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Captivating Experiences in Cape Town

February 5th, 2019, by Lucille Sive

Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to Cape Town with Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc. and a group of travel trade partners. We spent 5 days in Cape Town and our trip was filled with wonderful events, performances and cuisine.

Here are a few of the highlights from my trip with images of our unforgettable experiences.

Table Bay Hotel

Situated on the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, The Table Bay Hotel is positioned against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. We were fortunate to have a wonderful choir called Isibane se Afrika and gumboot dancers from the township of Khayelitsha perform for us one evening. Their energy, spirit and performances were inspiring and beautiful!

Lucille Sive, TTC Africa Division CEO and Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc.
with gumboot dancers at The Table Bay Hotel

 

It was also wonderful to meet and interact with choir members and gumboot dancers and learn more about their aspirations. Isibane se Afrika means The Light from Africa. The choir’s mission is to be a force for good in their local township of Khayelitsha, to work with other people who want to do good, and to help build a positive future for the young people from their community.

Andisiwe Mbuje (holding microphone) with members from the Isibane se Afrika choir

 

Isibane se Afrika was created in 2000 by Andisiwe Mbuje who wanted to give young people from her township the opportunity to be part of something that makes a positive impact in their own lives and those around them.

Our group was so inspired by Isibane se Afrika and the gumboot dancers that members of our group started to collect donations that would go towards building an Arts and Culture Centre in Khayelitsha. The space will be a place for the choir to have proper rehearsals and a sanctuary for both choir members and the larger community.

Karibu

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Christo Brand and his wife, Estelle Brand in Las Vegas. Christo was Nelson Mandela’s ex-prison guard at Robben Island and also became his friend. He first met Mandela in 1978 when he was 18. In his book, Doing Life with Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend, Christo recounts the 12 years he spent with Mandela at Robben Island and how he went from being his prison guard to his confidant and collaborator. 

Lucille Sive with Christo and Estelle Brand

 

During this meeting, Estelle told us this wonderful story about her fruit cake and how much Mandela loved it.

Mandela had a very sweet tooth, so Christo had started buying chocolate, cookies (biscuits) and fruit cake for Mandela from the supermarket. One day he shared a piece of cake with Mandela and found it very dry. In an effort to satisfy Mandela’s sweet tooth, Christo smuggled some of his wife Estelle’s fruit cake into the prison for Mandela and he loved it. From that point on, It became Estelle’s famous cake. They made a plan that they could buy some regularly, because everything that came into the prison from outside had to have a receipt.

Christo put a paltry price on it, and marked it weighing a lot less than it actually weighed, as there was a maximum limit allowed for food stuff to be brought in, and this was a heavy cake. He brought his wife’s cake in regularly and it became a significance between him and Mandela. “Perhaps it represented a sharing of a tiny part of family life.” Even after Mandela was released, Estelle still baked it for him on his birthday and for Christmas.

Christo Brand meeting travel advisors at Karibu Restaurant

 

During our dinner at the beautiful Karibu Restaurant, set between the picturesque view of Table Mountain and the tranquil blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, we were fortunate to have Christo and Estelle join us once again. Christo spoke to our group and gave us insight into a different side of one of the world’s greatest leaders and the friendship that evolved during their time on Robben Island.

Estelle was also kind enough to share her famous fruit cake recipe, which you can also try baking.  

Zeitz Museum

On our last evening in Cape Town, we were thrilled to host a farewell reception at a special gala at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first-century art from Africa and its diaspora.

Sherwin Banda and Lucille Sive at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA)

 

With Table Mountain as the beautiful backdrop for our evening, we were greeted with music played by a band called Blackroots Marimba – an incredibly successful women’s driven marimba band in the Western Cape region.

Member of Blackroots Marimba

 

We were fortunate to have an exclusive evening to view the cutting-edge art exhibitions followed by a beautiful dinner where we had a 270-degree view of Cape Town. 

Travel advisor viewing a piece by Misheck Masamvu, Memoirs of Childhood

 

There were many other unforgettable moments throughout this trip, but this experience was truly the perfect way to end our time in South Africa.

Making Travel Matter By Supporting the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Cooperative in Jordan

November 23rd, 2018, by African Travel

Making Travel Matter By Supporting the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Cooperative in Jordan

Celebrating 10 years of working to #MakeTravelMatter with our not-for-profit partner The TreadRight Foundation, TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau and a group of influential storytellers recently joined us on a journey of exploration and discovery in awe-inspiring Jordan, where we visited the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative outside of Amman.

Unemployment for women in Jordan is at around 33% in urban areas and even higher than that in rural areas. The cooperative was founded in 1993 with the goal of making the women in the region financially independent, as well as preserving local heritage.

The TreadRight Storytellers team’s goal was to gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative’s important work and future goals, as well as the struggles they might face as they look to achieve them and help share them with the world.

“As an organization and with the support of African Travel, Inc., we are working to make travel matter. The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative is a perfect example of the kind of initiative that can harness the power of travel and tourism and use it to make real, sustainable positive changes in people’s lives,” says Shannon Guihan, Program Director of The TreadRight Foundation. “It was a privilege to be welcomed with such warmth and humour by the women who call the cooperative home. We heard story after story of lives transformed for the better through Iraq Al-Amir, and the relationships formed there. Now TTC has the honour of introducing our audiences to those stories through our new video and by taking guests to visit the cooperative in Jordan.”

Managed and run by local women, Iraq Al-Amir has provided training to more than 150 women from all villages of the Wadi Seer district of Jordan, teaching them to make beautiful pottery and paper so that they may have a space to come together and show visitors Jordanian hospitality. The handmade products are sold on site at the gift shop, as well as online.

The TreadRight Foundation helps to support the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative through its People pillar, which encourages the cultures, traditions, and arts of the communities African Travel visits, seeking to enable these communities to experience the true benefit of travel and tourism through economic empowerment. This is achieved through support of micro-enterprises and community-based travel and tourism initiatives that build a positive future for community members and their families.

TreadRight is working with the cooperative to upgrade the gift shop, as well as provide merchandising expertise, and allow the group to expand their food services, creating more income opportunities for the cooperative’s members.

“We’re working together to help the cooperative to become a viable business,” explains Guihan. “The idea of creating viable economic opportunities through travel and tourism is central to TreadRight’s People pillar. The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative will be a testament to that.”

Following the TreadRight Storytellers experience the foundation produced its newest Storytellers video, showing the incredible beauty of Jordan and the inspiring work of the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.

You can visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative on African Travel's Secrets of Jordan

5 Reasons You Need to Visit Cape Town in 2019

November 9th, 2018, by Lucille Sive

In 2018, the readers of Travel + Leisure named Cape Town one of only 15 “World’s Best” cities. Thanks to the Mother City’s unique blend of natural beauty and captivating cultural attractions, it’s easy to see why the city remains at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. Following an incredible recovery from a water shortage in 2018, in which residents and travelers alike rallied together to save water, Cape Town’s travel and tourism sector is “open for business”! Travelers looking to support sustainable tourism and sample some of Africa’s extraordinary experiences in 2019, should look no further than this astonishing city.

1) BREATHTAKING NATURAL BEAUTY

One of the many reasons that travelers choose to visit Cape Town is its abundance of scenic beauty and natural attractions. The city itself is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain, one of the world’s Seven Wonders of Nature. Table Mountain’s iconic plateau forms the dramatic backdrop of the city and is a must-see for visitors. We recommend taking the cableway to zip to the top of the mountain, which sits over 3,400 feet above the city, since it allows 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. Once at the top, you can freely hike and explore the area to take in truly awe-inspiring views of the Western Cape.

View of Table Mountain


Another can’t-miss scenic attraction is the Cape of Good Hope, located within driving distance of Cape Town. We recommend booking a full-day tour of the region where you will enjoy a lovely scenic drive along the rocky coast of the Cape Peninsula, before making your way to the top of Cape Point for uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west. The Cape of Good Hope is also located within the Table Mountain National Park, so you will get an opportunity to see the fascinating flowers of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of just six floral kingdoms in the world.

2) GOURMET FOOD & WORLD-CLASS WINE

Capetonians love their food, so it’s little wonder that Cape Town is one of the leading culinary destinations in Africa. The region is known for its seafood, thanks to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The diverse sushi selections at Willoughby & Co., situated in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, are a local favorite as are the fresh oysters that are served daily at the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa’s Azure Restaurant. Cape Town is also home to a rich culinary history from the Cape Malay people, who came to the region from Malaysia in the 1600s, bringing with them flavorful foods such as curry and chutney. For adventurous culinary tourists, we recommend taking a cooking class with renowned chef Cass Abrahams to learn some of the secrets of the tasty Cape Malay cuisine.

Wine tasting in the Cape Winelands. Photo: South Africa Tourism


For wine amateurs and experts alike, no trip to Cape Town is complete without a thorough exploration of the region’s famous vintages. Situated just outside of Cape Town proper, the Cape Winelands is home to a diverse range of winemakers that is sure to delight travelers of all tastes. Thanks to the area’s one of a kind climate, the region’s grapes produce some of the best wines in the world. A wide variety of wines are produced in the region, including reds, whites, and tawnies, but of particular note is pinotage, a red wine grape that is known as South Africa’s signature variety. A cross between pinot noir and cinsaut grapes, pinotage is notable for its rich, earthy flavors. We recommend booking a full-day tour to the Winelands region so that you can stop for wine tastings and tours at a number of vineyards to learn about the exciting history of South African wine.

3) NELSON MANDELA'S STRUGGLE AGAINST APARTHEID

While visiting Cape Town, it is absolutely essential to learn more about Nelson Mandela’s three-decade struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Arrested in 1962 for political crimes, Nelson Mandela went on to spend 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island, located just off the coast of Cape Town. Today, you have the opportunity to visit Robben Island, now a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will be escorted around the former prison to learn how Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners overcame extraordinary adversity to transform Robben Island into a symbol of freedom for the world. Seeing Robben Island and, especially, Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell, is an emotional journey and one that you won’t soon forget. We recommend booking the half day tour to Robben Island in advance of your trip to ensure your seat is saved for this popular historical attraction.

Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island. Photo: Katherine Watts

4) VIP TREATMENT & LUXURY ACCOMMODATIONS

From the moment you arrive in Cape Town, you will be treated like a VIP. After you have touched down and collected your luggage, an African Travel representative will whisk you away to your luxury hotel to begin your Cape Town adventure. This VIP treatment extends to your experience at your hotel, where you can expect to be warmly greeted by the property’s well-trained staff. We are proud to offer a variety of hotel options and you can rest assured that we only provide accommodations at a 4-star level or above. For example, if you travel on Unforgettable Southern Africa you will stay in the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, a 5-star boutique hotel that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel enjoys the longest hours of sunshine in Cape Town, ensuring that you will see remarkable African sunsets during your stay. The interior decor reflects the surrounding scenery with light, airy rooms that combine contemporary African style and classic European comfort. The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa is just one of many Cape Town properties that we enthusiastically recommend. We encourage you to speak to your knowledgeable Africa Specialist to find the Cape Town accommodations that suit your travel style.

Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

5) CAPE TOWN IS A WORLD LEADER IN SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

View from the Cape of Good Hope.


Cape Town has made a remarkable recovery from the water shortage that affected the area earlier this year. As of October 2018, dam levels have reached 75% capacity, up from 38% capacity at the same time in 2017. This incredible turn around was made possible thanks to abundant winter rains and the coordinated efforts of Capetonians and travelers who, when called upon, rallied together to conserve the region’s water resources. Over the past three years, Cape Town has been able to decrease its water consumption by an amazing 50%, making Cape Town not just a story of recovery in the face of climate change, but a sustainable model for the world. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has highlighted Cape Town’s successful water conservation strategies as a new standard for other global cities to emulate. Sustainability is at the heart of Cape Town’s tourism industry and, as a result, water-wise practices remain in effect at the city’s hotels: you will be asked to do your part by taking shorter showers and avoiding baths. With this sustainable foundation in place, Cape Town is poised to remain a top travel destination for generations to come. We look forward to welcoming you to Cape Town in 2019!

For more information about Cape Town’s water shortage, read Cape Town is Open for Business”.

 

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