Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Earthstompers – last of 2017

New team members

We have taken on 2 more permanent guides in our team.
Pieter, who has been doing many tours for Earthstompers over the years and has always been a part of the family, has now officially joined the team :) 

Christine, who is a newly qualified guide, joined us in August 2017. She has already completed 7 successful Garden Route tours and guest feedback is great! We are blessed to have found another super guide to join the Earthstompers Family.

You can read more about our team here

Christine & Pieter

Guests on Earthstompers tours in 2017

Our scheduled group tours have been doing very well with some months having 100+ people on board!! This year, so far, we have taken over 1450 people on Earthstompers tours!!!

Our little stomper

Our mini boss, William, has grown up so much that it’s about time for an update! We blilnked our eyes and then he was no longer a baby but a young boy with a will of his own! We laugh until we cry at his funny expressions and the things he does. He keeps us young and enjoying the small things in life <3

Earthstompers team year end party

Our team got treated by Hendrik & Chrissy to some fine food, wine and bubbles at Beau Constantia, Chefs Warehouse!

Another one for the books! We wonder how they keep on pulling these incredible experiences out of their sleeves! Hendrik likes to surprise us, so we never know what the day holds in store. But two things are guaranteed: Great wine and Great food!

Our team share a big love for each other, Earthstompers & travel. We had a lovely afternoon, just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. This is the biggest gift of the day, as the whole team only gets to be together, once or twice a year! We were served course after course of artistically plated feasts for the taste buds, paired with divine bubbles and wine.

As part of our “program” for the day we had a fun little prize giving for our guides. Hendrik announced interesting facts like the guide that drove the most kilometers in 2017 (61000km!!!) and the guide that did the most tours for the year.

Our guides also had the opportunity to share their most special moment that they had on tour this year, with the rest of the group.

You can watch the video on Facebook

SAYTC Year End Party

Before everyone heads out of Cape Town for the festive season, the Youth Travel team got together one last time. The event took place on the rooftop of Homebase Backpackers, in the city. 

The weather played along beautifully, giving us a stunning sunset behind Lions Head. As South Africans do, we had a braai and enjoyed conversing with our partners and colleagues in the industry, over a chilled glass of wine.

What’s new for 2018

We have launched a brand new Garden Route tour!!! 

Our shorter 4 day tour is available from 2 February 2018. We will depart from Cape Town every Friday and return on a Monday afternoon.

We are very excited about the new product. There’s been an increase in demand for a shorter tour, as well as a different day departure. We are very happy to be able to offer an additional 12 seats a week for our guests.

Happy Holidays!
- Cindy 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Youth Tourism Conference 2017 - Port Elizabeth

Once a year, members of SAYTC (South African Youth Travel Confederation), get together for an Annual General Meeting (AGM). A conference is normally combined with this event, to give members time to explore the destination where the meeting is hosted, and to do networking with other members. The destination changes every year, often giving members an opportunity to explore a new region and giving members that are based in that region some exposure.

Activities, trips, tours, culinary experiences, culture, interesting talks and great entertainment goes hand in hand with these conferences. Hosting South Africa's youth tourism leaders is a great opportunity for the host city to pull out all the stops, to showcase why they are a great travel destination. 

As you can imagine, a multi-day event like this is a lot of fun!

Many members in the industry started out over a decade ago, while others have just opened up. Long-lasting friendships and business relationships have been made, and new ones are being made every year. 

This membership-driven organization represents operators and addresses the concerns and interests of all operators throughout South Africa. Members are represented in the following sectors:
  • Backpacking South Africa
  • Education South Africa 
  • Tours & Transport South Africa
  • Volunteering South Africa
  • Tourism services

This year we were hosted by our Eastern Cape members, in the city of Port Elizabeth. The 3 day event started on Tuesday, 12 September (also Chrissy's birthday) and ended on Thursday, 14 September (Hendrik's birthday) 😀 This was also our biggest conference to date, with more than 200 people attending!

Day 1:

William joined us for his first SAYTC conference so we had a busy morning, running up and down ramps at the airport, after our little Stomper. 

Opening day included an "Amazing Race" where teams did various excursions in and around the city, including beer tasting, local food, Addo Elephant National Park, boat cruises and much more. Members arrived throughout the day, from all over South Africa. By the evening we were all together having craft beers, while food trucks made sure we didn't go hungry. 

Day 2:

Time for the official AGM, hosted at the Summerstrand Hotel. We got serious, with a formal setting, a panel of speakers and open discussions about important matters arising in our industry. Just as the day started to feel too long, we had some delightful entertainment by Joshua from Xhosa Talks:

When business was done for the day, the guys from Lungile Lodge Backpackers took us to Richmond Hill, an up-and-coming area in Port Elizabeth, to soak up the afternoon sun with a drink and some great laughs and conversation.

The evening was fun-filled as we were celebrating our industry friends, Baz Bus's 21st birthday! We were hosted at The Dockside for this get together. An awesome venue, with lots of space for dancing, great music, free shooters and fantastic selection of food trucks for dinner.

Day 3: 

After a late night, we were up bright and early for the last day of conferencing. This day was mainly set aside for 'speed dating'. Tables are set up and all members have an opportunity to display their product or to browse around through the room, visiting different stands and learning about the products. Wineflies took this opportunity to put up a stand where people could sample some wine, paired with chocolate. Naturally this became the gathering point and the most visited stall 😁🍷

The grand finalè, was a dress up party: Unique Film Characters. For a bunch of mostly extroverts, this was a great theme. It gave members a chance to express themselves in the most creative ways. We had Elvis, Marylin Munroe, The Joker, Top Gun...and many more! Wineflies hosted the event, and Francois opened it with a bang when he popped the bubbly with a sword!

We experienced Port Elizabeth in all its glory with a windstill, warm evening at the Rooftop Garden Bar. The highlight of the night was when we all competed in a rap-off! We had to choose a name for our team, write a rap song and then perform it as a group, on stage. Even though it's no secret that none of us can quit our day jobs to become a rapper, it was great to see the spirit in the room!

Day 4:

Although the conference ended, the party did not... On the Friday, the celebrations started a little ways down the road in Jeffreys Bay. Island Vibe Backpackers is also celebrating their 21 years, this year, so most of us made the trip to go congratulate them in person. Initially, this was NOT part of the plan, but when Togeda and I woke up on Friday morning, we felt like we will miss out too much!
Again, we were treated to great food, amazing local artists performing in the bar area and catching up with our friends. The energy did not fade, and again there was dancing until the wee hours of the morning. 

Finally, after a huge breakfast, it was time to bid farewell. The time with our partners in the industry, was thoroughly enjoyed and the whole event was very well organized. Thank you to our Eastern Cape chair, Aidan, and his team for organizing this awesome conference and to Loren & Ntsiko for making our last night with the family so special. Thanks also to Hendrik & Chrissy for flying almost our whole office team over, to attend the conference!

We look forward to next year!

Cindy Schalkwyk

Monday, 28 August 2017

Water shortage in the Western Cape of South Africa

The Western Cape of South Africa is facing a severe water shortage.

Over the last few years, our dam levels have gradually dropped, and this year, the Western Cape was classified as a “disaster area”.

The City of Cape Town and the National Department of Water and Sanitation measures dam levels to check how much water is available for the region and whether water restrictions are necessary for residents and businesses.

Institution of Level 5 water restrictions have been implemented in Cape Town. Residents have been given a target for daily usage of 87 litres. Watch this quick video to see how much 87 litres of water really is.

The Reality as of December 2017:

What's the state of Western Cape dams?

The province is supplied with water by 44 main dams. These dams collectively hold a maximum storage capacity of 1870.4 million cubic meters.

To date, many of the dams in our province have reported levels drastically lower than levels recorded at the same time during previous years. The average storage across the province on 21 December was 32.6%

Earthstompers as a business strives to do our part for water conservation, and encourages our guests to use a minimum amount of water when visiting.

What Earthstompers does to save water:

Transport – We wash our vehicles between tours only, and we use a car wash that has a grey-water system (collected rain water). Even though some dust might gather on the outside of the car, we will keep windows and inside of the vehicle clean on tour.

Accommodation – We encourage our accommodation partners to use water-responsible practices.

The tour – Our guides brief all clients about the water shortage & how they can decrease their usage, while in on tour and in South Africa.

What can you do as a traveler in South Africa, to save water?

Wash not, waste not

Most travelers know that hotels give patrons the option of not having their towels laundered daily. This is such an easy and convenient way to help save water; simply hang your towel up instead of leaving it in the bath or shower and you contribute to massive water and electricity savings.

Turn off the taps 

Many people brush their teeth while leaving the water running – it’s just a quick brush after all. What they don’t realize is that keeping the tap open can waste up to six liters per minute. The same goes for shaving; filling the basin leads to a significant reduction in water wastage.

Shorter showers

An eight minute shower uses about 120 litres of water. Sticking to shorter showers still gets the job done, but with less water wastage. Showers generally use less water than baths, and so the Western Cape government has requested that people always shower instead of using baths, and when showering, to keep it to two minutes or less.

Think before you flush the toilet

Only flush the toilet when necessary. We have a saying; If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down :)

Throw tissues in the dustbin, not the toilet

By practicing these tips, tourists can dramatically reduce water consumption, without being inconvenienced.


City of Cape Town:

Western Cape Government:

Ground Up:

News 24:

Love Cape Town:

Friday, 21 July 2017

Nelson Mandela Day

Every year on 18 July, the day Nelson Mandela was born, individuals and businesses around the world, mark Nelson Mandela International Day by making a difference in their communities. Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better, and Mandela Day is an occasion for everyone to take action and inspire change. For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity. In his honor, every year on this day, people around the world dedicate "67 minutes" of their time. As a company, we got involved in various ways, this week.

We partnered with an amazing project,
based on the Garden Route, The Precious Tree Project

The Precious Tree Project concentrates on creating patches of Forest, by planting indigenous and endemic Forest Trees in The Garden Route area of South Africa. The Garden Route, although lush with vegetation has only 30% of its indigenous forest left. 

During the recent “Knysna Fires”, the forest took a massive hit. The devastation is evident and the forest suffered. Many homes were completely burnt down and some residents lost everything in the fire.

Despite the devastation, there is a positive attitude in the air. Help is coming from all over South Africa (and the world) and people on the Garden Route are stronger together, than ever before. Rebuilding and picking up the pieces of this historical region and tourist hotspot. This forest is very special to us and forms the heart of our tour, plus two of our guides and Hendrik, the owner, were born on the Garden Route! Needless to say, we are doing as much as we can, to help the progress of this reforestation process. 

Our guests on tour, had a few opportunities to get involved and do their part for Mandela day. Some guests assisted with the reforestation project, getting their hands dirty and planting some new saplings in the damaged part of the forest. There was also an opportunity to volunteer at a local distribution center, receiving and sorting the much needed donated supplies, coming from all parts of the country, for the fire victims.

We are running a tree donation campaign for this project. You can donate a tree at R180. This funds the tree and the crucial aftercare, giving these young saplings the best chance of growing into a mighty forest, once again.

Earthstompers has donated 1 tree for every guest we took on tour, during Mandela Week. Since we launched this campaign, a week ago, we have donated 20 trees :D Yay!

Our Cape Town-based part of the team, headed to Khayelitsha township, close to Cape Town, to assist with the refurbishment of a classroom, at Kuyasa Educare Centre. The roof got taken off by the wind, during the “Cape Storm”, which was the same storm as the “Knysna Fires” – all of these disasters, caused by abnormally strong gale force winds, we experienced in South Africa during that week.

At Kuyasa, we worked on the damaged classroom, making it as new and neat as we could manage. Cleaning up, peeling old plastic from the walls, painting the ceiling boards and starting to get the roof back up. This project is run by our friends in volunteering, African Impact. They do amazing work, all over Africa, in a very sustainable and responsible way. African Impact runs a two week project based in Cape Town, where volunteers can do one week volunteer work at the Cape Town project and then go on a Garden Route tour with us, during their second week in South Africa. What an awesome opportunity, right?! The feedback for this 2 week package has been fantastic and this product is definitely increasing in demand.

We have had such an exciting and impactful week, being part of these various projects and getting involved, hands-on. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response we’ve been getting from past guests and people following us on social media. People donating trees and guests on tour, volunteering their time to help us build a better South Africa.

Thank you to our late President Nelson Mandela, for being the inspiration behind such a big movement. On this day we are reminded. On this day, we all stand together with one mission; to create a better future. Every day should be Nelson Mandela Day.