Tag Archives: latin america

Where to Spot the Southern Cross

During the colder months, Willamette Intl Travel clients head annually to the Southern Hemisphere in search of sun, warmth, and adventure. Today let’s take a look at one of the South’s most prominent emblems—the Southern Cross.

photo by Ryan Wick, flickr creative commons

The Southern Cross is an iconic constellation visible to those in the Southern Hemisphere. It is comprised of four stars in the shape of a cross: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta Crucis—with some areas able to see a fifth, Epsilon Crucis.

Visible to ancient tribes in the British Isles in the 4th millennium b.c.e., it has since dropped down to the vistas of southern latitudes. In the recent millennia, the Cross has customarily been used by southward explorers in antiquity. Unlike the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere has no singular pole star to highlight the way for maritime navigation—so sailors used the Cross as the celestial point of reference. Though recorded throughout history, it was Joao Faras, astronomer to King Manuel I of Portugal, who was the first European to sketch the constellation during his Brazilian voyages.

The Cross, or otherwise known Crux, has come to represent the southern hemisphere and its cultures. Throughout the centuries it has appeared in folklore, popular usage, flags, and coats of arms. In many Australian Aboriginal cultures, the Cross is said to be an emu or a possum in the sky. It is an integral part of many traditions, the subject of songs and literature, such as Richard Rodgers’ musical ballad “Beneath the Southern Cross.” It’s also lent its name to towns villages, ships, airplanes, and newspapers across Latin American and Australia–Suiderkruis in South Africa and Australia’s Southern Cross come immediately to mind.

So where can you see this brilliant constellation?

New Zealand

As the Crux is visible all year from New Zealand, it is a prominent feature of the local culture and appears on the national flag. The Maori call it Mahutonga, which means “the anchor” — and it is part of a larger constellation of a canoe, comprised of the Western constellations of Orion’s Belt, the Pointers, and the Crux.


The best location to view the stars is Coonabarabran, home to the Anglo Australian Observatory. The stars appear on flags of Australia, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. It is also the subject to countless local poems, songs, and speeches.

Latin America

The crux also appears on flags throughout Chile and Argentina, and on the Brazilian coat of arms. It was incorporated into the Brazilian National Anthem in 1909 and is currently apparent on all Brazilian Real coinage.

South Africa

The crux is the subject of the well-known South Africa Christmas carol, Somerkersfees. One of the most prestigious medals in the country, The Order of the Southern Cross, is awarded to remarkable citizens who have displayed exceptional achievement. Recipients include Chris Barnard, performer of the first heart transplant in the country, Oliver Tambo and Chief Luthuli for their contribution to the liberation struggle, and a number of professors for their exceptional work in their respective fields.

Northern Hemisphere

You can sometimes see the Southern Cross just north of the equator until about 25 degrees latitude—for instance in Hawaii or Northern Africa, as long as it’s in the months of May or June.


The Big Island of Hawaii is the only location in the USA that you can spot the Southern Cross! Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain of the islands, houses the largest telescope in the world and is one of the best summits to experience snow and stars on a clear day. In the Hawaiian language, as in Maori, the Cross is an anchor, but identified by the name Hanaiakamalama, or “cared for by the moon.”


Interested in Traveling to the Southern Hemisphere for the Winter? Seeking to spot the Southern Cross as it was meant to be seen? Let us advise you! Call 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com for more details.


Filed under Africa, Asia, Central America, Features, South America, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Vendor of the Month: Avanti Destinations

Copy of travel news

Willamette Intl Travel uses Avanti Destinations as one of our main tour operators in Central America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Avanti is world-renowned, a member of the United States Tour Operators Association, and have been in the business for over thirty years. Best of all, they are based in Portland, Ore., right around the corner from Willamette Intl Travel!

Avanti offers fully customizable tours in a range of destinations—from jungles and mountains to deserts and islands. Their established, creative itineraries are designed to make the most of your cultural jaunt abroad—and can even be tailored to the minute details to your interests and needs. They even offer theme journeys, focusing on ecology, adventure, food and wine, romance, etc.


Avanti’s services extend to transfers, tours, lodgings, day trips and more. They keep a range of hand-picked accommodation on list—from lodges, villas, and condos—and every property has been inspected by an employee. These visits ensure the lodgings are of the highest quality, while maintaining a range sensitive of varying budgets. Avanti can arrange shared and private transfers to and from the airport/each destination. In some major ports, they can even arrange pre- or post-cruise itineraries for comprehensive land tour. Day tours are booked with local tour operators, keeping you always on schedule, and with local guides who have grown up in and around the region.


On a recent itinerary to Costa Rica, we booked some of our clients on an adventurous tour through cloud forests and volcanoes. They spent a week traversing treetop walkways, river-boating, swimming in hot springs, and horse-riding on the beaches of Guanacaste. To quote one client, “This was the best vacation of my life!”


Travelers on an Avanti booking have:

  • – Taken a bus through the Andes to Puerto Natales
  • – Cruised the channels of Tierra del Fuego from Ushuaia
  • – Caught glimpses of the leopard and cranes in the forests, lowlands and wetlands of the Pantanal
  • – Spent a night overlooking the Iguassu Falls
  • – Wandered the cobblestoned streets of the colonial city of Paraty
  • – Explored the boutiques and glitzy restaurants of Buzios on the charming Costa Verde
  • – Savored wine in the Loire valleys
  • – Hiked Chile’s spectacular Torres del Paine National Park and the Atacama Desert with its salt flats and dramatic volcanoes
  • – Zip-lined in the butterfly-rampant Cloud Forest of Monteverde
  • – Visited the Uros-Iruitos floating reed islands and the quaint village of Copacabana
  • – Traced the cultural journeys of the pre-Inca Chimu and Moche civilizations, climbed the pyramids of Tucume, and visited the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in Huaca Rajada

Ask us more about Avanti or call us to find more about destinations. We can be reached at 800.821.0401 or info@wittravel.com.


Filed under Central America, South America, Vendors, VOTM