Tag Archives: southern cross

Infographic: 6 Destinations to Spot the Southern Cross in 2017

We at Willamette Intl Travel love tried and true destinations like these! Interested in one (or more) of the places below? Give us a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.


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Filed under Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa, South Africa

The Next Best Destinations for 2017


Happy New Year, dear Readers! We’ve made past the end of 2016, hopefully with some fun and meaningful travel memories racked up. But what does 2017 have in store for the traveler? Here are our Top Destinations in 2017:


Cruise ship in Isafjordur, the West Fjords of Iceland

1. Iceland

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Iceland has once again made the list. In the past 10 years, Iceland’s popularity as a travel destination soared to immense heights, capping 1 billion travelers to this dynamic Atlantean rock in the summer of 2016 alone. Most travelers have visited the gorgeous Golden Circle and the Glacier Lagoon, maybe even ridden an Icelandic horse or spied the Northern Lights–but what’s next for Iceland in 2017? Traveling a bit more off-the-beaten path, to Lake Myvatn area, to the West Fjords and the Westman Isles. We’ll have to see what this magical Viking isle has in store for us!


Lake Bled in Slovenia

2. Slovenia (& the Balkans)

If you haven’t discovered this off-the-beaten-path trek in Europe, what are you waiting for? Slovenia is the oft-cited “playground of Europe,” with a range of activities to attract the thrill-seeker. Spelunking, hang-gliding, jet-skiing are just some of the more popular pursuits. Plus there are few city centers as pristine as Ljubljana’s. A great way to see the Balkan countries is to rent a car and spend a few weeks traveling around war-wounded Sarajevo, culturally bobbing Belgrade, and Croatia’s exquisite Dalmatian coast.


Białowieża Forest, Poland

3. Australia & New Zealand

Australia & New Zealand have always been a popular destination for families, couples and backpackers alike. Sydney boasted the “best fireworks in the world” at the Opera this New Year’s Eve. Tazmania might just be the next prime hiking destination, with multi-day excursions and luxury ecolodges. And NZ has an array of fun food-themed fetes to enjoy, kicking off with Auckland Seafood Festival in January and then Marlborough Wine & Food Festival come February. Though the Northern Lights have attracted some fair attention these past few years, the Southern Hemisphere has it’s own bragging right: the unparalleled Southern Cross!


River Boat sailing through Chicago, USA

4. River Cruises in North America

Domestic travel usually has to offer something unique to attract travelers, and we believe river cruises are that unique option. There seems to be no end to high quality river and lake cruises: the Great Lakes, roundtrip Nashville on the Mississippi River, Montreal and the eastern seaboard, and the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Themes range from southern style comfort on the Mississippi to the pioneer history of the Oregon Trail. River cruises are small-scale, comfortable, unhurried cruises in American history that often sail year-round–without the spectacle afforded on ocean cruises. Plus one major advantage over Europe or South America: shorter flights to get there (if any)!


Lisbon, Portugal

5. Portugal

Warm beach weather, delicious cuisine, and a charming ambiance makes Portugal a global destination. Lisbon has all the Old World beauty of a European small town, and the coastline draws its fair share of beachgoers and world-class surfers. In terms of food and wine, Portugal will certainly peak your interest, and the easygoing temperance of the locals will make you feel at home in no time.


Oslo, Norway

6. Scandinavia

Though oft-cited as the most expensive destination in Europe, Scandinavia remains one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” destinations in the world. Thanks to recent trends following the Northern Lights and Iceland’s natural attractions, the region is receiving all the attention it deserves. World-class restaurants, leisurely cafes, and interactive museums still place it at the top of the list (and the map!). Not to mention how easy and accessible most travelers find Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik–most of the population are friendly, curious, polite and speak English.


Reindeer in Finland

7. Finland & Estonia

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence from Russia in 2017, and a spirit of unity will be rampant in every town and city. Wander 39 national parks or visit the laid-back seaside capital, view the Northern Lights or take a dip in the local sauna. Helsinki has the familiarity and design-conscious layout of a Scandinavian town, with a cultural flair that’s uniquely Finnish. Estonia is also growing on the tourist horizon–Tallinn as a leading city of technology and entrepreneurship. Its heritage is part Baltic, with smatterings of Soviet Union and Finnish influence. A popular way to visit is via a cruise to the Baltic region–many of our clients have come back from a cruise excursion with tales of Tallinn’s enchanting city center.


Paris, France

8. France

Throughout the centuries, France has never lost its charms. Even through recent security issues have scared off some travelers, the Loire chateaux, Bordeaux wines and sun-baked sands of the Riviera are still there and thriving. After a shaky 2016, France is bouncing back in a big way, and tourist bookings have increased exponentially for 2017. Tourists seem to have their eyes on provincial towns and the hidden secrets of the countryside. Is this the time to finally check out the Champagne region, or go wine-tasting in the Dordogne Valley?


1950s/60s Cars in Cuba

9. Cuba

With relaxing entry regulations, Cuba has received quite the attention these past two years. The response from group travelers and cruise ship passengers has been wildly enthusiastic. Over 2 million travelers visited the island in the first half of 2016, compared to just 63,000 in 2010. But that may all change soon–some travel industry experts fear that the Trump administration will restrict travel there in the future. So now might be your only chance in a while to travel to the “Pearl of the Antilles.”


The Majestic African Elephant

10. Africa Destinations: Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa.

Africa remains an ever-popular destination, with senior couples and large families booking safari trips in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. These regions are still within reasonable budget to catch a glimpse of wildebeest, lions, antelopes. South Africa is world-famous for their natural diversity and local cuisine, catering to all flavors and styles. Immerse yourself on a game drive in Kruger National Park, or indulge in wine-tasting in Boberg or the Breede River Valley. We’re proud also to include Namibia on our list. As some of our readers know, WIT Owners Christina and John guided a merry band through the red sands of Namibia. The landscape is like no other, with miles upon miles of arid desert, dotted with unique wildlife and local tribes who paint themselves with ochre. We expect to see a rise in interest for Namibia in 2017, and now you can receive firsthand travelers’ experience at our office in Portland.

Do you have a favorite travel memory or photo from 2016? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

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Filed under Africa, Baltic, Croatia, Cruises, Cuba, Estonia, Europe, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Namibia, North America, Norway, Poland, portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, tanzania, USA

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?