Do what you love

I love my work, mostly because I get to meet new and interesting people often.  I give an annual talk to Grade 11 Tourism learners and one of them asked this year what it is that makes me love my job.  My answer was immediate, ‘the people’. 

Today I made a new friend, we met for coffee after being team members on an online training course.  Tingo Mtambalika grabbed my attention during the course for his bright and positive disposition and this while we were in the early stages of lockdown and our tourism sector in the doldrums.

We chatted about various aspects of our work and Tingo told me how he started his business Santacruise Tours.  About 14 years ago he used to take family and friends on Sunday drives to explore the beauty of Cape Town.  Sunday Drives became so popular that friends used to call Tingo and say that they had heard of a specific area and suggested this destination for the next Sunday Drive.

At this time Tingo’s brother was working at a local hotel, he had noticed that a honeymoon couple from Tanzania spent every day at the hotel without leaving to explore the city.  When he asked about this their response was that they had heard Cape Town is unsafe and were too afraid to leave the hotel.  Well this was not an option for Tingo’s brother who immediately called for a mid-week Sunday Drive.

Tingo’s natural enthusiasm and love of people shone through as he drove the honeymooners to Cape Point narrating with interesting facts and pointing out places of interest.  Needless to say Tinga’s desire to impress the couple with the beauty of the city was so spot on that they went home and told their friends.  A second call came tfrom the hotel with a request for Tingo to take a Brazilian couple on a ‘Sunday Drive”, despite language challenges they too were so thrilled with their private tour that they insisted Tingo take payment despite his protestations saying it was so much fun showing the beauty of Cape Town and besides they had bought him lunch, no need to pay.

Word soon spread at the hotel and abroad and the calls started coming in.  Each tailor-made tour is put together with love, consideration and careful investigation.  Santacruise Tours offers a selection of tours including a township tour incorporating a visit to Emasithandane Orphanage in Nyanga.  Tingo was thrilled to share that six young girls are currently being sponsored by past guests.

Tingo and his family chose Cape Town as home because of the scenic beauty, abundance of activities, history and culture.

Santacruise Tours operates with 6 vehicles in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg.  Most itineraries are Cape Town and Garden Route focused.    Before lockdown clients originated from USA, UK, Brazil, Tanzania.  These days Tingo works mostly with locals, sharing with them the same passion and joie de vie as always.

Tingo’s plan is to grow a one stop shop for tours into many African destinations, being from Malawi his first outbound tour to his home country takes place early next year.   He believes that the Covid19 crisis will pass and we will recover.  ‘This too shall pass’, he says. ‘Do not lose hope, love what you do and do what you love’.

Santacruise Tours contact details: or 073 808 0411

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Long Weekend Garden Route Escape

Still looking for your long weekend escape?

With the long weekend approaching you may still be looking for a family escape in a place where you can breathe fresh small-town air, explore and indulge in some of the best wine and food around.

Four and a half hours from Cape Town on the renowned R62 Oudtshoorn is a town for all ages. Having recently spent a week there I realise that a long weekend may not be enough time to experience all this Klein Karoo town has to offer.

Quite apart from the beautiful landscape, Oudtshoorn is framed by the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains, giving guests unique entry through one of the many mountain passes that lead into the town. Off road adventurers will be charmed by the Swartberg Circle Route passing the road to Gamkaskloof and through Meiringspoort with its famous waterfall. I understand from chatting to visitors that the falls are spectacular at the moment.

Guided Cave Tours and Wildlife Preservation

On the list of must-do’s for families definitely include a visit to Cango Caves – a natural phenomenon dating back millennia. Their guides offer insight into an
underground magical world where brave adventurers once discovered these subterranean tunnels which are now an international tourist attraction and natural
world wonder.

On the way back into town from the caves allocate enough time to stop at Cango Wildlife Ranch for lunch and an opportunity take up their special deal of a guided tour, meal and soft drink plus an animal greeting. Have your camera ready, there are many photo opportunities around every corner. Cango Wildlife Ranch are partners with the Cheetah Preservation Fund, do ask your guide about this important global project.

Taste a little bit of heaven

For wine, gin and food lovers the choice may be difficult given the many options in this area. Karusa wine produces top quality red and white wines and my favourite MCC. Other local wines found in this area include Grundheim, who also produce stunning gins and a rather lovely rum with the funkiest label I have ever seen. De Krans is another great option so do include them in your itinerary.

If like me you are an olive fan then do not drive past Surval Boutique Olive Estate, I am so enthralled with their garlic and rosemary olives that I am about to courier a few bottles back to my home in Cape Town. De Rustica just outside the quaint town of De Rust make award winning olive oils having recently won the best olive oil in the world accolade. Naturally a few bottles of this precious oil also travelled home with me.

Amongst favourite restaurants it is a good idea to visit Nostalgie Restaurant, Black Swan and their sister bistro Mintt. We had a most delicious breakfast at Café Brulé at Queens Hotel and Cape Karoo Ostrich Emporium is open during the day for meals.

Get your heart pumping and then chill

Adrenaline junkies can get their thrills at Cango Caves Ziplines located at the parking area of the caves and the Skydiving company located at the airport is definitely an option for those brave of heart.

Accommodation options range from affordable B&B’s and Guest Houses to star-graded hotels. There are a number of self-catering, backpackers and camping
options in the area. If, however you are looking for a Big 5 game experience to add even more adventure to your trip, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge situated just outside the town is your stop.

This luxury tented camp offers game drives, elephant greeting, lion feeding and an opportunity to learn more about their Endangered Wildlife Trust work ensuring gene pool purity for cheetahs. Morning and afternoon cheetah walks are available, and funds raised on this excursion go directly to the trust.

For more information on accommodation, activities and attractions please contact Oudtshoorn & De Rust Tourism: | 044 279 2532

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