South Africa: The Arts of Democracy and Disruption with Pam McClusky

Departures: South Africa

The Arts of Democracy and Disruption in South Africa

South African artists are renowned for their creative force. Today, a visit to South Africa showcases the many ways that artists have helped to transform the country. Unusual museums, dynamic galleries, and artists working in inventive mediums abound. This tour will focus on two cities filled with places and people who have faced the changes in their country and guide everyone to see beneath the surface of the news. We’ll visit with artists, learn about sustaining craft cooperatives, spend time in a variety of galleries and walk through a sculpture park near the Cradle of Humankind. From the most ancient ancestors to the latest progressive inventors, South Africans have many insights to offer.
Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art at the Seattle Art Museum, will accompany the group.


We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, our donation will go to a non-profit organization we support that is having a very positive impact around the world: PATH— which is working on HIV/AIDS screening, treatments as well as women’s health.


Starting at $3690*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.


January 17 — 28, 2018

12 Days, 11 Nights

Day 1 – 3

Depart for Cape Town

Depart Seattle for Cape Town. Lose one day due to time change and travel. Upon arrival you’ll be met and assisted through immigration, baggage collection and customs. Transfer to your lovely hotel along the classic V&A waterfront.

Scenically beautiful, Cape Town is a compelling mix of trendy modern and old-world elegance. Contemporary art is to be seen in a variety of galleries, and in museums that are defined to suit the need for collecting memories of the apartheid past and moving on to new issues.

Day 4

City Tour & Zeitz

Explore the city of Cape Town, starting with the Houses of Parliament and other city landmarks, including Table Mountain, affording us spectacular views over the city and the peninsula (weather dependent). Our final stop is at Bo-Kaap, home to the Cape Malay community, with its cobbled streets and brightly colored houses.

In the afternoon we’ll visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, a new landmark destination for the African continent. We’ll be able to tour the galleries and talk with the curatorial team about their work in this cutting-edge institution.

This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with the group.

Day 5

Gallery & Artist Visits

In the morning, visits will include a balance of older, well-established galleries with those that have emerged in the last decade.

In the afternoon, we’ll arrange studio visits, possibly to include a visit with Athi Patra Ruga, Nicholas Hlobo, Bernie Searle, Willie Bester, Penny Siopsis, and others. This will fluctuate based on their schedules but always promises to be a highlight.

Day 6

Cooking & District Six Museum

Spend the morning learning to cook traditional South African food with budding chefs at Amy’s Bistro.

After lunch, visit the District Six Museum. Established in December 1994, the museum works with the memories of the District Six experience and forced removals more generally. Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants, over time, removals and marginalization led to the district being declared a white-only area.

Day 7

Art for the Home

Start the day with a trip to a classic museum with a contemporary twist—the South African National Gallery. Founded with a hierarchy based on European models, the gallery now focuses more attention on the exceptional beadwork, carving, baskets, and art of the majority population.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit another artist in their studio, then take in the work of a few design and craft art companies in South Africa. Many of these studios are established with a goal of financial and social sustainability for artists who don’t live in the cities but remain in rural areas.

Day 8

Cape Town—Johannesburg

Following breakfast, check out and depart for Cape Town International Airport and your flight to Johannesburg. On our way to the hotel, we’ll stop for lunch and a visit to the Apartheid Museum, where history is presented in an interactive way that starts at the door, separating everyone into “whites” and “non-whites”.

After our museum visit, arrive at our hotel, surrounded by lush green gardens.

During the evening, a visiting guest speaker will come to the hotel and lead a discussion about the state of contemporary art in South Africa.

Day 9


Morning visit at two galleries that appeal to very different aesthetic senses.

Afternoon visit to the WITS Museum and the Origins Center, both on the campus of the University of Witwatersrand. The WITS is widely respected for its innovative exhibitions while the Origins Center promotes awareness of the deep history of the region, including recent research about the San (Bushmen). Throughout the facility, artists were given the task of transforming ideas into displays illustrating new ways of thinking about history.

Day 10


After breakfast, head to the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind. The Sterkfontein Caves were discovered in 1896 and are now regarded as one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. Nearby, visit Maropeng–a vast underground visitor attraction which tells the story of the Cradle of Humankind.

After lunch, we’ll stop by the Nirox Sculpture Gardens, where we’ll walk through an environment full of reflective moments accented by diverse notions of sculpture. It has an idyllic artist residency space and open-air display area that accommodates large events. We’ll be there on a quiet day, so we will bring an artist along to guide us around.

Day 11

Galleries & Goodbyes

Start the morning at Stevenson Gallery downtown, another internationally recognized gallery representing major artists like Zanele Muholi, Edson Chagas, Penny Siopis, Nicholas Hlobo, Zander Blom, and Nandipha Mntambo. We will meet with their curators and visit a couple of artist’s studios.

Afternoon stops at David Krut Projects, SMAC, WhatiftheWorld and Everard Read, the oldest gallery in the area. Gallery MOMO, run by Monna Mokoena, who shows the works of Mary Sibande, Blessing Ngobeni, and Ayana Jackson is also in the area.

This evening we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Day 12


After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport for flights home or extend your stay in South Africa!

Optional Extensions

Take in the Cape of Good Hope on a two-night pre-trip extension that includes a full day visit to the Cape, with a short wine tasting on the way back to Cape Town. Enjoy the magnificent Stellenbosch Winelands with a visit to the Cape of Good Hope on a five-night pre-trip extension.

A trip to South Africa isn’t complete without a visit to premier Kruger National Park, where you may encounter the Big Five up close. Choose from two different camps on our four-night post-trip extensions. For those who enjoy a longer, off-the-beaten-path experience, travel to KwaZulu-Natal on our six-night post-trip extension. Start in Durban, where Gandhi once lived, cruise Lake Jozini, visit a Zulu village and finish on safari at a beautiful community-run lodge in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park, home of Operation Rhino.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.