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South Africa 12 Day Cultural Journey/Conservation Expedition

South Africa 12 Day Cultural Journey/Conservation Expedition

South Africa 12 Day Cultural Journey/Conservation Expedition

Dates: TBD  |  Tuition: Request A Quote Tuition Details

Group Organizer/s: 

Your contact info here.

SSA Contact: 

Will Loyd, Will@SmithsonianSA.com, 303-519-6908

Deadlines: TBD

Request a Quote

SAMPLE PROGRAM PAGE: This is an example of what your private program webpage and itinerary might look like, as you decide to organize a program with us. Please begin by reviewing the suggested itinerary listed under the Pre-Enrollment tab, and then feel free to read through other sections to get a sense of the in-depth information and support we provide for all programs.

Program Highlights

View Full Itinerary

Smithsonian Student Adventures was created through a collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution and Walking Tree Travel. Although this video is branded as Walking Tree Travel, it encapsulates the mission and spirit that is present in all SSA programming.

Important Program Details

Click on the sections above to learn more

Sample Itinerary

Once you have decided on a program itinerary, we will upload the day by day descriptions here.

Philosophy Of Travel

Our mission is to inspire the next generation to become global leaders by taking an active interest in the world around them. With a dedication to learning, along with an enduring passion for exploring the world, Smithsonian Student Adventures designs transformative and meaningful travel programs that uncover the authentic culture of each destination and inspire students to take action in their local and global community.

Smithsonian Student Adventures stands for a more open, curious, and compassionate approach to travel. We partner with select schools around the world to provide memorable small-group experiences, and invest in cultivating and maintaining longterm relationships with our partner communities. If you are interested in our organization and philosophy of travel, click here to learn more about us.


SSA partners with locally-operated, three star or equivalent hotels that are clean, safe, centrally located, and provide modern amenities. Below are a few examples of our partner hotels. Although these are our preferred providers, they are subject to change based on availability. Your final itinerary will provide complete information on your accommodations in the cities you will be visiting.

Cape Town: www.backpackers.co.za/

Johannesburg: www.joburgbackpackers.com/

Pilanesberg Reserve: www.manyaneresort-pilanesberg.com/rooms/

Standards of Behavior

SSA provides fun, safe, and meaningful programs for our travelers. In order to achieve this goal, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct. Any of the following are grounds for early dismissal or in-country consequences at our discretion.


  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.


  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials
  3. Threatening with or using weapons such as firearms, knives, explosives, etc.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle
  5. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew
  6. Breaking group rules

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of a travel program. Please take the time to review these rules as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them before choosing to travel with SSA.

Tuition & Fundraising

When you travel with Smithsonian Student Adventures, your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s nineteen museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions. Tuition details are below:

Tuition Includes:
Smithsonian Custom Group Travel Tuition includes icons

Tuition Excludes:
Baggage fees, airline minor fees, personal shopping, passport or visa fees, and activities not listed on the itinerary.

Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

We believe that cost should not prevent enthusiastic students from having the opportunity to join an SSA program. We are pleased to offer opportunities for fundraising and payment plans to help make this goal a reality. Please visit our Tuition and Funding page to find out more about tuition, fundraising, payment options, referral discounts, and more.

Visit Tuition & Funding

Passport & Visa Check

Passport must be valid for six months after the final day of your travel program, including one open visa page.
No Visa Requirements for US Citizens traveling to South Africa.

Non US citizens should check with their country’s embassy abroad to verify vaccination and visa requirements.
US citizens traveling from a country other than the United States should check the State Department website (www.travel.state.gov) for more information regarding additional visa or vaccine requirements.

Please contact SSA for further information regarding vaccination and visa requirements.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC South Africa website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. SSA will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

In the event your program includes shark-cage diving, please consider the following risk mitigation measures before embarking on your adventure. The following will be reiterated in a more in-depth orientation before your dive.

Safety Guidelines for Shark-Cage Diving:

Safety is our number one priority, and the organizations we work with that provide shark-cage diving experiences have been vetted and have exceptional safety records. We realize that the idea of diving with sharks can be scary, but it in fact is a very regulated and safe experience. Below are some basic safety guidelines when participating in this activity.

Sea sickness – Take motion sickness medication one day before diving and again two hours before your trip. Eat a good meal before your boat ride.

Slipping on the boat – All boats on our tours have non-slip surfaces, but it’s a good idea to wear closed-toed shoes or water shoes with proper grip while traveling.

Falling overboard – This can be avoided when participants hold on to the boat railings during travel. It is also recommended that participants refrain from leaning over the edge of the boat for any reason.

Shark cage – The bars of the cage are not wide enough for any shark to enter. However, participants must keep their hands and feet inside the cage at all times. Feeding of sharks or marine life is also prohibited.


Travel Insurance

Our experience has taught us that international travel can sometimes be unpredictable. As such, SSA will purchase basic secondary travel and medical insurance for all SSA travelers via Travel Insured International. This service provides the following coverage at no additional cost to our participants:


$500 Return Airfare for Trip Interruption
$750 ($150 per day) Trip Delay of six hours or more
$500 (Three or more hours) Missed Connection
$1500 ($250 per article) Baggage/Personal Effects
$300 Baggage Delay – 24 hours
$25,000 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
$100,000 Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Emergency Assistance Non-insurance Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services Included

Once you have been accepted onto your program, SSA will be in touch regarding this insurance and other additional options (see below).


The following additional optional coverage upgrades are available upon request for an additional premium charge to the traveler. For further information on the premiums associated with these optional coverage enhancements, please email your inquiry to our travel insurance program administrator, Hayashi Insurance Solutions: travelinsurance@jshinsurance.com

– Trip Cancellation Coverage – Reimburses the traveler up to the trip cost insured up to a maximum of $10,000 per person if the trip must be cancelled for unforeseeable life events including but not limited to; medical/health reasons, bereavement, etc.

– Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) – Reimburses the traveler for 75% of the non-refundable trip cost. Cancellation must be made 48 hours or more prior to scheduled departure. Must be purchased at the same time as initial plan purchase and prior to final trip payment. *This benefit is not available to residents of New York State.

The Plan is administered by Hayashi Insurance Solutions (CA DOI 0F61680) a licensed Insurance Agency authorized to transact this insurance under the express authority of Travel Insured International, Inc. and its representatives, and on behalf of Walking Tree Travel, Inc. The Plan contains insurance benefits underwritten by the United States Fire Insurance Company. Fairmont Specialty and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A (Excellent) by AM Best Company 2015. The Plan also contains non insurance Travel Assistance Services that are provided by an independent organization, OnCall International, and not by United States Fire Insurance Company or Travel Insured International. Review the Plan Document for complete terms, including benefits, conditions, limitations and exclusions that apply. Coverages may vary and not all coverage is available in all jurisdictions.

Global Leadership Curriculum

Walking Tree Travel has developed a curriculum that helps SSA travelers mature as global leaders before, during, and after their travel program. These simple, engaging tools are meant to spark discussion, frame the experience, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on our programs and in the future.

For more information about student learning objectives and format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit Walking Tree’s online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Language Resources


Want to learn a new language and be better prepared for your travel program? Duolingo is the easiest, most entertaining way to start learning and using a new language right away! The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to communicate with locals in your host country and help your fellow travelers navigate a foreign environment.

Tap the Duolingo owl to get started, or download the app to your mobile phone.

duolingo owl logo

Group Flight Information

Program participants will meet the group organizer at the below airline check-in counter three hours before the departure flight. If you have trouble locating the group, please notify your group organizer or contact SSA.




Air travel is unpredictable. Although we can ensure that our groups arrive to the airport with ample time and follow all airline instructions, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical problems, labor strikes, etc. Please note that in such an event SSA is not financially responsible for unexpected costs incurred by travelers. Our programs officially begin and end in our host countries. That being said, our travelers’ well-being and safety is our number one priority, so please know that should flight delays/cancellations occur we will do everything we can to get travelers home in a timely manner and will do our best to keep family members updated on developments.

SSA is not responsible for fees associated with checked baggage. Please also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the final day in country.

Please confirm with your air travel provider as some airlines may require that travelers under a certain age have completed an unaccompanied minor parental consent form. Please consult the airline website to confirm if this is required on your flight.

Leader Profile

SSA will send a minimum of one experienced Program Leader on every program. In addition to this Program Leader, we also have a support staff in our host countries and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado that are available to the group for additional help when necessary. Below you’ll find a list of the Smithsonian Student Adventures staff involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

  • Gregg Brill
    Gregg Brill South Africa Operations

    Rhodes University – Bsc in Environmental Science and Icthyology
    Stellenbosch University – MSc in Environmental Science
    University of Cape Town – PhD in Environmental Science

    Gregg Brill was born in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and spent much of his childhood brought up on a dairy farm. It was here that a keen interest in nature was foundered. Gregg has undertaken numerous environmental and social projects around the world, including turtle conservation in Madagascar, coral reef rehabilitation in the Seychelles, revegetation initiatives in Thailand and South Africa, as well as wildlife management and conservation in South Africa and Australia. Gregg has travelled to over 50 countries across six continents, and has lived in four of them.

    Group Roster

    Please have all travelers check below to ensure their name is spelled exactly how it appears on your passport. For edits, email lacey@SmithsonianSA.com.


    Community & Project Details

    This is where your host community information will appear, along with your community project, if applicable to your program.

    Communication & Blog

    The easiest way for students to keep in touch with family and friends at home while traveling will be using Wifi (available at most hotels and some restaurants) via Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, and Wechat for free.

    SSA tries to keep families and friends updated as frequently as possible with text and photo blogs. If parents would like updates regarding the group beyond these blog posts and email updates, they should direct all general inquiries to info@SmithsonianSA.com. We are always checking this email inbox and will respond promptly to inquiries. You can also reach us by dialing 303-242-8541 from the U.S.

    Here is the link to your blog: -Coming Soon-

    Packing List

    What follows is a guideline, but you know yourself better than we do so please modify as you see fit. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a backpack, roller or duffel bag and a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

    Please note that seasons in Southern Africa are opposite ours in the United States so we will be traveling during South Africa’s winter. Layering is the best way to prepare for variable conditions, as it will be chilly (55-70 degrees fahrenheit) during the early morning and nighttime, and hot (up to mid-nineties fahrenheit).

    South Africa Packing List

    10 pairs of underwear
    10 pairs of socks (a mixture of good athletic socks and casual socks)
    4-7 t-shirts (some quick dry)
    2-3 long sleeve/button up shirts
    1-2 sweater/sweatshirts
    1 warmer jacket
    1 warmer hat
    1 rain jacket
    1-3 pairs of shorts
    4-5 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans (plan to re-wear jeans more than one day)
    1 nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
    1 pair/s of durable athletic/walking shoes, appropriate for lots of walking
    1 pair nicer shoes (optional, though Cape Town is a pretty fashionable city)
    1 hat with good sun protection

    Toiletries: Bring the BASIC toiletries you need plus:
    Band Aids and Neosporin, basic first aid
    Hand Sanitizer
    Medication in properly marked original container (better to pack this in your carry on luggage)

    Journal and pen (required)
    Small Alarm Clock separate from phone (required)
    Durable water bottle (required)
    Watch (required)
    Flashlight/headlamp (required)
    Small binoculars
    Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
    Electrical Adapter/Converter. South Africa uses a 3-prong Type M plug. Transformer necessary if electronic device doesn’t have one built in.
    Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-150 in newer bills, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
    1 quick-dry towel
    Deck of cards or other portable games
    Student ID

    Tuition Details

    more tuition information

    Tuition is an estimate until dates and itinerary are finalized. 

    When you travel with Smithsonian Student Adventures, your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s nineteen museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

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