(This map can be quite deceiving. Even though we’ve explored part of each country on the map, it would take several lifetimes to truly uncover the gems each individual country and culture has to offer.)
From a young age, my grandmother filled my head with stories of adventure, and crossing the great oceans in massive ships. I recognized that traveling was not just a dream for me, but my purpose. The obsession in my mind had to become a reality, and from the age of 18, I worked to travel as often as I could.
Crossing a border feels like stepping into a brand new world. Not only does everything look new and exciting, it smells and sounds different too. When I board a plane, the part of me that lies dormant in the routine of life, turns on and fills every sensory perception with wonder.
Beyond the thrill of visiting a new city is the euphoric sensation of spending time in wild and untamed nature. Sunsets and sunrises never cease to take my breath away. Open spaces, be it jungles, flat open plains, isolated mountain peaks or tropical beaches with vast ocean views, contain a magic that reminds me that life is spectacular.
Favorite people, favorite places, favorite memories of the past. These are the joys of a lifetime, these are the things that last.
Henry van Dyke
A Life in Africa
Africa offers the wide open spaces that keep me curiously exploring. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite the number of beautiful places I have visited, and that are very much a part of me, I always find my self returning home.
My first major hiking adventure was in the Northern Drakensberg Mountains which border the small country of Lesotho. Although I battled, this was where the bug bit. Years later, a friend challenged me to take on Mount Kilimanjaro and after 3 months of training, I had conquered the tallest mountain in Africa. What had started out as “Bucket List” adventures, changed into something I simply did for the love of it.
The Fairest Cape
After the birth of my son, we moved to Cape Town, on the southern tip of South Africa which became our base for 7 years. What kept us there so long is easy to guess. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on the planet, nestled between the ocean, wine lands and mountains.
I spent a large part of my time hiking and exploring everything Cape Town had to offer. Both land and sea became my playground. Even though the ocean is ice cold all year round, I could not keep my feet dry.
Kite surfing, body boarding, diving, sailing and stand up paddle boarding filled the warmer weather days. On cooler days, I had the mountains. The iconic Table Mountain alone, offers a collection of hiking routes that are all breathtaking.
Next to Table Mountain is the well known Lions Head Peak and makes for the most incredible Moon-Light hikes. The trail which winds up the mountain offers spectacular views in the daytime. Once you reach the peak, you can even see the historic Robben Island which once imprisoned Nelson Mandela.
Move inland towards the wine lands and you have Paarl Rock, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. In the Southern regions, there are the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, located at the back of Table mountain which open up into the Constantia and Tokai Forests. These areas offer hiking destinations with streams, forests, caves and moon-like limestone lakes that make you feel like you have been transported to another world.
Crossing Oceans Once Again
In May 2016 we took on our biggest travel challenge to date, spending 2 months in central Europe and 4 months in Asia. With our home contents in storage, there was no return date on our journey and so we explored to our hearts content.
We had a ball, first visiting close friends in Prague, spending a few days in Austria and then flying to Bangkok. From there, we spent a month in Chiang Mai, and then flew to Kuala Lumpur where we extended a 4 day stay into two months. The next stop was Bali where we spent another month and then headed home via Mauritius.
6 months was beyond wonderful, but we were all exhausted. I learned that despite my love for travel, I am not a true nomad and I had missing the familiar comforts of home. Being on the move comes with its fare share of challenges. Fights, accommodation, food and transport become every day tasks requiring attention. I learned the enormous value of having a base you can escape to when you just need a time-out.
We are now back in my home town, soaking in what city life has to offer. It has been 2 months and I am already plotting our next escape but for the next few month at least, I’m very happy to have my feet grounded.
I can’t deny that ice cream tastes infinitely more delicious in Italy and that a slice of pizza in New York will have you craving it for life, but this has little to do with ingredients, and everything to do with immersing oneself in another world. That feeling never fades but there is truth in the cliche, “there is no place like home”… at least for now.
“Some things in life only happen once, the memories of them lasting forever. They’re moments that alter you, turning you into a person you never thought you’d become, but someone you were always destined to be.”