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PopSci in South Africa: Wild Things in the Cradle of Humanity



  • Duration: 14 days
  • Price: from $3,599

Also available:
Optional Victoria Falls Extension!
Scroll down to see the Extension tab!

Click Here to Reserve Tour

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Save up to $1000 per couple!!!

Amazing pricing to South Africa for a limited time only! Save up to $1000 per couple on our remarkable South Africa Tours. Reserve by June 14, 2018 to qualify for the early booking discount. Space is limited on this South Africa Safari so please reserve early.

Itinerary at a glance Tour Highlights Your South Africa tours include
  • 4 nights in Cape Town
  • 2 nights in Hluhluwe/Zululand
  • 1 night in Swaziland
  • 2 nights in Kruger Park
  • 2 nights in Johannesburg
  • 3-night extension to Optional Victoria Falls


  • Table Mountain (Cape Town)
  • Cape Peninsula (Cape Town)
  • Meet with BirdLife South Africa Representative (Cape Town)
  • Meet with South African National Biodiversity Institute Representative (Cape Town)
  • Hluhluwe Game Reserve
  • Kruger National Park
  • Meet Specialist on Rhino’s Impact on the Ecosystem
  • Apartheid Museum (Johannesburg)
  • Optional Victoria Falls Extension


Special PopSci Experiences

  • Meeting with BirdLife South Africa Representative (Cape Town)
  • Meet South African National Biodiversity Institute Representative (Cape Town)
  • Meet Specialist on Rhinos Impact on Ecosystem (Kruger)
  • Cradle of Humankind Tour with Scientist Guide (Johannesburg)
  • Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) via South African Airways
  • Airfare taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
  • Intra-South Africa flight and ground transportation
  • Accommodations at superior first class hotels
  • 18 meals: 11 buffet breakfasts (B), 2 lunches (L), 5 dinners (D)
  • Comprehensive touring and safaris 
  • Science & technology experiences handpicked by the PopSci editorial team
  • Experienced, English speaking Tour Director
  • Popular Science Representative for most (or all) of your trip


Your Extension Includes:

  • Round-trip airfare
  • Three nights at the luxurious Victoria Falls Safari Lodge with buffet breakfast daily
  • Sundowner Cruise on the Zambezi River
  • A tour of the Victoria Falls

Click on the tabs below to learn more!

Guided Tour Pricing

Pricing includes land and airfare

(Land only pricing available upon request)



Best Value Pricing
Reserve by Jun 14 2018

Reserve after
Jun 14 2018






After Sale

Oct 11

Oct 24

$ 3699

$ 3799

$ 4199

Bryan Gardiner

Nov 27

Dec 10

$ 3599

$ 3699

$ 4099

Sara Chodosh

Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
Single room supplement is $449
Business Class Upgrade (JFK – Johannesburg & Johannesburg – JFK Flights Only):
Add $5,700 from New York (JFK)
Victoria Falls Extension:
Add $1295 per person based on double occupancy / $1495 per person based on single occupancy
If taking the Victoria Falls extension, a visa is required for Zimbabwe. US and Canada passport holders can obtain it upon arrival
For more information on this tour, please contact us here or call us during business hours (Mon-Fri, 9:30-5:30 EST) at 844-565-8582.
Reservations and Payments
Reservations can be made by phone (1-844-565-8582) and will be confirmed upon receipt of $300 per person non-refundable, non-transferable deposit (by check payable to smarTours) which must be received within 7 days of reservation. Full payment is due 75 days prior to departure. Baggage fees may apply. Space and prices subject to availability. For complete booking information and terms & conditions click here.


Day 1
Depart USA
Your fascinating South Africa Tours begin as you depart New York today.
Day 2
Arrive in Cape Town
Arrive in Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest and most spectacular city and the culinary capital of the country!

You’ll be met and escorted to your hotel, ideally located near the vibrant V&A Waterfront. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a welcome dinner and briefing.

Accommodations: Cape Sun Hotel
Meals: Dinner

Day 3
Cape Town
Sheltered beneath the dramatic shape of Table Mountain, Cape Town is indeed one of the world’s most unique cities. This morning, a local expert leads you on a sightseeing tour to explore the charms of the city.

Ride by cable car to the top of Table Mountain for glorious city and bay views. Descend and travel through the Malay Quarter and the city center for a chance to view and photograph impressive Table Mountain from a distance.

Your tour ends at the vibrant V&A Waterfront where the balance of the day is at leisure. You may relax at one of the cafes, stroll around and browse the craft and art shops or sample South Africa’s renowned wines. Also consider an optional cultural experience.

Accommodations: Cape Sun Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4
Cape Town
A memorable full-day excursion to the Cape Peninsula begins with a scenic drive passing steep mountains, secluded coves, and sweeping beaches en route to Cape Point at the southern tip of the Peninsula.

Stop at the fishing village of Hout Bay before arriving to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The reserve is rich with flora and fauna and you may see baboons, rheboks and Cape Mountain zebras. Savor the stunning views of the coastline where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

After lunch at a famous seafood restaurant follow the majestic coastline along False Bay and stop at Simon’s Town, where you’ll visit the Penguin colony.

When visiting Boulders Beach, meet with a representative of BirdLife South Africa. Learn more about BirdLife South Africa’s efforts and how they’re working to conserve birds, their habitats, and how they’re encouraging people to enjoy and value nature more.

Next, visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where you’ll meet with a representative of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which leads research, and monitors the state of biodiversity in South Africa.

Enjoy a private tour and marvel at the magnificent display of indigenous South African flora before returning to Cape Town late this afternoon.

Accommodations: Cape Sun Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5
Cape Town
Today is at leisure for independent exploration, shopping or relaxing! An optional excursion to the charming winelands region just outside Cape Town is available.

You may also use your free time to visit Robben Island and see where Nelson Mandela spent nearly two decades in captivity. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can enjoy the amazing and thrilling experience of great white shark cage diving!

Accommodations: Cape Sun Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6
Cape Town – Zululand – Hluhluwe
Board a morning flight to King Shaka International Airport on the Kwazulu Natal North Coast, just outside the bustling port city of Durban. Journey to the charming resort village of Westbrooke, where you may enjoy a stroll on the golden sands of the Indian Ocean shoreline.

Later, travel northwards through canefields and timber plantations to Zululand, home to one of the most famous of the African tribal peoples. Arrive at your hotel located near the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, renowned for saving the white rhinoceros from extinction.

Accommodations: Endoneni Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
An exciting day begins with a visit to the Dumazulu Cultural Village, where the ancient arts of the Zulu people are kept alive. Learn about the traditional Zulu dress, and the construction of the original “beehive” huts.

See how weapons and musical instruments were made, and meet a traditional healer with his collection of unusual medications and spells. Afterwards, enjoy tribal dancing. A special lunch combining Zulu and Western dishes will be served. This afternoon, enjoy a game drive in open vehicles in the enchanting Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

Accommodations: Endoneni Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8
Hluhluwe – Swaziland
Today, continue your scenic drive north and cross the border into the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland. Shop for unique African souvenirs at the colorful markets and see basket weavers at work.

Accommodations: Avani Ezulwini Valley Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9
Swaziland – Kruger National Park
Drive through the beautiful countryside of Swaziland to the world famous Kruger National Park. As one of Africa’s largest game reserves, Kruger National Park is South Africa’s premier game sanctuary.

Enjoy a game drive in your own motor coach today which takes you in search of the wild. Your upscale lodge is located near the park.

This evening before dinner, meet with a specialist guide. Learn more about the effects of Rhinos on the ecosystem and about conservation and preservation efforts in South Africa.

Accommodations: Sabi River Sun or Protea Hotel by Marriot Kruger Gate
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10
Kruger National Park
Your safari today includes a morning game drive, in open vehicles, in search of the parks many residents including the “Big Five”: Lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino and hopefully the more elusive leopard.

You may also spot hippopotamus and crocodiles as well as zebras and giraffes. Plains game and bird life also abound. Have your camera ready!

Accommodations: Sabi River Sun or Protea Hotel by Marriot Kruger Gate
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
Kruger National Park – Mpumalanga – Sandton (Johannesburg)
Drive through Mpumalanga (formerly Eastern Transvaal) panoramic wild countryside and enjoy unparalleled views of densely forested mountains, valleys, rivers and waterfalls.

Arrive in the magnificent Blyde River Canyon, one of the greatest spectacles of Africa. Proceed to Bourke’s Luck Pot Holes, a place of African legend containing bizarre holes cut into rock by powerful river erosion. Later relish sweeping views from God’s Window. Proceed to Sandton, a flourishing suburb of Johannesburg, the commerce and diamond mining center.

Accommodations: Garden Court Sandton City Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12
Cradle of Humankind Excursion
Today, travel northwest of Johannesburg to the Gauteng province.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, the site currently occupies 180 square miles and contains a complex of limestone caves. The registered name of the site in the list of World Heritage Sites is Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa.

Accommodations: Garden Court Sandton City Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13
Depart South Africa
Today is at leisure for last minute shopping or independent pursuits before transferring to the airport for your return flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 14
Arrive in USA
Your memorable South Africa tours come to an end as you touch down in New York this morning.

Extension Itinerary

Why not extend your trip to the magnificent Victoria Falls? The 300 feet tall falls are often called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Your extension includes airfare, three nights at the luxurious Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, buffet breakfast daily, a Sundowner Cruise on the mighty Zambezi River, a tour of the falls and all transfers. Extension starts on day 13.

Day 13
Johannesburg – Victoria Falls
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Victoria Falls. You’ll be met and escorted to your deluxe hotel. Join a Sundowner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. Marvel at the vegetation on the river’s banks and the spectacular sunset.

Accommodations: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge or Ilala Lodge Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14
Victoria Falls
Visit the craft village and observe the traditional way of life. Proceed to the Victoria Falls, often described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. This afternoon you may return to the Falls on your own.

Accommodations: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge or Ilala Lodge Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15
Victoria Falls
A day at leisure. You may join a fascinating optional excursion across the border to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Chobe boasts one of the largest populations of elephants in the world along with lions, hippos and zebras.

Accommodations: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge or Ilala Lodge Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 16
Victoria Falls – Johannesburg, Depart South Africa
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Johannesburg connecting to your flight back to the USA.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 17
Arrive in USA
Arrive New York this morning.

Optional Tours

To enhance and make your visit to South Africa (and Victoria Falls if applicable) more complete and memorable, you will be offered several optional tours. All rates are approximate in US dollars and are subject to change based on fluctuation of exchange rates and suppliers rates. Payment should be made in local currency by cash, Visa or Mastercard. Additional optional tours may be added for your enjoyment, and the optional tours listed below may not be available on all departure dates. Note that optional tours are non-refundable.

Day 3
Half-Day Cultural Heritage & Township Tour
Approx. $40 per person

This tour allows visitors a unique journey through the history of South Africa, divided into what is referred to as “The Three South Africa’s”. From the monumental turning point in the Birth of South Africa to the now-decaying ruins of Apartheid South Africa to the townships of the New South Africa. This tour is not to be missed during your visit to Cape Town, as you’re given insight into the greatness of Nelson Mandela and what South Africa has achieved ever since the nation took up his challenge to rise above pain and bitterness. Some of the elements of the excursion may vary depending what’s going on in Cape Town on that particular day, but may include a walking tour, visiting a family’s very modest home and being entertained by a choir. You’ll be sure to experience eye-opening encounters, especially when visiting Langa, the oldest black township and Khayelitsa the largest township, where cultural values and personal experiences are exchanged.

Day 5
Robben Island Tour**
Approx. $23 per person

Depart from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront by ferry across Table Bay to Robben Island, the infamous home to the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and others were jailed. You’ll have a chance to visit the prison and explore Murray’s Bay Harbor precinct before returning to the waterfront by ferry. (Ferries depart from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront several times daily, weather permitting. Transfers from your hotel to the pier and back are not included).

Please note: The Robben Island excursion is operated by a non-profit foundation and therefore, smarTours does not book and cannot guarantee space on this tour. Tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis and therefore may not be available during your visit. (For further information and to pre-book online, you can go to

**If you wish to visit both Robben Island and the Winelands, then we recommend that you reserve the 9:00am ferry to Robben Island on your last day in Cape Town. After your morning excursion to Robben Island, provided there are no significant delays, you will have the opportunity to participate in the Winelands Tour during the afternoon. Please note that the ferry schedule is subject to change based on inclement weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.

Day 5
Winelands Tour
Approx. $53 per person

Join this excursion to the beautiful wine region. Travel to culturally and historically significant Stellenbosch, a quaint town in the heart of this scenic region, filled with wineries. Walk through the town and explore the impressive Cape Dutch architecture. Your next stop is at a wine estate where you’ll attend a wine tasting session, have an opportunity to explore the grounds and gardens and maybe purchase some local wines!  

Day 5
Full Day Great White Shark Cage Diving***
Approx. $159 per person, including breakfast, packed lunch, hot soup and transfers

Depart your hotel early in the morning for a full day adventure to experience great white shark cage diving. You’ll head east to the coastal fishing town of Gansbaai, where’you’ll meet your crew and go over the day ahead (and safety instructions) while enjoying breakfast. Then, board the boat and head into the open waters where you’ll put on gear provided to you and climb into through the top of the secure cage. Watch the amazing great white sharks from underwater and enjoy an amazing, thrilling experience. You’ll also enjoy watching the predators from the comfort of the boat while your fellow divers are under water.

*** This tour operates on the last day in Cape Town, and it is not possible to do Robben Island or Winelands if you participate in this optional activity. Please also note that this tour must be cancelled at least 24 hours prior to departure, otherwise 100% cancellation fees will apply. In addition, if bad weather prevents you from going to sea, you will be informed and given a full refund. If strong winds pick up while at sea and a return to shore is required for your safety, you will not be entitled to a refund. In addition, due to variable weather conditions and variable shark activity, diving may not always be possible and is therefore not guaranteed.

Day 15 Extension
Full-Day Chobe National Park (Botswana) Safari & Tour
Approx. $175 per person plus a $30 Botswana tourism tax per person

Transfer this morning from Victoria Falls across the border to Botswana and arrive at Chobe National Park. Embark on a safari boat ride on the Chobe River to view the rich wildlife and numerous bird species in this amazing game reserve. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle. Return to your hotel at Victoria Falls early this evening.

PopSci Representatives

Kate Baggaley
Kate Baggaley
Departure: Aug. 23
Kate Baggaley is a science writer based in the New York area. As a contributing editor for Popular Science, she covers nature, space, the human brain, and the weird things animals get up to in their spare time.
Sara Chodosh
Bryan Gardiner
Departure: Oct. 11
Bryan Gardiner is a science and technology journalist and a contributing editor at Popular Science. He’s written about the molecular mechanisms of itchiness, the chemistry behind strengthened glass, and why clickbait works, among other topics. His writing has appeared in Slate, Wired, Atlas Obscura, California Sunday Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.
Sara Chodosh
Sara Chodosh
Departure: Nov. 27
Sara Chodosh is a science journalist (and budding graphics/data viz journalist) and an assistant editor at Popular Science. She has a master’s degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting from NYU and an abiding love for all things weird or gross.

Trip Preparation

Your departure flights from New York’s JFK Airport to South Africa and back are on South African Airways.  We recommend that you check-in 3 ½ hours before departure.                               

Depart       10:30AM

Return        8:00AM
Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing immigration and customs if you are planning a connecting flight.  We recommend at least 3 ½ hours.  Please keep in mind that flight schedules are always subject to change.

South African Airlines does not assign seats in advance.  Seat assignment can only be arranged upon check-in at the airport.

You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. All visitors are required by the South African immigration authorities to have a minimum of two consecutive blank visa entry pages in their passport. Insufficient pages in the passport normally results in denied boarding or denial of entry upon arrival and the person is likely to be detained pending return to their country of origin. Visa not required for American passport holders for South Africa. Non U.S. citizens should check with the respective consulates as to the most current visa requirements to all their travel destinations (which includes the Republic of South Africa and Swaziland and if taking the Victoria Falls extension, also Zimbabwe). Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.

If you are taking the Victoria Falls extension, a Zimbabwe visa is required. U.S and Canadian citizens can obtain the visa on arrival at Victoria Falls airport. US citizens pay a fee of $30 in U.S. dollars (cash) for single entry visa. If you are planning to join the Chobe optional excursion to Botswana, you’ll need a double entry visa which is $45. Canadian passport holders’ single entry visa fee to Zimbabwe is $75 and if taking the full day Chobe optional trip, an additional fee of $75 applies to re-enter Zimbabwe.  Passport holders of other countries need to check with the Zimbabwe embassy before departure as to the visa requirements. Visa fees & regulations are subject to change.

Your airline tickets along with final instructions and additional travel tips will be sent to you 10 – 7 days before the scheduled departure of your tour.  Please make sure to advise us in case your address changes.

Effective June 1, 2015 children younger than 18 years who enter South Africa will be required to present a certified copy of a full birth certificate.  Copies are not acceptable. If not traveling with both parents then additional documentation is required. For more information about children’s requirements, please visit the consulate website at

Please consult your personal physician or local public health authorities regarding taking anti malaria pills as well as other recommendations.

South Africa is located in the southern hemisphere and therefore has the reverse season to those of the U.S. The weather is temperate and even during the wintertime you’ll enjoy comfortable temperatures. Average daytime temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s from April-Sept and in the 70’s and 80’s from Oct to March. Overnight temperatures are lower by 10-20 degrees.

You may dine at either of the hotels used on this tour or in another nearby restaurant recommended by your guide. Food costs in South Africa are very reasonable compared with the USA. Average cost for dinner (excluding drinks) in the coffee shop is about $20-25 per meal per person. Your hotel will accept credit cards for your non-included meals.

Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards.  However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency or U.S. Dollars.  Your hotels will be able to exchange for you cash to local currency. It is recommended that you bring along cash in small denominations.

Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (suitcase maximum 44 pounds) and one carry-on piece not to exceed 18”x10”x8”. We recommend that you do not over-pack and that you take a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

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