Tourists in our own backyard: Cape Town Tourism in the Garden Route
As part of our 2010 winter educational programme, Cape Town Tourism sent six team members to tour the Garden Route region over four days. Our aim was twofold, both to update our understanding and experience of some of the sites we recommend to visitors, and to give staff some time together, in which they might build better relationships.
Our trip started off with a visit to Adley House in Oudtshoorn, where we received a warm welcome from owners Pieter and Hilda Retief. We were treated to a traditional South African lunch, which included sosaties and home-baked chocolate cake. After that, the team headed off to the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Safari Ostrich Farm.
Candice Klue, who is responsible for information and reservations at our stand at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, says: “The Cango Wildlife Ranch was quite an impressive experience – even though animals are caged, they still maintain a good ecosystem at the ranch. Our guide, Craig, was knowledgeable and very enthusiastic, and we are sure that guests will enjoy every cent spent on this tour.”
At the Safari Ostrich Farm, impassioned guide Ricardo kept the team captivated with stories about the breeding rituals of these large fowls. Some staff members even had their photos taken with – and on – the birds.
After an eventful day, staff members had time to unwind in their well-apppinted rooms at Boulders Lodge & Spa.
Waking up to a hearty breakfast the following morning, the team hit the road, making time for a quick stop-off at the third oldest hotel in South Africa, Queen’s Hotel, followed by a breathtaking drive to Plettenberg Bay.
There we visited Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary and Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Sonia September, from Cape Town Tourism’s Call Centre, said: “Now this was awesome. Not only was the tour great, but the setting was also very interesting and welcoming.”
Gretchen Neer, from our head office, said: “What an amazing experience to get up close and personal with a cheetah!”
As if that wasn’t enough, we then visited Tsitsikamma Falls Adventures, for the thrill of a waterfall zipline tour. After such an exhilarating day we retired with aching bodies to Tsitsikamma Backpackers.
The following morning started out with yet another thrill, a canopy tour operated by Stormsriver Adventures. Annamarie Barnardt, from the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in Canal Walk, says: “I have overcome my fear of heights.”
After all this excitement we headed to Knysna to visit Bridgewater B&B, Bridge Water Manor, Double Dutch and Overmeer Guest House. We were also invited to Villa Mulligan, a guest house with an incredible view of Knysna Lagoon and its very own mini putting green.
As the sun began to set, we headed for Protea Hotel, Mossel Bay, where we were welcomed with ice-cold orange juice. Karen Bus took us on a tour of the hotel, then left us to freshen up in our self catering harbour suites. After settling in, we headed to the onsite Café Gannet restaurant for dinner. Zita Clarence, from the Muizenberg VIC, says: “The service was amazing – we were pampered from arrival to departure.”
Before heading back to Cape Town the next day, the team stopped over at Sandpiper Cottages just outside Mossel Bay. Fred Orban kept us entertained with tales of the rich history of the area and of the renowned Oystercatcher Hiking Trail.
As we travelled back to the Mother city we reminisced about our experience of being tourists in our own country. We couldn’t wait to get back to our respective offices to share our memories with the rest of the team.