Tag Archives: cape town

The Garden Route: A Brief Guide

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No, the Garden Route is not a gallery of gently manicured bushes or sculpted sprigs or wrought-iron greenhouses.

South Africa’s Garden Route is a huge stretch of land, rich in natural vegetation, that extends over 200km along the Western Cape.

Within this scenic playground, you might find everything from lagoons, gorges, fragrant plantations, pine plantations, or sandy coves.

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But it’s the local culture that draws the curious traveler to explore the hidden nooks and wild crannies along this remarkable coastline.

For years, chefs, artists, fishermen, and carpenters have been carving out their niches in this area. Explorers are rewarded with curious craft galleries, colorful inns, and woodcutter workshops tucked away in sleepy inlets. Driving along the harbors, you’ll want to stop at the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn, or the green port town of Calitzdorp, or marvel at the aquamarine bays of Knysna.

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Nature-inclined adventurers can hike through ancient forests of Tsitsikamma National Park, or climb onto sea cliffs for faint glimpses of humpback whales or bottlenose dolphins. You can stay next in family bungalows at Wilderness National Park for easy access to the park’s wetlands and lagoons. For a more civilized road trip, Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay are the towns to hit for beachside resorts and package tours.

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How to Get There: The best way to tour the Garden Route is by car. Drive on the N2 main highway, which connects Cape Town with Port Elizabeth.

Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel to book an unforgettable trip to South Africa. Nancy and Christina have both visited recently and would love to share their perspectives of this fascinating region. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Reading List: South Africa

It’s time to get our read on! Inspired by Nancy’s recent trip to South Africa, we at WIT whipped up a reading list of books to entice your travel appetite. Stay tuned for Nancy’s firsthand feedback later this week!

Luli Callinicos, The World That Made Mandela. A coffee-table book of images that tell the story of Nelson Mandela through place. From his birth in Qunu, to the Old Fort in Johannesburg where he was held prisoner, these images follow the footsteps of his remarkable journey.

frankwelsh_historyofsaFrank Welsh, History of South Africa. This one-volume history of South Africa is a general and authoritative overview. Welsh follows the country through its turbulent history into the present-day “Rainbow Nation.”

JM Coetzee, Disgrace. This book won Coetzee the Booker Prize for a second time, the first writer to ever do so. An austere and compelling story of one man’s downfall in the chaos immediately following the overthrow of Apartheid.

Vincent Carruthers, The Wildlife of Southern Africa: New Edition (2008). This best-selling field guide features over 2,000 plants and animals, with texts by leading experts. Lauded as the definitive companion to game parks and hikes, the book also showcases hundreds of vivid illustrations.

Niq Mhlongo, Way Back Home. One of the newest voices in the post-apartheid literary scene, the book follows a South African exile who returns to Mzansi after the fall of the nationalist regime, and his ambitions that eventually lead him astray.

capetownNigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen, Vivian Bickford-Smith, Cape Town: The Making of a City. An intimate look into the complex city of Cape Town, showcases an array of paintings, maps, sketches and photographs.

Ed. Michael Chapman, The New Century of South African Poetry. An anthology of poetry from earliest oral culture to post-apartheid verses, including translations from the nation’s many languages.

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Fun Facts about South Africa

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South Africa: You know wine, you know a bit of the history–but did you know that the country has 3 official capitals? Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. Check out more amazing facts below!

Check out our previous post on Cape Town for more on this fascinating country. 

Little-Known Facts about South Africa: 

  • South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
  • Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
  • South Africa has the cheapest electricity in the world.
  • The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 2,789 feet.
  • The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prizewinners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
  • South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, the Vredefort Dome. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The oldest remains of modern humans were found in Klasies River Cave in the Eastern Cape. They are well over 100,000 years old.
  • In its eastern part, South Africa entirely surrounds another country – Lesotho, an independent constitutional monarchy.
  • South Africa has 11 official languages, including Zulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa and English.

Last Month WIT Agent Nancy returned from two weeks in South Africa. Stay tuned for a firsthand account of her adventures!

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All About Day Tours

A new, foreign country can be daunting. Imagine heading out with only yourself and a guidebook. You can waste precious trip time wandering unfamiliar streets and unexpected corners with only a vague sense of the highlights. Where is that Cafe you’re friend told you about in Montparnasse?

Why not hire a local guide for a few hours or even for a day? Friendly, approachable guides love to chat about their city and introduce visitors to the local culture. Theirs is a personal, tailored touch that can’t be replicated from a guidebook. Since they already know all the best places to visit and the best way to get there, they can be a great source to save valuable time and money you could instead spend on that gelato.

Day trips can be simple walking tours around Rome, dinners with flamenco dancers, or full day excursions to see Stonehenge. They can be tailored to your needs, providing private services for you and your family or group tours with 12 or more people at affordable prices.

We at Willamette Intl Travel have contacts all over the world that come highly recommended. Have a destination in mind? Let us open your experience by arranging day trips with any one of our great guides. Here is a sample of the best:

Anselmo in Lisbon. Anselmo and his band has provided tailor-made tours all over Portugal and Spain for the last 15 years, specially designed for private families and small groups. They can take you on unforgettable day trips to Sintra and Lisbon or multi-day tours through the Douro Valley, Santiago de Compostela, or the amazing cities of Batalha, Tomar and Evora. “Just a note to tell you how wonderful Anselmo has been. If you can imagine being squired around Portugal by Mr. Carson of Downtown Abbey, but with a sense of humor, you can get a sense of Anselmo” ~~ Carla, client of Wittravel

Spanish Trails in Barcelona. This group offers amazing and unique tours in and around Barcelona.Their tours include wine tastings in the Catalonia countryside, sea kayaking along the Costa Brava, and food and wine tours in the city.

A&R in Rome. Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Chocolatine in France. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Chocolatine offers private services in France that are 100% tailored to your needs. We work closely with them to arrange private excursions in Paris and elsewhere in France. Recently, they have helped to track down a client’s ancestral ties in battlefields in Alsace-Lorraine.

Meli in Istanbul. Meli is the founder of MeliTours, an exceptional tour company based in Kusadasi. For years they have escorted our clients in unique itineraries in Turkey, Greece, and on sailing trips along islands and coasts.Their guides are passionate, knowledgeable, and geared toward the interests of each individual guest.

Laura in Cape Town. Laura’s Township Tours is operated by Laura Ndukwana who was a born and bred in Guguletu, South Africa. As a tour guide for 17 years, she is the perfect guide to Cape Town, opening up the experience with her personal anecdotes of day to day life in the area. Laura is also actively involved in community projects that aid local children.

Marissa in Buenos Aires. Marissa is a unique one-woman operation in BA, and has organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for the past 12 years. “When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

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