2015. – Every year at about this time, I sit down to write about, reflect on and appreciate all that the previous twelve months have brought me. To pay respect, to honour and to recognise the impact of those who believed in me, the lessons gained from the people I met along the way and the many rich experiences I was awarded. Also to take note of things I might have and should have, done differently. It’s an introspective and somewhat emotional ride as moments and memories now captured in time return to be relived in my mind, bringing smiles and gratification to my heart. Even a tear to the eye, where appropriate.
It is true that after my amazing 2014. A Good Year. The Gift of Promise, Hope and Travel, I embarked on 2015 with an inspired sense of anticipation, unsure of where the year would lead me. Brave and ready for any opportunities, hard work and relationship building that lay ahead. Yet never in my wildest travel infused dreams, did I imagine what this big year would hold.
As a means of summing it up, here is a look at 25 things I did in 2015, in the longest photo set, ever. From road tripping to flights and bikes, local exploration and the discover of far flung places, conservation work, lessons learned and miles walked. These were my journeys.
The 56 floor Marina Bay Sands Sky Park where views are forever.
On Sentosa Island, doing a walkabout.
The De Plaat beach as we took to the shoreline for an exploratory walk.
A flight in a 1958 Cessna African Wings over Walker Bay.
Horse riding in the reserve on gentle yet strong Nicholas, an absolute beauty.
7. Reflections on my week with #PenguinPromises and how you too can get involved. 125km walked with the wonder woman who pushes my boundaries, Linda Markovina. Not easy, feet were broken for months, but endlessly rewarding.
Gondwana Game Reserve. Below videographer and friend, Jason Alridge.
Durban North Beach.
The Umhlanga Rocks pier.
I was on the panel for the Indaba Travel Bloggers Conference.
Special occasion on the beach.
Offshore snorkelling in the warm waters.
Spiritual details of temples and offerings at The Grand Bassin and Sacred Hindu Temples.
Visiting the many communities of Trat and getting a blessing from a Monk.
Barefoot, happy and planting mangrove trees.
The General Manager cycling past – Joep Schoof.
16. Rescuing Sea Turtles And Other Adventures In Kenya. A piece for Travelstart. Watamu Turtles. With friend Linda Markovina. (Below pic by her) See the work being done by Watamu Turtles.
Above a turtle release and below the devastating finds on an anti-poaching mission, highlighting the plight of this fragile species. Taking all the remains back to the research centre.
Boys and their horse on the beach.
Walking the coastline with Sammy Safari, the Watamu guide.
Below, Nairobi. Karen Blixen’s house. A dream to visit. (Pic by Linda)
18. Stellenbosch. A Must Do List For The City of Oaks. Solo Experience with Kayamandi, Stellenbosch Art Tour, Delheim, Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden and more.
20. My Return to Thailand. With Green Pearls Unique Places. Green Pearls. Blue waters.
With the most special Liesa Bisset, friend of the heart.
24. Switzerland with SWISS. #InLoveWithSwitzerland A perfect Winter Wonderland.
Taking to the snow like I mean it. With SWISS host and friend Danica Helfrich.
25. Pringle Bay. Home from home where my beloved parents are and my grounding happens.
Above Tuscan Storm, below Little Sienna who’s firmly embedded in my pup loving heart.
In between there were dinners, lunches, high teas, picnics, coffee dates, prom walks, launches and time with my most special friends. As well as time completely flaked out at home, with my pups. Travel blogging is harder work than it seems …
Who I worked with, thank you for believing in me and for your support – Manley Communications. Lesley Simpson Communication. NAC Helicopters. Theresa Gibbons. Five Star PR. Destinate. Green Pearls Unique Places. South African Tourism. Spice Roads. Wonders of Watamu. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Xplorio. Penguin Promises. Stellenbosch Tourism. Franschhoek Tourism. Atmosphere. SWISS International Air Lines. Switzerland Tourism. Tourism Authority of Thailand. HYPE. Return Africa. Relax with Dax. Linda Markovina. Hein van Tonder. Di Brown. Damian Cook. Cape Town Magazine. Trafalgar Tours. Liesa Bisset. Denise Slabbert. Anne Hoefinghoff. And many many more.
The countries visited – South Africa. Singapore. Mauritius. Thailand. Kenya. Switzerland.
There were 44 flights – including a light aircraft and two helicopters.
Cape Town – Johannesburg – Singapore – Johannesburg – Cape Town (Singapore). Grootbos Scenic Flight. George – Durban – Cape Town (MeetSouthAfrica). Cape Town – Johannesburg – Mauritius – Johannesburg – Cape Town (Mauritius O&O Le Saint Geran). Cape Town – Johannesburg – Singapore – Bangkok – Trat – Bangkok – Singapore – Johannesburg – Cape Town (Thailand 7Greens). Cape Town – Johannesburg – Cape Town. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Nairobi – Malindi. Nairobi – Johannesburg – Cape Town. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Polokwane – Johannesburg – Cape Town (Pafuri). Cape Town – Johannesburg – Singapore – Bangkok – Krabi. Koh Samui – Bangkok – Singapore – Johannesburg – Cape Town (Green Pearls). Cape Town – Johannesburg – Zurich – Johannesburg – Cape Town (SWISS). NAC Helicopter flight over Cape Town, twice.
I’d LOVE to learn to teleport!
Modes of movement – There were planes, trains, cars, busses, helicopters, taxis, tuk-tuks, baby planes, funiculars, cable cars, bicycles, scooters, trucks, bakkies, taxis, ferries, long-tail boats, speedboats, catamarans, golf carts, horses, donut rides, ski lifts, skis, motorbikes (don’t tell my mom) and LOTS of walking. I no longer go on quad bikes after my fall a year ago. Silly me.
It was the year that I branched into radio with the most wonderful Cathy Retief Neil on Radio Helderberg Passport to the World and Nigel Pierce on Good Hope FM. I also made numerous Expresso TV broadcasts talking about my travel experiences and recorded a few podcasts. I really enjoy all of this more than I ever anticipated. You can watch and listen under My Videos and Podcasts. I even presented at a couple of conferences including the eTourism Summit. i’d like to do more of that.
Travel Massive Cape Town continued to grow with Simon Lewis and I organising numerous events, culminating in Travel Massive Day in November. Watch the video. I am most grateful to the community for their incredible support and to our sponsors, specifically SWISS who came onboard as a national sponsor this year, you give us purpose.
There were discoveries, closer looks at the country I proudly call home. White beaches, blue waters, green mountains, snow covered mountains, glaciers, rainforests and desert plains. All the animals I adore from dogs, cats, penguins, elephants, lions, fishes and precious turtles.
I met conservationists, community leaders, people I want to be, storytellers, mentors, business partners, travel buddies, complete strangers, drivers and guides. I enjoyed time with my beloved family, friends old and new and the people of my heart. I could not have done any of this without their love and support. Every moment mattered, every encounter humbled me.
Moving forward I aim to focus on the things that matter and conscious sustainable travel. I do need more time for personal priorities as I work towards a future that is light and lovely with the correct balance of inspiring work and travel, a happy home and love-filled existence.
My wish is that there be books a plenty for reading, many good movies, lazy Sunday mornings, bubbly, popcorn and lemonade. Yoga, walks and swimming in the ocean.
May there be writing – I aim to do much more freelance work in 2016.
I am ever aware that travel is a privilege. A gift that I could never award myself in such abundance. Thank you to each and every one of you who makes it possible for me to live this remarkable dream.
Looking forward, each day I aim to intensify my Connection with Nature and promote Travel that Matters. More than ever I want to give back, to the animals, to the world, to the community in my own humble way. I much look forward.
But first after a slow and rather weary few weeks, I must start my year …
Thank you for the pic Thaya x.
Here’s to much more time stopped, on a beach, savouring the very moment.
Read about my previous year end posts here. Or go to 2012 – The Year of the Head Finding Me and 2013 – The Year of the Heart. Nothing is Black and White and 2014 – A Good Year. The Gift of Promise, Hope and Travel. Here’s to an incredible 2016!