Alumni Day and Service
February 24, 2018
49th Reunion, 2018:
May 31-June 3, 201850th Reunion, 2019
May 30-June 2, 2019
51st Reunion, 2020
May 28-31, 2020
Class of '69 South Africa mini-Reunion
February 21 - March 1, 2018
South Africa is a country of stunning natural beauty and rich cultural diversity, with a compelling history in many aspects reminiscent of our own. Not long ago, there were those around the world who thought that South Africa’s future was indeed dire and who could not have imagined that South Africa would successfully transition from an oppressive political system to the democracy, still young and not without its problems, that the country enjoys today.
Our next class mini-reunion will explore these and other aspects of today’s South Africa. The eight-day core itinerary will focus on Cape Town and the nearby Winelands. We will visit sites of historical interest, remote and more recent, while not ignoring the scenic beauty of the Cape Peninsula (Sir Francis Drake’s “fairest cape in all the world”), the exotic and varied indigenous flora, and the exquisite culinary and oenological experiences in which the Cape justifiably takes pride.
As with all our past mini-reunions, this one will have a central underlying theme: South Africa’s Transition from Apartheid to Democracy: The State of the Nation Twenty-Six Years Down the Road. To guide us in this exploration, we are privileged to have as our intellectual leader John Matisonn, a long-time observer of the political scene and an early and forceful advocate for press freedom in South Africa. A founding councilor of South Africa’s Independent Broadcasting Authority and Executive Editor for Elections at the South African Broadcasting Corporation in the run-up to Nelson Mandela’s election as President, he has now been called back to the SABC as an interim board member in the wake of allegations of corruption and malfeasance on the part of the previous board. He has also previously served as Chairman of the United Nations Electoral Commission in Afghanistan. His name and voice will be familiar to many of us, however, from his role as National Public Radio’s South African correspondent during the turbulent late 80’s and early 90’s. John has recently published a book, God, Spies and Lies: Finding South Africa’s Future through its Past, a comprehensive treatise on the political history of the past half century with a special emphasis on the print and broadcast media. John will spend the week with us, giving some formal presentations with Q&A as well as being available for more intimate conversation.
We will also visit and stay in the Winelands, South Africa’s wine country, located 50 km from Cape Town for two days. While there, we will sample some exquisite wines, paired with local cuisine, at several wine estates, but will also tour the historically Afrikaans university town of Stellenbosch, and view the Taal Monument in Paarl, an iconic tribute to the language and culture of the Afrikaans people. John, who lives in Franschhoek, the “foodie capital” of the Western Cape, will also accompany us on this portion of the trip.
It is a long journey to visit South Africa, and there is so much to see. For those who desire more than the core itinerary offers, we have also planned a “Prequel”, centered around Johannesburg and Pretoria, and a four night “Sequel” along the Garden Route that will include a two-day safari in the malaria-free Eastern Cape.
The Prequel will focus on key political and historical events leading up to the transition to the new South Africa, township life, and the important role the gold mining industry has played in South African history. You may even choose to go down deep within a gold mine, but no free samples! There is also the possibility of a side trip to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage site, where extensive fossils of early hominids have been found. Depending on availability, some may want to leave the Prequel early in order to travel by luxury train to Cape Town, while others will complete the itinerary of the Prequel and fly to Cape Town for the start of the Core Itinerary.
The Sequel will take us into the Little Karoo, a semi-desert area enriched by the ostrich feather boom of the early 20th century, and then along the lush Garden Route, nestled between the imposing Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean. The Sequel will conclude with two days “in the bush” at the luxurious Amakhala Game Reserve, viewing lion, rhino, elephants, as well as many smaller and less threatening species close up in their natural environment. For many visitors to South Africa, a safari experience is the highlight of their trip. While the Prequel itinerary is still in the planning stages, the Garden Route Sequel itinerary is ready to go, and we will be seeking deposits from those who are interested in the Core Trip and the Sequel. For the Prequel, at this stage, we just need an indication of interest for planning purposes.
The cost for the core trip (excluding hotels in Cape Town, international and domestic airfares, and optional luxury train fares as described below) is payable to the Class and will be approximately $2,750 per person, double occupancy, which includes hotels in the Winelands (2 nights), almost all lunches and dinners (see included itinerary), local coach transportation, venue and guide costs, intellectual leadership, communications support, emergency medical insurance and the wine tastings. All participants will need to arrange their own transportation to and from South Africa, as well as domestic flights and/or trains within South Africa that mesh with their international transportation arrangements. We have selected and blocked rooms at three hotels located close to one another in the Waterfront area of Cape Town (the Table Bay, the Mount Nelson and the Commodore) from which to choose for the six nights in Cape Town. The cost of Cape Town hotels is not included in the base cost of the trip indicated above. The optional rail journey from Pretoria to Cape Town, if availability exists, will also be separate from the base trip costs, as will domestic airfare from Johannesburg to Cape Town and, for those on the Sequel, from Port Elizabeth to either Cape Town or Johannesburg on the way home.
We ask that you make your Cape Town hotel arrangements through Green Route Africa, our travel consultants. When we confirm your registration for the trip, we will provide their contact information so you can book your hotel promptly. Green Route is also available to help with domestic flight and train bookings. The hotels we have selected in Cape Town are all first class accommodations and close enough to each other so that transportation arrangements can be conveniently managed. We cannot guarantee on-site pick-up and drop-off for our touring activities if you are not in the hotels we have selected. They were chosen considering both convenience and security issues.
We recognize the hotels are expensive ($375 to $670 per night inclusive of breakfast and taxes, depending on hotel and room grade), but February is the peak time of year for visiting Cape Town. Economy round-trip airfare from major East Coast points to Cape Town is presently about $1,000-$1,500. The total cost of economy airfare from the East Coast, hotels in Cape Town and incidental expenses should be in the range of $3,000 to $3900 per person, double occupancy, based on arrival Wednesday, February 21 and departure Thursday, March 1. This would make the total cost of the core trip approximately $5,800 to $6,700 per person with economy class air fare, depending on hotel option chosen, consistent with the estimates provided in the initial survey of interest. The premium for a single traveler in a separate hotel room will be in the range of $190 to $335 per night (again dependent on hotel room chosen), and the registration procedure provides for single travelers to request a roommate.
The cost for the Garden Route Sequel will be approximately $2,000 per person, double occupancy, which covers all costs except for discretionary gratuities for the Game Rangers in the Park. By signing up you accept that the final costs could be slightly more or less. The final number will depend to some extent on how many people participate.
A $500 per person deposit is required with registration for the Core Trip and $250 per person for the Garden Route Sequel. The balance will be called for toward the end of the year. At this point we have a high level of confidence in the arrangements for this exciting trip. If for any reason it becomes necessary to cancel, the unexpended part of the deposits will be refunded. But all participants should know that expenditures are required beginning almost immediately, and we can make no assurance about refund of deposits in the event of cancellation. If you withdraw from the trip a full refund will be guaranteed only if we can fill your slot(s). We will, of course, make best efforts to accommodate any personal hardships that arise unexpectedly.
As with our previous overseas minis, once registration is in hand we will be sending out periodic bulletins with information of interest and various further requirements. We will also announce arrangements for the Johannesburg Prequel, including details on the optional luxury two-day rail trip (the Blue Train) between Pretoria and Cape Town for those who are interested. Please indicate when completing your registration if you would like us to block a suite for you on the train (subject to availability and your firm booking at a later date when details are announced). For advanced planning, we expect to arrange transport directly from our last hotel in the Winelands to Cape Town International Airport on Thursday, March 1, for those wishing to fly home that day.
You should be in generally good health and physical condition to get the most out of this trip. While we will cover longer distances by bus, there will also be some extensive walking, some of which will be fairly strenuous. However, accommodation can be made for anyone with mobility issues.
The registration procedure is as follows:
• We are limited to a maximum of 80 for the core trip by the bus and the accommodations at several of the hotels and restaurants we will visit. Each classmate may sign up for a maximum of two spots unless we find that we have excess capacity.
• Registration on the Class website (click here) will open at noon on Monday, July 10. Website registration is strongly recommended since based on the survey it is possible that the trip will fill up quickly. You may also sign up by completing and returning the registration form included in this package with your deposit check to our registrar Ken Mertz at the address on the form. The sign-up priorities will be set by time of registration on the website or receipt of the mailed registration form with deposit check. Mailed registrations that arrive before noon on July 10 will be counted as having arrived at that time.
• If the trip becomes fully subscribed we will build an ordered wait list using the same procedures. Deposits for waitlisted folks that cannot ultimately be accommodated will be fully refunded. You may withdraw from the waitlist and receive a refund at any time.
• When registration opens on July 10, Ken Mertz will begin sending out e-mails confirming registrations. Once you receive a confirmation it is essential that you book your hotel in Cape Town through Green Route Africa promptly for the nights of February 21-26 and any additional nights that you may wish to stay in Cape Town prior to the 21st. Our blocks on these rooms expire shortly after registration closes on July 24.
• Be sure to indicate your interest in the Johannesburg Prequel and the Garden Route Sequel when you register. If you are interested in the Sequel, you should make a deposit of $250 per person along with your registration for the main portion of the trip. This information is important for further planning. Also, single travelers should indicate if they would like to be matched with a roommate.
• If you are interested in the Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town in connection with the Prequel, please so indicate when registering. At this time only 8 berths are available on the train which departs Pretoria February 19. We will use this information to attempt to reserve one of those berths, subject to reconfirmation when details of the Prequel are announced.
Princeton Class of 1969 South Africa Mini-Reunion
Core Itinerary: Cape Town and the Winelands
February 21 - March 1, 2018
Wednesday, Feb 21:
- Arrive at Cape Town International Airport to be met by Green Route Africa, our travel consultants, and escorted to your hotel.
- Welcome reception, introductions, rules of the road, and heavy hors d’oeuvres, 6:00 pm, Table Bay Hotel.
Thursday, Feb 22:
- Morning at leisure in your hotel/Victoria and Albert Waterfront.
- Afternoon: Introductory talk, followed by orientation tour of Cape Town and trip to the top of Table Mountain by cable car for sundowners, admiring this panoramic view with sparkling wine toast to Cape Town at 12 Apostles Terrace. Those desirous of a more active remedy to jet lag may arrange a guided hike up the mountain for a slight additional cost.
- Dinner at the Bungalow Restaurant, Camps Bay.
Friday, Feb 23:
- Mid-morning walking tour of Cape Town’s city center, including the historic Company Gardens, Parliament, St. George’s Cathedral, and District Six.
- High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, a colonial hotel set amongst extensive gardens near the center of town.
- Talk by John Matisonn with light canapés at Table Bay Hotel.
- Dinner on your own in Cape Town: Bree Street, Cape Malay Quarter, Waterfront, Seapoint: many possibilities to explore. Our tour leader and guide will be ready to offer their valuable foodie advice.
Saturday, Feb 24:
- Full day exploration of the Cape Point Nature Reserve, traveling along the spectacular cliff sides of Chapman’s Peak Drive, and the Cape of Good Hope, declared in 1580 by Sir Francis Drake to be “the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the Earth.” Hike or ride the funicular up to the Cape Point Lighthouse and view the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Lunch at Two Oceans Restaurant, Cape Point.
- Visit the African Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town.Return to your hotel for a brief rest before departing to Woodstock for dinner at the The Pot Luck Club.
Sunday, Feb 25:
- Departure by ferry to Robben Island, primary site of Nelson Mandela’s 27-year incarceration along with many other political prisoners, for private guided tour.
- Light lunch at Harbour House Restaurant.
- Afternoon tour of Langa Township, one of the large peri-urban racially segregated communities established during apartheid for black Africans, now dichotomous places of poverty and vibrant community life.Dinner at Gold Restaurant, providing a high-energy and eclectic pan-African dining and entertainment experience, complete with drumming, singing and dancing.
Monday, Feb 26:
- Morning: Guided tour of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, established in 1913 to protect the vast floral wealth of the Cape region and now home to over 22,000 indigenous plants. Picnic lunch on the grounds.
- Afternoon: Two Oceans Aquarium; optional visit to University of Cape Town.
- Dinner at the chic and funky Grand Café and Beach in Granger Bay.
Tuesday, Feb 27:
- Leave Cape Town for the Winelands.
- Walking tour of the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch and the well-regarded, formerly primarily Afrikaans university.
- Visit Solms Delta Valley Wine Estate for a wine tasting and picnic lunch. Tour the museum, documenting the slave heritage in this 300-year-old wine area.
- Afternoon: Check into Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa and relax before dinner in the culinary rich town of Franschhoek.
Wednesday, Feb 28:
- Visit a couple of wine farms in the Stellenbosch/Franschhoek/Paarl region, with tours and wine tastings.
- View the impressive Taal Monument in Paarl, erected in 1975, honoring the Afrikaans language and its central role in Afrikaaner cultural identity.
- Farewell “Bubbles and Braai” dinner (“braai” is the South African version of a barbeque, with lamb chops and boerewors cooked over an open fire) at Grand Roche Estate in Paarl.
Thursday, March 1:
- Check out of hotel. Depart by coach either for the Garden Route Sequel or to Cape Town International Airport for onward or homebound flight.
Princeton Class of 1969 South Africa Mini-Reunion
Sequel Itinerary: Garden Route and Amakhala Game Reserve
March 1 - March 5, 2018
Thursday, March 1:
- Depart Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa by motor coach to Oudtshoorn, via Swellendam, founded in 1745 by the Dutch East India Company and the third oldest settlement in South Africa.
- Lunch in Swellendam.
- Proceed to the Little Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world made famous during the “Feather Boom”. Visit an ostrich farm, where the truly brave will have an opportunity to ride an ostrich.
- Check in to your own thatched-roof chalet or rondawel at the Protea Hotel Riempies. Rest of afternoon at leisure.
- Dinner in Oudtshoorn.
Friday, March 2:
- Morning: Tour the Cango Caves, a spectacular series of underground caverns and vast halls. Visit the Cango Wildlife Ranch, the oldest and largest cheetah contact center in the world, where we might also tune every heart in the presence of some Bengal tiger cubs.
- Lunch in the popular Garden Route village of Knysna.
- Enter the Tsitsikamma National Park, where we will stay at the Tsitsikamma Village Inn. Bungy jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, at individual discretion (or lack thereof).
- Dinner in Tsitsikamma Village.
Saturday, March 3:
- After breakfast, continue Garden Route journey to beautiful Plettenberg Bay. Visit Monkey Land, a free-roaming, multi-species primate sanctuary and/or Birds of Eden, a free-flight aviary covering 23,000 square meters of forest and housing 280 species of primarily African birds.
- Travel to malaria-free Amakhala Game Reserve and check into your lodge in time for lunch, followed by a late afternoon game drive in an open Land Rover, with sundowners in the reserve.
- Dinner at your lodge.
Sunday, March 4:
- Crack of dawn wake-up call and light refreshment before setting out on early morning game drive. After about three hours, return to your lodge for a full breakfast. For the energetic, take a guided game walk after breakfast (subject to ranger availability); otherwise, lounge in luxury at the lodge, in the pool, or in your own chalet. Enjoy a late afternoon/early evening game drive and sundowners before returning to the lodge for dinner.
Monday, March 5:
- Another early morning wake-up for optimal game viewing, followed by another hearty breakfast.
- Late morning: Fond farewells. Travel by coach to Port Elizabeth Airport for your onward or homebound flights.
Terms and Conditions
- Sponsorship: This trip is arranged by the Princeton University Class of 1969 as a convenience to classmates and their families. The Class is not in the business of arranging tours. It is not sponsored by nor is it connected in any way with Princeton University.
- Medical Information: Participation in this trip requires that you be in generally good health. Participants are advised that the itinerary entails a substantial amount of walking, some of which is fairly strenuous. It is essential that persons with any medical problems or dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure. The Class has the right to disqualify or limit the participation of any participant at any time during the trip if we feel the participant is physically incapable and/or if a participant's continued participation will jeopardize either the individual involved or the group. There will be no refund given under these circumstances.
- Cost Fluctuation: The costs given on the registration form and accompanying material are given in good faith but are budgetary. Participants acknowledge that final costs may be more or less than those indicated.
- Itinerary Changes and Trip Delay: The itinerary is based on information available at the time of the registration mailing and is subject to change. The Class reserves the right to change the program's staff, itineraries, or accommodations as conditions warrant. If the trip must be delayed or the itinerary changed due to bad weather, road conditions, transportation delays, government intervention, airline schedules, sickness, or other contingency for which the Class cannot make provision, the cost of delays or changes is not included.
- Cancellation: The Class reserves the right to cancel this trip before departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants or logistical problems such as strikes, wars, acts of God, or any other circumstances that may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All unexpended trip payments received will be refunded, and this refund will be the limit of the liability of the Class. The Class is not responsible for any expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the trip, including nonrefundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets, special clothing, visa or passport fees, or other trip-related expenses.
- Force Majeure: The Princeton University Class of 1969, and its Officers and Agents give notice that they assume no responsibility howsoever caused for injury, loss, or damage to person or property in connection with any service resulting directly from: acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, thefts, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, terrorism, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or changes in transit or hotel services over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in the itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants.
On advancement of deposit to the Class, the depositor acknowledges that he/she has read and understands the above recited terms and conditions, and agrees to be bound by them.