When you think of South Africa, safaris and exotic wildlife come to mind, but our members are encouraging travelers to explore six additional reasons to travel to the fascinating destination of South Africa. Africa’s southernmost country offers holidaymakers a diverse selection of experiences within a close proximity, stunning natural beauty, a temperate year-round climate, welcoming local people, a strong current economic value for American tourists, and an unexpected culinary and wine scene.


Credit: Austin Adventures

Here is just a sample of itineraries from USTOA member tour operators to explore these aspects.

Swain Destinations’ Swain’s Southern Africa itinerary explores the country’s many natural wonders. Guests will enjoy a Cape Peninsula tour, a trip to Victoria Falls, and a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Adventure seekers can white water raft on the Zambezi River and spot the Big Five at Sabi Sands. Tours of South Africa’s most famous cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg also are included in this 12-day trip. Available on select travel dates through December, 19, 2017 from $3,725 per person. www.swaindestinations.com


 Credit: Swain Destinations

Ascend to the top of Tabletop Mountain by cable car then hike back down while on the lookout for South African wildlife during Austin Adventures’ Southern Africa – Cape Town to Kruger itinerary. Then guests can bike through the historic town of Stellenbosch stopping for a wine tasting at nearby wine estates. Whale watching, a visit to Nelson Mandela’s maximum-security prison cell, Cape Town’s Green Market Square, and kayaking to Boulder Beach’s colony of African Penguins round out this diverse trip through South Africa. The 11-day itinerary is available year-round from $8,498 per person. www.austinadventures.com

South Africa Tours - Wine Tasting (2)

 Credit: Austin Adventures

Guests on smarTours’ Cape Town & Safari Express can save $500 per person on a nine-day South African vacation. An abundance of free time in Cape Town allows travelers to explore the vibrant city at their own pace. Options include beaches, shopping, taking a cable car to the top of Tabletop Mountain, and a boat ride across Table Bay to Robben Island. Then guests will go on an unforgettable game drive in Kruger National Park to spot the Big Five and other African wildlife. Savings of $500 per person available on the following departures: October 28, 2017, March 3, March 10 and March 24, 2018. www.smartours.com

Travel with a purpose on Collette’s South Africa Impact Tour to Make a Difference itinerary. The nine-day tour gives back to the Knysna Community through a selection of volunteer opportunities in the community and in a local school. Guests also will participate in a Hippo Roller delivery helping make water more accessible to a remote South African village. The trip also includes a cable car ride to the top of Tabletop Mountain, sample of the flavor of the region during a wine tasting in Stellenbosch, and learn the local beat with a lesson on the djembe drums. Available September 1-9, 2017 from $1,349 per person. www.gocollette.com

Adventurous travelers can swim with a great white shark during go-today’s Cape Town Escape with Great White Shark Encounter. The six-day itinerary is centered around the daring encounter and allows for ample free time to explore the vibrant city of Cape Town. Available July – August 2017 from $$1299 per person after $100 per person discount with promo code SUMMER. www.go-today.com


Credit: go-today

Tauck’s South Africa: An Elegant Adventure 12-day itinerary through South Africa is a Tauck Earth Journey offered in partnership with the nature documentary filmmakers at BBC Earth. During the tour guests will visit Boulders Beach to meet Africa’s indigenous penguins, hear a presentation by a gemologist in Johannesburg discussing the region’s role as one of the world’s leading source of diamonds, enjoy a wine-tasting dinner in the Cape Winelands, and more. This adventure is available year-round from $7,090 per person based on double occupancy. www.tauck.com

Guests looking to experience South Africa’s culinary delights can join Abercrombie & Kent’s South Africa: The Royal Portfolio Edition. The 12-day itinerary includes foraging for mussels with the Birkenhead House’s executive chef in preparation for your four-course gourmet dinner, a vertical tasting of South Africa’s premier Pinot Noirs and a private blending experience. Travelers also will visit a local family-run butchery and sample their traditional dried meat and of course spot the Big Five at Royal Malewane on Thornybush Private Game Reserve and much more. Available September 22-October 3, 2017 from $13,495 per person based on double occupancy. www.abercrombiekent.com

Discover South Africa’s Winelands region, tour the country’s most vibrant cities, and enjoy a full day Peninsula Tour during Goway Travel’s Secrets of the Cape itinerary. Scenic highlights on this trip include Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, and Robben Island. Guests also will participate in a full day safari to Inverdoon Game Reserve. This 10-day trip is available on departure dates June October 31, 2017. Travelers can save $2,000 per couple on select dates. www.goway.com

Feel the power of Victoria Falls, experience the classic luxury of Rovos Rail, and marvel at three UNESCO World Heritage Sites while on AHI Travel’s Southern Africa – Luxury Safaris, Rovos Rail and Cape Town itinerary. Guests also will have the opportunity for morning and afternoon game drives at Thornybush Nature Reserve, Chobe National Park and Hwange National Park. Now until July 25, 2017, guests can save $500 per person on various 2018 depatures from January-March 2018 and September-October 2018. Available from $6,745 per person including the discount. www.ahitravel.com

South Africa Tours - AHI Travel

 Credit: AHI Travel

Join SITA World Tours on its Affordable South Africa In-depth tour to discover South African favorites like an open-vehicle game drive at the Greater Kruger Park, city tours of Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the famous Cape Peninsula. During the itinerary guests also will feel the energy of the “Rainbow Nation” as they take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain then drive by the Malay Quarter, city center, Company Gardens and Castle of Good Hope. Travelers can book by August 31, 2017 and save $200 per couple. Departure dates available June 28 – December 19, 2017. Prices from $3,175 per person based on double occupancy. www.sitatours.com


 Credit: SITA World Tours

Adventures by Disney’s 10-day South Africa Destination package. This African adventure gives families a chance to take a three-day safari through the Kapama Game Reserve, hike in the Featherbed Nature Reserve, and more. Guests also can meet the African penguins at the Cape of Good Hope. Departure dates are available from October 7, 2017 to Dec. 22, 2018. Prices start at $7,099 per adult and $6,719 per child. www.adventuresbydisney.com

South Africa Tours - Adventure by Disney

 Credit: Adventures by Disney

Marvel at South Africa’s natural wonders on Globus’ 12-day Splendors of South Africa & Victoria Falls itinerary. Table Mountain, Cape Point Nature Reserve, and Victoria Falls are some of the stunning sites that await guests during this trip. Guests also will visit Bo-Kaap, an area founded by former slaves to learn more about their culture and visit Johannesburg’s unforgettable Apartheid Museum and more. Available January 7 and February 11, 2018. Visit www.globusjourneys.com for pricing information.

Monograms’ South African Sojourn brings travelers on an adventure to some of South Africa’s most iconic sites. Guests will stay in a lodge on a private game reserve while heading out multiple times in search of Africa’s Big Five. Additionally, guests will visit the beautiful Cape Point Nature Reserve home to Cape Point, the southwesternmost point on the continent and Boudlers Beach to see a colony of African penguins. Available for daily departures from October to December 2017 excluding September from $2,399 per person. www.monograms.com

CroisiEurope America’s new ship, African Dream, will be inaugurated December 2017 and will offer a nine-day journey on its Southern Africa: Travel to the Ends of the Earth itinerary. The land, cruise and safari trip will feature land and water safaris, and the opportunity to hear a local storyteller as they entrance guests with the legends of the region. Travelers also will enjoy a traditional dinner under the African skies on Impalila Island. This trip starts at $6,319 per person and is available in December 2017 and various dates throughout 2018. www.croisieuroperivercruises.com

Inspiration awaits guests on African Travel Inc.’s In the Footsteps of Mandela itinerary. The eight-day journey through the vibrant “Rainbow Nation” takes travelers through the history of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa with a collection of moving encounters with the people and places he touched. While exploring Nelson Mandela’s legacy, guests also will see the award-winning museum at Liliesleaf, once a secret nerve center of the liberation movement, along with the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The trip will end with a safari in Kruger Private Reserve. This itinerary is available from $3,095 per person with departure dates throughout 2017. www.africantravelinc.com

Shamwari Game Reserve Guest Experience

 Credit: African Travel

Worldwide Traveler is taking guests on a culinary trip through South Africa on its Wine and Dine in South Africa itinerary. Foodies will enjoy a Cape Malay Cooking Safari before heading to the Winelands Region where they will taste wine from local farms Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Guests also will take a Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour and includes visits to Table Mountain, Robben Island and Kruger National Park. The 13-day adventure is available through December 31, 2017, this culinary trip starts at $1,419 per person land only. www.worldwidetraveler.com

Swim with great white sharks off the South African coast for a bucket list worthy experience during Great Value Vacations’ Coastal Adventure: Shark Cage Diving & Safari. Offering a wide variety of excursions during the 12-night itinerary, guests will visit wineries, stroll through the streets of Cape Town, whale watch and do a shark cage diving tour and safari. This mix of South Africa’s best land and sea activities is available from $3,963 per person for various departure dates throughout 2017. www.greatvaluevacations.com

cape vinyards

 Credit: Great Value Vacations

Cox & Kings, The Americas offers guests a chance to experience the luxurious side of South Africa on its Southern Africa: Winelands, Safari & Falls private journey. Explore Cape Town, set between two oceans and stunning mountains, before setting out on a game drive in Kruger National Park. Guests also will enjoy a private tour of Victoria Falls and a thrilling helicopter flight along the Zambezi River and over the cascades. Guests can save $1,000 per couple on this itinerary for bookings made September 1 – 30, 2017 with travel completed by March 31, 2018. Prices from $7,345 per couple land only. www.coxandkingsusa.com

South Africa Tours - Cox & Kings

 Credit: Cox & Kings, The Americas

Travelers can soak in the natural beauty of South Africa’s most iconic sites during Ritz Tours’ South Africa Highlights & Safari Experience. Guests will enjoy the splendor of Table Mountain, panoramic views of Cape Town and the country’s dramatic coastline. A trip to the Entabeni Private Nature Reserve will showcase the conservatory’s multitude of landscapes including grassy plains, wetlands and ravines. The trip will conclude with a trip to Johannesburg to learn about the city’s history at sites like the Apartheid Museum or Constitution Hill and the Old Fort Prison Complex. This nine-day trip starts at $1,900 per person and is available on departure dates through the end of 2017. www.ritztours.com

South Africa Tours - Ritz Tours


Editor’s Note: Information was correct at time of writing. All tours/packages subject to availability. Prices may vary from time of writing, based on currency fluctuations.

By: Terry Dale, President and CEO, USTOA


The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) recognizes the power of giving back, learning from different cultures and using travel as a tool for transformation. USTOA is proud to be a Strategic Association Partner of Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization that works to protect and restore attractions and destinations around the world. Last year, hundreds of industry professionals gathered to restore, refurbish and replant at four national parks throughout the country. This year, Tourism Cares will be spearheading urban renewal projects to revive tourist sites in Oakland, CA, Detroit, MI, Providence, RI and Toronto, ON.

Similarly, many of our Tour Operator members offer cultural immersion programs for travelers that allow them to participate in community-driven efforts as well as different kinds of transformational travel experiences.

The ME to WE Foundation, a charitable organization, works with a number of USTOA tour operator members including Uniworld River Cruises, Lion World Travel, and Insight Vacations to help travelers leave a positive footprint and give back with their purchase.

Transformational Travel- India

Credit: Insight Vacations

Uniworld River Cruises offers guests the chance to travel with a purpose during its ME to WE India Pre-Trip Extension. Travelers will work alongside local families in the Rajasthan region on a community development project in partnership with WE Charity. The extension also includes a guided walk through the Aravalli Mountain Range and daily yoga sessions. This five-day extension is available on Uniworld’s Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges 13-day river cruise on various dates throughout January, February, March, September, October, November and December 2017 and 2018. Prices range from $2,075 – $2,850 per person for the pre-tip extension only. www.Uniworld.com

Transformational Travel - Uniworld

 Credit: Uniworld River Cruises

During the ME to WE Volunteer Adventure to Kenya, Lion World Travel and ME to WE offer travelers a chance to make a difference in the Maasai Mara community. Participants will help build a new school with the area’s indigenous people and join the women of the Maasai and Kispigis communities to learn the craft of beading. This tradition is passed down through generations, empowering them to earn a sustainable income and provide for their families. Additionally, ME to WE donates 50% of its net profits to WE Charity, meaning every trip contributes to international development efforts in the community guests visit. Available year-round and can be booked as an extension to another Lion World Travel itinerary in east Africa or as a custom trip. Prices from $2195 per adult. www.lionworldtravel.com

Transformational Travel- Kenya

 Credit: Lion World Travel

Insight Vacations and ME to WE partner to take travelers on a transformational journey to India is the ME to WE Volunteer Adventure to India extension to Insight’s Imperial Rajasthan itinerary. Guests will dive deeper into the rural culture of Rajasthan during the four-day excursion as they work with a local community in Udaipur on a development project like laying the bricks for a school or digging a new clean water system, try your hand at age-old traditional crafts like tie-dying and block printing and much more. Travelers also will explore the Aravalli Mountain Range and participate in local sightseeing excursions. Available year-round from $1,375 per adult. www.insightvacations.com

India (1)

 Credit: Insight Vacations

Transformational travel can take many different forms, and our Tour Operator members provide guests with truly immersive local experiences that enhance a trip with deeper insights in cultures and customs. For example, during Trafalgar’s Secrets of Myanmar trip travelers take part in a traditional lamp lighting ceremony at the Shwedagon Pagoda, and get to know three generations of family members over a home-cooked meal in Bagan. Guests also can participate in a hands-on cooking class using vegetables they gather for a traditional lunch. Available May 31 – June 10, September 27 – October 7, November 29 – December 9, December 20 – 30 2017 starting from $3,150 per person. www.trafalgar.com

Trafalgar - Transformational Travel

Credit: Trafalgar

Guests of Tauck’s Essence of Japan itinerary will go beyond learning about Japanese history and culture and will join in as they learn how to make sushi, and attend workshops on Japanese flower arranging, ceramics and glass-blowing. The trip also includes a traditional tea ceremony, a sumo wrestling demonstration and a sake tasting. The 13-day immersion into traditional Japanese culture starts at $9,990 per person based on double occupancy, plus airfare. Available in May, June, August, September, October, and November 2017. www.tauck.com

Transformational Travel

Credit: Tauck

Visit a local farming village in rural Hoi An to learn traditional farming techniques or go paddling in bamboo basket boats on Wendy Wu Tours’ Vietnam & Cambodia 21-Day Discovery Tour. Guests looking to open their minds to new skills also will get the chance to learn how to make a fishing net before staying in a local homestay in Ben Tre. This itinerary starts at $5,090 per person (air-inclusive) and is available in September, October and November 2017 and throughout 2018. www.wendywutours.com

Adventure meets education on Quark Expeditions’ Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the seventh Continent itinerary. Guests will explore the Antarctic Peninsula and learn about its environment and wildlife from on-board lecturers and specialists. Camping, kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing and more is available in Antarctica during this trip to the southern tip of the world. Discover the seventh continent from November 2017 to March 2018 from $5,595, with up to 25% discount on select voyages. www.quarkexpeditions.com.

Travelers can put a spring in their step during Brendan Vacations’ The Irish Experience itinerary as they traverse north and south through Ireland. Educational and interactive, guests will learn the history of Belfast from a local Cabbie before visiting the Cliffs of Moher, and the UNESCO World Heritage site at the Giant’s Causeway. A city tour of Dublin and a scenic drive along the Ring of Kerry also await guests on this 11-day trip. Available July 26 and 30, August 13, September 24 and 25, October 1, 8 and 15, 2017 from $2,150 USD per person. www.brendanvacations.com


Editor’s Note: Information was correct at time of writing. All tours/packages subject to availability. Prices may vary from time of writing, based on currency fluctuations.