cape town tour

Travel and tourism as a damaging activity

If ever there was a reason to consider the impact travel has on local people and the local environment, this is it.

Interestingly, this is an urban destination in Europe, which one would have thought would be much better able to accommodate tourism than some of the very fragile places and vulnerable people we operate in.

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The Okavango Delta as you've never seen it before.

We're really excited to be compiling another itinerary for Botswana today for clients from Colorado.

This trip is very short (sadly!) but the clients will at least be spending three nights at Delta Camp, Chief's Island, in the Okavango Delta. We're very jealous!

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Become a Marine Guide in South Africa!

A very interesting offering came through the interweb today: a course in Marine Guiding.

The seven-week course covers comprehensive theory on the 'Marine Big 5' of the southern Cape area - sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, penguins as well as seabirds.

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African drumming and restoring dignity

We had occasion to donate some clothing and other items we no longer needed during a clear-out at home last week. We took the items to U-Turn, a charity shop on Long Street, Cape Town.

Whilst we were there, we found out some more about U-turn: it's an NGO working with restoring dignity and hope to homeless people in Cape Town but in a most creative way.

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Namibia - Swakopmund to Etosha

Lots of interest in Namibia from our clients this week - and a lot of great travel writing out there about this amazing country too.

We particularly liked an article in Getaway Magazine from Welcome Lishiva.

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Why not visit Johannesburg?

Why not visit Johannesburg? Shrugging of its dark days in the late 1980s, it's now become a fantastic destination in its own right.

Joburg (or Jozi as the locals call it) has particularly in the last four years got better and better with lots to see and do that is safe, pleasant and really interesting. Unlike Cape Town, which still exhibits stark divides between black and white, Joburg not only feels but is genuinely more integrated. Joburg used to be very unsafe and as such, the city centre effectively died in the late 1980s, with even the stock exchange retreating into the northern suburbs (Sandton).

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Visiting Botswana - an alternative approach.

Botswana doesn't offer the infrastructure of South Africa but offers unparalleled wildlife particularly in the dry season (between May and August). This means that it's challenging to get around the country and most visitors end up taking light aircraft from one place to another.

An alternative to constantly getting into planes is to be driven in an itinerant safari.

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Occupation of land - a positive result.

We had occasion yesterday to drive to Freedom Park, a development in the Cape Town suburb of Tafelsig. We sponsor a family there and were dropping off some things they need.

Freedom Park is a very interesting 'test case' for how the land issue (see previous posts) might play out in urban settings. Formally an informal settlement (South African for 'slum') but upgraded into formal housing, Freedom Park is located in Mitchell’s Plain, one of poorest districts of Cape Town.

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Climb Kilimanjaro (the ethical way)

We're very pleased to announce that if climbing Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, is on your bucket list, then you can now climb it ethically and responsibly with Where It All Began!

We've teamed up with the wonderful people at Fair Voyage who have a whole raft of ways to climb the iconic massif, all of which are constructed around ethical principles. One of the main tenants of the journey is adhering to the park regulations on the minimum number of guides and porters per trip and also responsible waste and water management on the mountain.

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Rugby - a national talisman of hope

This weekend we had SUCH an important event in South Africa. Our first ever black Springbok (national rugby team) captain walked onto the pitch. Here at Where It All Began, we welled up with pride!

Siya Kolisi is his name: he grew up very poor in the Eastern Cape but was spotted by scouts and awarded a place at the prestigious Grey College, from which he built his international career. He's married to a white lady and has two children.

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A great accommodation choice for Johannesburg

Back in the urban environment today with an idea for how and where to stay in Johannesburg.

Long considered the 'poor relation' to Cape Town in terms of visitor-friendly cities, Joburg has shaken off its dingy past and is fast becoming one of the most attractive places to live, work and visit in Southern Africa. Granted, it doesn't have Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean but the city simply bursts with creativity and buzz.

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Unusual Walking Holidays in South Africa

If walking is your thing, South Africa abounds with sensational walking trails and we thought it was time we highlighted a few of them, particularly outside the Western Cape.

Today, we're letting you know about the Wild Coast: this is the rather magical stretch of coastline that stretches from along the southern coast of the country from East London towards Durban.

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Upskilling South Africa's young people

What an amazing experience! Clients of ours, Zoe and Eric, VERY generously gave up a morning of their trip to South Africa to visit the school we sponsor in the Bo Kaap, St. Pauls.

Eric is an entomologist and also a CG animator. He created a whole presentation of his work to show the Grade 7 class and then showed them in real time how to sculpt and create an insect in the CG programme.

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The turning point in the land issue

Today, our 'potentially final' installment in explaining the issues surrounding the land issue in South Africa. We say 'potentially final' because whilst today we'll go from 1900 - the present day, there is so much being said on this issue at the moment that we may have to return to the issue in later posts.

For various reasons, many historians attribute the contemporary myre to the 1913 Native Land Act which effectively made it impossible for blacks to own land or property and illegal for whites to sell land to blacks. From one day to the next, black farmers went from being farm owners and employers (some even employed whites) into tenants subsistence farmers on their own land.

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Land grabs - the prehistory.

Today, 'Part 2' of our three-part view on the truth behind the land issue in South Africa.

We're writing these posts in response to requests from several of our clients to cast some light on the issue and to combat some outrageously sensationalist reporting we've seen recently. Today we're looking at the situation between 1400 and 1800.

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Land grabs in South Africa - justice or racist?

So what's the story behind the invasions taking place in South Africa?

Perhaps the most highly controversial issue in South Africa, and arguably the issue with the most potential to destablise the entire country, is the land issue. It's not only highly controversial, it's also high complex so we're going to have to split this post into several parts.

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Visiting Mitchell's Plain - the true heart of Cape Town.

We were so very, very impressed to find this video on FB this week. At last, the parts of Cape Town that have for far too long been touted as 'unvisitable' 'crime ridden' 'dangerous day and night' are getting a spot light.

Mitchell's Plain lies not even 20 minutes outside the affluent City Bowl (central Cape Town) and was, under apartheid era spatial planning, used as a dumping ground for those who were not considered 'white enough' to live in the city.

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The Khomani Cultural Landscape - our 9th World Heritage Site

Hardly any South Africans, have even heard of the Khomani Cultural Landscape.  It's an area in the southern Kalahari, bordered in the east by Botswana and the west by Namibia, is where you will find a small group of the Khomani San a people who, until recently, were thought to have vanished.

The history of the San people in South Africa is a very traumatic one, hunted as they were like animals by early European settlers and driven north into the desert.  The original name for Table Mountain (Hoerikwaggo) and Cape Town (Camissa) are both San names.

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Namibia - a brief introduction

Excited today to get two enquiries for Namibia: if you've never been to this stunning country you are in for an absolute treat.

However, Namibia is large and sparsely populated and doesn't have the same level of infrastructure as South Africa. Therefore if you're planning a trip, you need to see this as quite an adventurous holiday.

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Alternatives to weaponised anti-poaching

Today in our final chapter on the increased militarisation of anti-poaching, we look at possible solutions.

The issue, according to Annette Hubschle, is that wildlife conservation continues to benefit economic elites: “Local communities remain mostly excluded from real benefits. They lose their land, access to natural resources and cultural sites. They have limited agency, management and ownership. Often the only benefits derive from the poaching profits that trickle down to grassroots level.”

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The 'war' on poaching

Today we're posting more excerpts from the article we posted earlier this week about the issues around anti-poaching initiatives in Africa

Much is written about brave rangers on the frontline of the wildlife war – very little about shoddy pay and working conditions. A study of 570 game rangers conducted by WWF last year found 82% had experienced a life-threatening situation, yet 59% did not have basic supplies like boots, tents and GPS devices, and 42% had not received proper training. Health insurance, life insurance and long-term disability cover were almost absent. Peter Newland, director at a private security company in Kenya, says donors want to see sexy, high-tech solutions like drones and ground sensors, “not hear about the need for warm clothing, boots and better food for rangers.”

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South Africa's little-known deserts and wildernesses

Something very different today: South Africa's deserts and wildernesses are not the first thing that people think about when they visit here.

However, our deserts are perhaps the most beguiling and intriguing of locations, precisely because they appear empty at first sight but in fact have a myriad of complex eco systems within them. Add to that the people of the deserts, particularly the Khomani San, and you have another world to discover.

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Anti-poaching - solution or problem?

A fascinating series of articles about the politics of conservation in Africa, written by Jane Edge, the CEO at Fair Trade in Tourism, has just been published by Safarious. There's a lot to take in so we'll break it up into smaller sections. Today, we look at the negative impact of some anti-poaching initiatives.

It's no secret that pretty much everywhere you go in Africa, so called 'wildlife armies' (highly militarised anti-poaching initiatives) are flourishing, fuelled by hundreds of millions of dollars in donor funding. But is the militarisation of wildlife conservation the answer? And at what cost to human lives?

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What's the deal with SAA?

So what's the story with SAA? In case you don't know, SAA is South African Airways, an example of the endangered species 'national carrier' and the largest airline in the region.

Simply put SAA is what is known locally as an SOE - state owned enterprise. So it's not a national company, it's a private company in which the state is the majority shareholder.

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Secret beach villa in Port Alfred

Just time to share this with you: a slightly longer video giving a tour of this splendid hide-away in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape.

Another excellent Eastern Cape safari option!

Back on the Garden Route today driving the twelve hours back to Cape Town. Just time to slot in one last Eastern Cape safari option!

Amakhala Game Reserve is smaller than Shamwari (25 000ha) but larger than Sibuya (3000ha) at 7500ha, Amakhala manages to retain a family-run feel despite being upmarket and on a large tract of land. Amakhala is ununusual in that the land it sits on was formed from the agglomeration of six farms. The families that own them decided in 1999 to unite their farms to form what is now Amakhala. Each family built its own guest accommodation but also still lives in their own farmhouse. As such, there's a personal imperative to ensure the sustainability of people and planet.

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Port Alfred secret beach villa

Liz and I are feeling very honoured to be staying at this secret beach house in Port Alfred, Easten Cape.

This gorgeous Victorian timber house comes with the amazing view of the Kowie River, beach and marina, three double bedrooms and a superb deck for entertaining. There's ample parking too.

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Luxury malaria-free safari

Liz and I are still in the Eastern Cape this week, so we thought we'd post about another malaria-free safari option.

If you want to splash out and really do this safari thing properly, consider Shamwari. It’s a five-star, ultra luxury private game reserve with several choices of lodges within it.

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Caster Semenya - the Usain Bolt that wasn't.

A name that is is becoming increasingly a household name at a global level is that of Caster Semenya.  Born poor, rural and deprived in the remote South African town of Polokwane (which is between Johannesburg to the south and Zimbabwe to the north), Caster originally began running to keep herself fit for football.  

It soon transpired that she was meant for greater things and went on to win race after race, coming to dominate at international level the women's 800m, 1200m and 1500m races.  However by 2009, she was winning by such a large margin (even against her own previous times) that in 2009 she was subjected by the IAAF to a 'gender test' (which she 'passed') but the results of which were never formally released.

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The glorious Eastern Cape

When you own a travel company, you need to travel!  Liz and I are off to the Eastern Cape today so we thought we'd give you some safari ideas for this utterly splendid part of the world.

The Elephant House is a most unusual safari option.  It's a large and beautifully decorated, owner-managed four-star guesthouse just outside of Greater Addo Elephant Park.  The website does not do the place justice at all so please don’t judge it by that!

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Exceed House
Springfield Office Park
Belleville, Cape Town
7450

Office +27 21 424 5347
Cell +27 72 136 9096

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Email: travel@whereitallbegan.co.za

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About

We’re an ethical private travel planning company focused on Southern Africa.

We offer ready-made and also customised holidays and journeys across this unique region of the world.

When our clients travel with us, they are assured that their travel spend is directly supporting local African companies that offer sustainable products and services, both in terms of people and planet.

Ethos

Our logo is an image of a skull found in the Rising Star Cave System in Gauteng, South Africa in 2013. It was named ‘homo naledi’, meaning ‘human of the stars’.

The cave system has so far given rise to the remains of over 15 individuals, making it the largest hominid fossil remains site ever discovered.

Travelling to Southern Africa is truly a return to the source of humankind, to Where It All Began.