Dates subject to slight shift.
Where: South Africa
Who: 11 participants (ages 14-19) plus trip leaders Blake Boles + 1 other leader + 1 trip assistant (TBA)
How Much: $5,500 includes housing, group activities, ground transportation, breakfasts, and dinners
International group airfare from the east coast USA (~$1,500) and lunches not included.
Airports: East Coast USA (TBA) / Cape Town
Priority Application Date: March 12, 2016
Application Status: Canceled due to low interest – sorry!
Welcome to South Africa
Join Unschool Adventures and 10 other self-directed teens for an adventure of a lifetime. We designed the South Africa trip for first-time international travelers (seasoned travelers welcome too!) who are excited to get to know a totally different part of the world, stay in youth hostels, explore with new friends, spend lots of time outdoors, gain independent travel skills, and learn the history of a fascinating and complicated country.
On the U.A. South Africa adventure, you’ll:
- Climb mountains, jump into natural swimming holes, and hike along the southernmost coast of Africa
- Explore Cape Town—South Africa’s most cosmopolitan city—independently in small groups
- Spend time in a rural township and participate in a group volunteer project
- Learn the history of apartheid in South Africa by visiting some of its most significant historical sites in Johannesburg
- Take optional surfing lessons in Jeffrey’s bay, a world-renowned surf spot
- Go on safari in search of lions, hyenas, giraffe, and rhinoceri
- Travel across the country in the sleeper car of a train
- Relax, swim, and surf on South Africa’s beaches in the summer sun (because it’s summer there in November!)
If you’ve been hungering for a long-term international adventure with other for independent young people like yourself—this is it. Welcome to South Africa.
Week 1: Cape Town
Week 2: Rural Township
Homestay and group volunteering project in a rural township in the greater Cape Town area (details TBA).
Week 3: Johannesburg/Soweto
Ride the train (in a sleeper car) from Cape Town to Jo’burg. Stay in the up-and-coming Maboneng precinct and then Soweto township (where Nelson Mandela once lived). Visit the Apartheid Museum and landmarks on the Liberation Heritage Route.
Week 4: Safari + Wild Coast
2-day safari in Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Bus to the Wild Coast and relax beachside in the small hippie town of Coffee Bay.
Week 5: Wild Coast
2-day hike from Coffee Bay to Bulungula (with a homestay along the way). Stay at the remote, community-owned Bulungula Lodge among Xhosa villagers (read more). Bus to Jeffrey’s Bay to soak up the world-renowned surf culture and take optional surfing lessons.
Week 6: Cape Town
Bus to Cape Town. More independent city exploring and beach time. Bike to Simonstown to see African Penguins. Hike the beautiful Boesmanskloof trail and jump in its natural swimming hole. Closing meeting. Fly back to the east coast together (escorted by a trip leader) and fly home separately.
We expect gorgeous weather during our visit to South Africa—this is part of the reason that we planned the trip for this specific time period! (We also did so to avoid the busy tourist season which starts in early December.)
In Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Wild Coast, November highs are in the 70’s and lows are in the 50’s. Cape Town will have a a low chance of rainfall, Johannesburg a higher chance, and the Wild Coast somewhere in between. Get ready to enjoy a second summer!
Accommodations, Food, and Transportation
For most of the trip our group will stay in backpacker’s hostels. We typically rent out entire dorm rooms for our group, providing us with the safety and comfort of private accommodations alongside the social life, excitement, and resources of a hostel. For brief periods we may do homestays with local families. Participants will always receive their own beds, and rooms are grouped by sex whenever possible.
Unschool Adventures will provide breakfasts and dinners for participants every day of the trip. Breakfasts are typically simple—think cereal, milk, fruit, toast, and eggs—and will often be provided by the hostel. Dinners will typically be cooked from scratch by trip leaders with the volunteer assistance of participants. During homestays, all meals will be provided by host families.
Lunches are the responsibility of participants. This is a really fun part of each day! In urban areas, typically small groups (3+) of participants will venture out to find a cafe or restaurant that suits their fancy, or they’ll collaborate to save money by buying bulk foods from a supermarket. Sometimes lunches will be provided for you (e.g. during homestays), but we recommend you plan your budget as if you’ll be buying lunch every day. We suggest bringing $5-$10/day for lunches. Snacks are also the responsibility of the participant. Keep yourself well-fed; no one likes a hangry trip member!
We’ll use the Intercape bus system for transport along the wild coast and the Shosholoza Meyl train line to get from Cape Town to Jo’burg. Within cities we’ll walk and take public transport (local buses and trains).
Every day on an Unschool Adventures trip is different, but here’s a general idea of what to expect:
- 9 am: Breakfast (prepared by staff or hostel)
- 10 am: Group outing (e.g. hike, city exploration)
- 1 pm: Lunch (either together or separately in small groups)
- 2 pm: Group outing and/or free time for exploration
- 7 pm: Dinner (prepared by staff)
- 8 pm: Check-in, group meeting, and evening flex-time for games, group discussion, and relaxing
- 12am: Goodnight!
South Africa is a generally safe country with specifically identifiable areas of higher risk. Unschool Adventures utilizes local agents, reputable travel organizations, and time-tested guidebooks to create a well-researched and fundamentally safe itinerary. We monitor international events and our trip leaders are always contactable via their South African cell phones (not including brief periods in very remote locations, during which we’ll have a GPS device through which you can track our status online). Unschool Adventures has a perfect safety record, and we intend to keep it that way!
Our group will take the following specific precautions on this trip:
- Whenever a group ventures out independently (always in groups of 3 or larger), they will take a U.A. cell phone with South African SIM card with which they can contact trip leaders, other groups, or emergency services at any time.
- On safari, all participants will remain inside vehicles (i.e. no walking tours).
- In Johannesburg, we will travel as a single large group (i.e. no small group independent exploring) and not go out in the evenings.
- When given the opportunity to swim or surf on the coast, trip leaders will always vet the safety of the specific beach first.
- Participants interested in taking surf lessons must demonstrate strong swimming skills.
- We won’t visit known areas of high risk to Western travelers.
- U.A. trip leaders will hold onto participants’ passports at all times.