About Us

Sally Petersen (nee de Jager) founder and director of AWOL Tours is living her dream of sharing her travel adventures with international guests to South Africa.

She is an intrepid and experienced adventurer herself, having spent many years travelling and working in Europe, Asia and Africa. She was a finalist in Out There magazine’s ‘Adventurer of the year’ competition after completing an epic cycling journey from London to Cape Town. (Raising funds for Survival International) This inspired her to found AWOL Tours in 2002, not only to share her experiences, but to give back to the community too.

With 17 years under her guidance, AWOL Tours has consistently exceeded customer expectations on AWOL’s wide variety of scheduled and private tours. We are proud to still be holding the number one spot as Cape Town’s leading hiking and cycling tour operator on TripAdvisor.

Sally likes to go AWOL herself when she can, and has built up an amazing team of professional guides who all share the AWOL vision, integrity and ethos. When not out on her mountain bike, she can be found using her vast local knowledge perfecting unique and authentic travel packages for guests to South Africa.

If you are an active person who seeks a personalized, quality experience, a greater understanding of our natural environment and genuine interactions with local people then AWOL Tours is designed for you! Travelling with AWOL will broaden your horizons, encourage greater cultural sensitivity, and physically challenge you no matter what level of fitness you are.

In the words of one of our happy guests: AWOL Tours will be the #highlightofyourholiday

 

Benefits of booking with AWOL

ACTIVE TOURS WITH PURPOSE

Whether you’re a family travelling with children who would like an easy leisure cycling tour or an athlete needing to work out whilst on holiday or business in Cape Town we are a comprehensive cycling tour operator that can cater for a variety of cycling tours to suit your travel plans

PASSIONATE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

Our team are passionate about the outdoors, people and places we visit. We are all outdoor enthusiasts who bike and hike regularly at work and at play. We believe in responsible, sustainable tourism and giving back to the communities we visit by supporting NGO’s on the ground.

FULLY ACCREDITED

AWOL Tours is fully insured with Professional Indemnity and General Public Liability Insurance, vehicles have road transport permits, all our guides are qualified tour guides with professional driving permits. Our company is  an accredited member of  Cape Town Tourism and South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), guaranteeing your deposits.

GUARANTEED DEPARTURES

If bookings are made within 24 hours, AWOL Tours  guarantees departures so that your adventures go according to your plans. No minimum numbers are required for day tour reservations. Tours can also depart with single travellers.

 OWNER OPERATED

As AWOL is owner-operated, we have a vested interest to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for all guests. AWOL can provide a standard of service and management appropriate to your needs, (from managing cycling clubs to academically intense post graduates).

SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY

 We have an vested interest to ensure that conditions we operate tours are safe and will have no hesitation in cancelling and refunding guests if we felt in anyway that you would be at risk. We have local knowledge of the weather, dangerous areas and instability and are best able to advise travellers on which areas to avoid.

PERSONALISED TOURS

Itineraries are planned according to the weather conditions, to avoid the crowds during the busy seasons and around your choice of destinations that will enhance your experience.

EASY PAYMENT + FREE CANCELLATION!

Pay online via our secure booking platform – we do not charge any additional merchant fees. You will receive a full refund on most day tours if cancellation is made at least 24 hours prior to departure.

Our Responsibilities

AWOL’s responsibility to the environment

  • AWOL cycles on recycled bicycles.
  • Planting indigenous trees and vegetation rehabilitation on tour itineraries with the approval of relevant nature reserve officials, assisting travelers to offset the carbon footprint or ‘cost’ of traveling.
  • Promoting and assisting programs that remove alien vegetation from natural habitats.
  • Supporting local environmental organizations such as the ‘Biodiversity in Wine’ initiative when selecting the wine estates we visit.
  • Groups are advised on sustainable seafood options to avoid eating endangered species, as prescribed by South African Sustainable Seafood Institute (SASSI)
  • Encouraging minimal use of water
  • Offering tours on bicycle to help reduce carbon emissions, being conscious of our energy use and recycling all office waste, where possible

AWOL’s responsibility to society

  • Encouraging genuine and real interactions between locals and tourists
  • Respecting local laws and customs, bearing in mind the local population.
  • Assisting disadvantaged individuals to become self-employed.
  • Researching and advising our guests on the sustainable and ethical products they buy and consume.
  • AWOL Tours supports the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation which seek to contribute towards eliminating poverty through original research and community engagement to develop and advance innovative approaches to strengthening livelihoods. Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation is a non-profit organisation and registered Section 21 (not-for-gain) company.

AWOL’s responsibility to you

  • Every precaution is taken on tour to ensure client’s safety
  • We provide you with legally qualified tour leaders with appropriate experience to lead the designated trips
  • All the vehicles used are roadworthy and have appropriate roadworthy certificates.
  • All vehicles used for traveling purposes (excludes game vehicles) are fitted with seat belts.
  • All drivers are suitably qualified with appropriate professional driver’s licenses
  • We outsource certain activities to companies that are bona fide legal entities, and have suitably experienced and qualified tour guides to lead appropriate activities
  • We go out of our way to do safety inspections on accommodation establishments prior to your arrival

AWOL’s responsibility to the economy

  • Supporting locally-owned and run accommodation in preference to foreign-owned hotel chains
  • Purchasing locally-made goods and sustainably harvested products, where possible
  • Encouraging tourists to purchase genuine crafts from local suppliers
  • Using local suppliers that practice responsible tourism policies
  • We abide by the laws of the country by paying licenses, membership fees and taxes!
  • All profits are generated back into the local economy

What AWOL advises clients to do

  • Travel with an open mind: cultivate the habit of listening and observing, and discover the enrichment that comes from experiencing another way of life
  • Avoid extravagant displays of wealth such as ostentatious jewellery and technological gadgetry. This can be an incitement to robbery, as well as accentuating the gap between rich and poor
  • Please do not give anything to beggars or children. Many children in townships don’t get to eat balanced diets, so sweets are a bad idea! Rather give to a registered charity or organization to make sure that items get to the people most in need.
  • Pick up your litter as you would at home: bottles, cans, plastic, cigarette butts. Apart from being unsightly, your rubbish can be deadly to wild animals
  • Where possible, remove the wrapping of packaged goods before you leave on a trip: unwrap soaps and take bottles out of boxes
  • Learning a little of the local language can help reduce barriers, take note of the dress codes and behavior of host community

Our Awards

  • AWOL Tours has consistently received TripAdvisor certificate of excellence award from 2011 to 2019 as rated by our previous guests.

  • The accolade honours hospitality excellence and is only given to about 10% of registered establishments worldwide, those that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor