored all parts of this astonishingly beautiful yet complicated country. Together we will visit our favorite destinations to learn about its unequaled diversity, including the important stories of the Jews who helped build it. You will be surprised at the key industries and social movements that were influenced by the Jewish people of South Africa.

•  Discover the key role Jewish people played in the story of South Africa.
•  Fall in love with beautiful Cape Town, the mother city, and its wine lands; the diamond city of Kimberly; and the gold city of Johannesburg.

•  Sample South Africa's diverse foods, art, music and theater.
•  Follow historic routes of 19th Century Voortrekkers and Jewish traders – rarely experienced by tourists.

•  Drive through the towering Swartberg Mountains and the Klein and Great Karoos. Look down into the Valley of Desolation. 
•  Trace the Struggle Against Apartheid – Robben Island, Soweto Township, Liliesleaf, the Constitution Court and the Apartheid Museum.
•  Meet members of rural, township and urban communities – diaspora immigrants all – including Zulus, Xhosa, Europeans, Africans and more.
•  Participate in an archaeological dig to search for thousand year-old remains of the first men and women.
•  Track the big five through the bush in an historic South Africa game reserve, while staying in a classic tented camp. 
•  Visit Table Mountain, first seen by Western Dutch traders en route to the Indian Ocean and the exotic East for spices.
•  Stay on if you have time to see more of Southern Africa including Victoria Falls, Botswana, Namibia...and much, much more.

Sample Itinerary for a small group luxury tour

17 Days/16 Nights

Cape Town, Johannesburg, Safari and more

Extensions to Victoria Falls, Botswana, Namibia and more

SA Itineary
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Cape Town


Begin your journey in Cape Town, South Africa. Enjoy a welcome Sundowner drink at the top of Table Mountain at sunset.


Explore Cape Town at the Victoria and Albert waterfront where sailors from the Dutch East India Company landed 400 years ago.  Visit the Company Gardens, where sailors planted their first fruits and vegetables. Some of the plantings still exist today. Take a boat ride across the harbor to Robben Island and tour the prison that was Nelson Mandela’s primary residence for 27 years. Meet some of the men who were imprisoned with him and hear their stories.


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Drive to the Cape of Good Hope and walk out on Cape Point – Africa’s most southwestern point. The waters can be so rough that many ships have crashed on the rocks attempting to round the Cape in their pursuit of spices. On the way back, stop by a Penguin colony – you will fall in love with them! End the day at the beautiful new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art of Africa.


Learn the history of South African Jews at the Jewish Museum while touring the beautiful Gardens Shul. Spend the afternoon at the gorgeous botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch, with more species of tropical plants than anywhere else in the world. Visit the District Six Museum, the sad story of a lost community.


A day in the beautiful wine lands. In the evening,  groove to some African jazz or take in a play at the very hip Fugard Theater.

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Up the Middle


In the morning, enjoy a gorgeous drive to Oudtshoorn, home of the ostrich feather industry, when ostrich feathers were an international rage. Learn about ostriches at the history museum. You might even try to outrun these amazingly fast-running birds.


From Outdtshoorn, take a drive along the world-famous Garden Route and test your swimming skills in the warm Indian Ocean, or just sunbathe on an exquisite South African beach.


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Drive through the Swartberg Mountains and Klein and Great Karoos. Explore Graaff-Reinet, crossroads of 19th Century Jewish traders. Look down into the Valley of Desolation.


Visit Owl House - one of the strangest places you will ever visit – with its artistically bizarre sculptures. See the home of South Africa’s most famous playwright, Athol Fugard, and experience the haunting and seemingly unending Great Karoo.

DAY 10

Learn the story of South Africa’s diamond industry, financed by Jews, at the Big Hole, where it all started, in Kimberly. Visit the synagogue of the Jews who started it all.

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DAY 11

Meet the City of Gold, Johannesburg. While visiting a gold mine learn about the historic role the Jews played in the development of this giant industry. Experience the struggle for human rights in South Africa as you walk through a door at the Apartheid Museum – will you be classified as white on non-white today?

DAY 12

Visit Liliesleaf, so important to the Struggle, and Constitution Hill and its inspirational court. See if you can identify the twelve official languages of South Africa above the door. Attend a special lecture about the role of Jews in the Struggle.

DAY 13

Visit Soweto, one of the largest non-white communities. Spend time with residents to hear their stories. At one time, three Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on one street here. End your day at the oldest Jewish synagogue and meet some of their inspirational members. Participate in a social project sponsored by the synagogue community.

DAY 14

Spend the day with archaeologists at the Cradle of Humankind. Dig for the remains of the oldest man and woman.

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On Safari

DAY 15

Get out of the city to meet some of the famous African Big Five game animals. Drive through beautiful Blyde River Canyon in time for an evening game drive.

DAY 16

Go on two game drives – early morning and late afternoon. Fall asleep in the African bush dreaming of lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, Cape Buffalo and of course, giraffes.

DAY 17

Enjoy the excitement of a final game drive before returning to Johannesburg for your flight home.


Or take an extension to see more of Southern Africa – perhaps Victoria Falls, Botswana’s Okavango Delta or the incredible dunes of Namibia.


There’s so much more to explore while you’re there. Talk with us about these awesome extension destinations and others throughout Southern Africa. ​

Time to stay a little bit longer?


Extend your stay to see more of Southern Africa – perhaps to one, or more, of these wonderful places...

•  Victoria Falls

•  Botswana’s Okavango Delta

•  Incredible dunes of Namibia

•  Games parks of Zambia

•  Kalahari Desert

•  Richtersveld National Park

•  Mozambique

•  Swaziland and so many more amazing things to see and do.

Talk with us about these awesome destinations and others throughout Southern Africa. 

More photos: Click on white arrow below.

Contact Iris: or +1 914 231 9023 to start planning your journey!

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