An Update from the WIT Blog


At Willamette Intl Travel, our agents are working to accommodate the needs of our clients in this time of crisis. We’re getting people home, rebooking canceled travel plans, and providing personalized customer service.

If you’re a client and need to rebook your travel plans, please reach your travel agent at 503-224-0180. We have a 24/7 emergency service for clients in need. Thank you for your support and patience as we process client requests.

In our 40-year track record, we’ve responded to many travel emergencies over the years, so we’re trained in the art of crisis management. It means everything if we can offer our clients a sense of order and peace of mind in these times of confusion. As individuals who live and breathe travel, we fully empathize and understand the concerns that many of you are currently experiencing. Your safety and well-being are of paramount importance to us.

If you are calling about new travel plans, please be aware that airlines and many other vendors have closed or have limited availability through April 30. However, if you’re looking to travel after April 30, we look forward to discussing your trip plans with you.

person standing on rock formation near body of water during night time

Photo by Kehn Hermano on

Here at the WIT Blog, we’ll be suspending blog posts until further notice to help reduce the number of emails in your inbox.   

Feel free to use this time to reconnect with yourself, family, friends, pets, nature, online shopping, and turn off the computer 😊  

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

To tide you over until the crisis clears, here is some light reading: 

Dogs Can Do Social Distancing, Too

Baby Elephant Rescue (Photos)

10 of the Best Travel Shows on Netflix Right Now

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Travel News: New Overwater Bungalows in the Bahamas, and More


It’s been quite a whirlwind of travel news lately, but hopefully things will clear up soon. In this week’s travel news, we have a few lighthearted and cheery updates to share:

New Ride At Universal Studios Hollywood – The Secret Life of Pets

A new ride based on The Secret Life of Pets films will open at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles on March 27. The new attraction. called The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, it will feature 64 animated figures along with voices from the actors in the films. Riders will be seated within vehicles resembling cardboard boxes, like the box in which Max is found as a puppy. Passengers will travel along a track as if they were stray puppies, heading towards the Pet Adoption event in New York and the happy ending of ‘forever homes’. Visitors can also use the park’s Virtual Line technology which enables them to join the ride based on the next available time.

adventure altitude clear sky cold

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on

Air New Zealand Unveils Beds In Economy Cabin

Good news for long-haul flights to New Zealand! Air New Zealand is planning to install beds in its economy class cabins on long-haul flights. The airline operates some of the world’s longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland to New York service, which will take up to 17 hours and 40 minutes.

Banyan Tree to Open Resort With Overwater Bungalows In The Bahamas

Luxury resort brand Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts is coming to The Bahamas! The new Banyan Tree Bahamas on the island of Bimini. The new project, designed by renowned architect Chad Oppenheim, will be the first-ever resort in The Bahamas to feature overwater bungalows. The property will consist of 50 keys and 54 luxury residences. All of the hotel suites will come with private terraces and plunge pools, with hotel amenities including a signature Banyan Tree Spa and a series of curated events like music series and oceanside meditation gatherings. 

Reading for the Plane

photo of mountain under cloudy sky

Photo by @Lodophotos on

5 Ways To Explore Ireland This Year

Is Gothenburg Europe’s Greenest City

The adoration of Ghent: art, history and flavours in Flanders

Why Georgia is one of the world’s most underrated skiing destinations

scenic photo of city during daytime

Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on

In other news: 

Group Tours Banned From Amsterdam Red-Light District Windows

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Filed under Asia, Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe

Tanzania 2020 – Serengeti


Christina and John recently returned from their biannual trip to Africa! Every year, they escort a small group of clients through countries from Kenya and Tanzania to Namibia and South Africa.


From two spectacular safari days in Ngorongoro Crater, the group continues on to the Serengeti with Unique Safaris. A few days of game drives take them to Central and Southern Serengeti.

Central Serengeti


After a final early game drive through the Crater, the group cut through on the Western Rim Road to Serengeti National Park. They’ll spend a few days getting to know the central Serengeti including the Sametu Kopjes, the Maasai, Simba and Moru Kopjes as well as the Seronera River Valley. 

Unique Safaris carefully arranges trips to coincide with the wildebeest calving season and herds that follow the rain clouds. The grasslands also attract zebras, elephants and antelopes – and with them, the predators.


Central Serengeti is a protected area of around 12K sq mi, renowned for its wildlife. Around 70 large mammal and 500 bird species live in its diverse swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands. It’s also renowned as a being the home to the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and black rhino. 

Christina and John’s game drive started from the main ranger gate through the various kopjes to Sametu Camp arriving in the late afternoon at Sametu Camp. Their drivers hug the backroads so as to avoid most of the vehicles and glimpse more wildlife!


Southern Serengeti

The South part of Serengeti is a fragile grass habitat attracting pregnant females, Thomson gazelles and cheetah who love to prey on gazelles. The grass is rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, all essential nutrients for pregnant wildebeest.

This time of year, it’s common to see around 750,000 pregnant females–a swarm migration that welcomes 10,000 births per day and 6 weeks of calving.


This area is a bit less restrictive with off-road driving, so there is some flexibility to follow interesting wildlife. During these next two days we will have a chance to visit a number of key areas in the southern plains, including Lake Ndutu, Lake Masek, the Kusini Plains, the Moru Kopjes, and possibly Hidden Valley.


Lake Manyara

As the group left Serengeti, the drive paid a visit to the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, stopping along the way to visit Olduvai Gorge, the site of Louis and Mary Leakey’s famous archaeological discoveries. 

At the end of the journey awaits Lake Manyara, the 7th largest body of water in Tanzania. This soda alkaline lake in the East African Rift is often populated with healthy flocks of flamingos.


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Filed under Africa

Back in Africa! – Tanzania January 2020


The golf course at nearby Kilimanjaro Golf and Wildlife Estate is the first 18-hole championship golf course in Tanzania and is up to par with the most demanding international guidelines.

It’s that time of year again, when WIT Founders Christina and John have recently returned from another spectacular trip to Africa. As usual, they escorted a small group of clients for a full two weeks in Tanzania.

five zebra grazing on grass field

Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen on

They saw the main highlights – Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manya. Organizing their trip was no other than Unique Safaris, one of our all-time choice Africa tour guides.

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you’d know that Unique Safaris has escorted hundreds of our clients in the past on unforgettable holidays all over Africa. Their services and quality are truly unparalleled in this part of the world.

zebras on zebra

Photo by Pixabay on

To book a safari holiday in Africa, call Christina, the specialist on all things to do with African safari. If you’re looking for tips on when and how to go, look no further than Willamette Intl Travel.

Call 503-224-0180 or email

Read on for more highlights of the trip!

Arrival at Kilmanjaro


As the group arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport, they were met by a representative and driven to the lovely Siringit Villa

From the Masai word for “endless plains,” Siringit is a golf and wellness retreat, overlooking the vast grassland plains and acacia-studded savannas.

This gorgeous luxury villa houses just 6 bedrooms, a truly intimate stay in the African bush. Christina and her group stayed in four of the rooms, tended to by a full staff and personal chef, Chef Axel.

The golf course at nearby Kilimanjaro Golf and Wildlife Estate is the first 18-hole championship golf course in Tanzania and is up to par with the most demanding international guidelines.

Chef Axel Janssens perfected his culinary art in Michael Star restaurants and since 2006 brought his talents to Tanzania. Guests and critics alike rave about his fresh ingredients and creative dishes.

Ngorongoro Crater


After a full breakfast, it’s off for a drive through Arusha Town to Ngorongoro Crater. They spent around 1.5 days at the lovely Ngorongoro Crater on game drives.

Nicknamed as the 8th wonder of the world and a UNESCo World Heritage Site, the crater is the world’s biggest unbroken caldera. Safaris venture into the crater for a chance to glimpse rare animals like the black rhino. As a protected area, the crater also plays host to buffalo, hippos, blue wildebeest, gazelles, waterbucks, eland, and zebra.


A full day in the crater (and an overnight nearby!) means that Christina’s group got to stay longer in the day than most other tourists. Day trippers tend to leave around 3pm, which means that most of the crater is less crowded in the later afternoon.

Lion’s Paw

This unique luxury camp is situated close to the crater and where the group spent two nights. Hidden on the slopes of a rainforest, Lion’s Paw offers matchless views and a secluded atmosphere.

As one of the few tented camps in Ngorongoro, many animals visit the camp, especially the buffalos. You can easily see the balcony other animals on the crater floor, like Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Wildebeest, Zebras and more.

One activity at the camp is the evening Bush fire. After a long day on safari, this evening is all special wine and storytelling under the African starry sky.

Stay Tuned for More African Adventures – next time on the WIT Blog.

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What Are the 6 Top Luxury Cruise Trends for 2020?


According to one of the world’s leading travel advisors’ organization, Virtuouso, more cruisers are looking for the unique in 2020. The network just revealed its top cruise trends for the year, and January through March is prime booking season, so let’s get started.

The 6 Top Luxury Cruise Trends for 2020

6. The more unusual and faraway, the better

“In 2020, cruisers are choosing itineraries based on destinations and the more unusual and faraway, the better,” said Beth Butzlaff, VP of cruise sales at Virtuoso.

More travelers are beginning to see cruises less as passive, “floating vacations,” and more like dynamic destinations. Time in the port and excursions onshore (and off!) are equally of valuable.

cruise cruise ship ocean sail

“Passengers want to enjoy the essence of these places through interactions with local people and culture.”

No longer just focused on the Caribbean or Mediterranean, cruise ships visit ports as diverse as Muscat, Oman; Manta, Ecuador and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

white cruise ship

5. Cruisers are looking for the immersion

This means stays in port, pre nights and post nights, shore excursions that take you to meet local people and cultures. All capped off with complimentary evening performances in port. Seabourn for instance, offers cultural, culinary, adventure and mindful-living shore excursions that go the extra mile.

scenic view of ice capped mountains

4. The Arctic is Hot

Everyone seems to be jumping on the adventurous cruising bandwagon these days. With Arctic cruisers becoming more selective, there are a range of cruise lines that offer colder climes such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland, and Norway.

Tastes as varied as Crystal, Seabourn, Viking and Ponant are all seeking pure, untouched Arctic destinations with a touch of wildlife and once-in-a-lifetime excursions. 

Silversea offers a private-jet trip so guests can visit the Antarctic without having to traverse the Drake Passage, and Quark Expeditions will feature heli-skiing in Antarctica in 2021.

aerial photography of sea

3. Conscious Travel

Mindful travel is more important than ever. Cruise lines are responding to cruisers’ growing appreciation of their cruise line being environmentally friendly, and designed to give back to the community they visit.

By 2030, the cruise industry is hoping to reduce its fleet-wide rate of CO² emissions by 40 percent. Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Aqua Expeditions and Royal Caribbean International are leading the way on conscious cruising.

aerial view of city during daytime

2. Micro-Cruises

In this day and age, sometimes people just can’t find the time off from their jobs. Enter micro-trips, short jaunts for people to enjoy quick 2-5-night cruises. There are dozens of options for weekend Caribbean trips, sailing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, New Orleans, and Galveston — even for the luxury cruising folks.

sea holiday vacation blue

1. Americana

Yes, far-flung is in, but that’s not to say those tides closer to home are forgotten. Cruises closer to home–the Mississippi, Pacific Northwest’s Columbia, and St. Lawrence Rivers are all flourishing. Itineraries are offered regularly by American Queen, American Cruise Line and UnCruise.

Have an idea of a luxury cruise or voyage for the family? Call our excellent cruise experts at 503-224-0180 or email 

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Filed under Celebrity Cruises, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, Europe, Luxury Travel, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Un-Cruise, UniWorld, Viking Cruises, Windstar Cruises

Travel News: New USS Arizona Memorial Opens Next Month


Updates from the Travel News vector! Every week we feature the latest in industry and traveler-friendly news. So you can stay up to date with the world of travel. 

In the growing trend of kid-friendly themed hotels, Cartoon Network has just opened up a hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The 165-room hotel sits on a 9-acre property just next to the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park. Check it out at Cartoon Network Hotel and MORE Cartoon Network Hotel.


There’s a new USS Arizona Memorial in the States—but it’s not in Hawaii, it’s in Arizona. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC), located near Scottsdale, Arizona, is proud to announce the public opening of the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River next month on February 22, 2020. The USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River honors the brave individuals that served aboard the USS Arizona that sank on December 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Silversea’s Silver Whisper becomes the first cruise to visit all seven continents in one trip! Their Legends of Cruising 2020 embarked on January 6, and will travel into 62 destinations in 32 countries—including Antarctica.

Australia Updates

Learn more of what is and is not impacted by the Australian firesAustralia Fire Impact on Tourism Sites. Also see Swain Destinations re Australia bushfires

Reading for the Flight


Mythbusting for spa newbies: Sage advice for those planning a journey into the world of wellness

A Uniquely Japanese take on Nostalgia

10 of the best budget spa holidays in eastern Europe

‘It’s Iceland meets New Zealand’ – exploring Europe’s most epic archipelago


Russia’s Mysterious City of the Dead

Everything We Know About Cairo’s New Grand Egyptian Museum

The Glitzy European City Going Green

Up in the Air

Facial recognition continues to gain traction. The tech has been added to the Global entry program at 15 airports in the US and overseas, allowing for international travellers to re-enter at a much faster pace. Instead of your fingerprint, it’s your face that gets scanned and matched with government databases—like passport or visa photos.


For more travel expertise, book an appointment with our agents at our Portland office! 503-224-0180 or email 

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Filed under Egypt, Europe, News

Hike New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk

If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, look no further than New Zealand.
The gorgeous South Island just opened its newest hiking trail, the Paparoa Track. 



scenic view of mountain

The Trail through Paparoa National Park

55 Kilometers of gorgeous mountain scenery runs from Blackball on the east side of the Paparoa Range to Punakaiki on the west side.
It all culminates to a memorial site where 29 miners lost their lives in the 2020 Pike River Mine Disaster.
Designed for both hikers and mountain bikers, the trail is marked and easy to follow. The road winds through ancient forests, limestone karst, past rivers and lakes, deep gorgeous and towering alpine peaks.
Explore on your own or go with a guide.
Hiking: 3 Days one-way Intermediate
Mountain Biking: 2 days one-way Advanced


Read more adventures in New Zealand:


Wildlife & Plants to Spot on the Way

Paparoa is a haven for ancient plants and animals. Mountain neinei or dragon leaf trees grow up to 13 meters tall. Look out for the alpine tussock, and thick nikau palms.

It’s a bird watcher’s paradise. The kereru or New Zealand pigeon with its iridescent green + purple feathers. The ruru or morepork owl with its haunting call. Keep your ear out for the calls of the kiwi at night. Listen for the distinct calls of tui and bellbirds. The region is also home to the endangered kea, mountain parrot.

mountain scenery

How to get there

The most spectacular route to the West Coast is via the South Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth. You can drive or catch the daily 5-hour TranzAlpine railway.

Download the Brochures

Paparoa Track brochure (PDF, 4,546K) (opens in new window) – with a map and profile.

Paparoa Track walking guide (PDF, 3,087K) (opens in new window) – with a map of section closed until 1 March 2020. Get a full hiking guide of each section of the trail. 

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Filed under New Zealand