Location and venue

Vredefort Dome – a World Heritage Site

The Vredefort Dome, located ~120 km southwest of Johannesburg, is a representative part of a larger meteorite impact structure. Dating back 2,023 million years, it is the oldest confirmed astrobleme yet found on Earth and, with an estimated original crater diameter of over 250 km, it is also the largest.  

Although deeply eroded, the Vredefort Dome preserves signs of the immensity of the energy unleashed by the impact, which would have also led to devastating global environmental effects.

In recognition of its global significance as an example of, and source of information about, a major modifying process capable of affecting Earth’s crust, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, a portion of the Vredefort Dome was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

https://www.vredefortdome.org

Conference venue – SunWa river lodge

The first river lodge in the Vredefort Dome heritage area, SunWa overlooks the waters of the Vaal River with a magnificent view of the rapids and rock formations in the river. The nearest town is Parys, ca. 8 km from the lodge. Parys is a small town in the Free State of South Africa and acts as a popular weekend getaway from the busy centres of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the north.

The main venue during the conference will be the Rhino Conference Room. It is a thatched, air-conditioned facility with windows overlooking the Vaal River. A wooden deck on the riverside will be used for coffee breaks. Smaller conference rooms are available for break-away sessions.

Adjacent to the conference venue is a dining and entertainment area with an upper deck overlooking the river. Conference lunches will be served there.

Lodging at SunWa

SunWa can accommodate a total of 120 people sharing (or 60 single person occupation). Much of the accommodation at SunWa is provided in single- and double-storey, twin bed, en-suite log cabins. Delegates who prefer hotel-style accommodation can be housed in the adjacent “Stonehenge in Africa” lodge. This is in 5-min walking distance from SunWa and can accommodate up to 120 people sharing.  

You will be able to book accommodation at SunWa and Stonehenge as part of the conference registration until the space is filled. Thereafter you will need to book for your own accommodation elsewhere.

Accommodation costs per person/night at SunWa (and Stonehenge) Lodge (incl VAT):

  • Accommodation at SunWa (sharing), incl. breakfast, dinner:      ZAR 1 200
  • Accommodation at Stonehenge (single), incl. breakfast, dinner: ZAR 1 600

Get In Touch

astrobio2020@uj.ac.za

Activities

There are numerous activities available around Parys and in the Vredefort Dome World Heritage site. Common activities at SunWa lodge or in the immediate vicinity include game drives in a private game reserve (Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Buffalo and a wide variety of Antelope species), half/full day Vaal River rafting, hiking,  stargazing, golfing, and hot air ballooning. The Savannah Cheetah Ranch hosts pre-booked visits and Parys provides a variety of art and curio shopping experiences. There are also 18 restaurants and 10 coffee shops in Parys.

Lodging elsewhere

Parys (8 km from SunWa) and the immediate vicinity features more than 100 guest houses, backpacker hostels, lodges and resorts. Basic guest houses in Parys offer single/shared accommodation with breakfast at a typically cost of Euro 50 per person. Luxury-style guest houses are available from Euro 100 per person.
People who will not stay at SunWa and Stonehenge will need to arrange for their own transport to the conference venue. Taxi services are widely available and inexpensive. We may however provide a shuttle service to one or two venues (to be announced) that we will recommend people to book.