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 discovery of far-flung places, conservation work, lessons learned and miles walked. These were my journeys.
1. Cradock and Lemoenfontein Country House with Hein van Tonder aka Heinstirred.
2. Twelve Apostles Hotel. Dinner Club with Avondale Wines.
3. The Beauty that is Babylonstoren. And Beyond.
4. De Hoop Nature Reserve. For a Complete Escape.
5. Singapore. Five days of exceeded imaginings.
6. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. A Storyteller’s Magic.
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.
8. #MeetSouthAfrica A destination is brought to life through its people.
9. Durban and Umhlanga Rocks. Indaba 2015. I was on the panel for the Indaba Travel Bloggers Conference.
10. Mauritius. Paradise Found. The One&Only Le Saint Geran.
11. FranscHHoek. The Secret is out, about Winter.
12. A stay at the One & Only Cape Town
13. Amazing Thailand. 7 Greens. Visiting the Eco-Tourism Communities of Trat.
14. The Spier Revolution. A Story for African Travel Market Mag.
15. The Taj. Cape Town. An Oriental Luxury Retreat in the Heart of the City. #CelebrateCapeTown A Photo Competition with The Taj Hotel.
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. Watamu’s Arabuko-Sokoke Coastal Forest Reserve.
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.
19. The Post House Hotel In Picturesque Greyton and Things to Do In Greyton.
20. My Return to Thailand. With Green Pearls Unique Places. Green Pearls. Blue waters.
21. The Darling of the Swartland. Tannie Evita, Sweet Treats, Books, Music and Craft Beer. And my other Hidden Treasures.
22. NAC Helicopters, Cape Town from above.
23. Paternoster in Pictures. Cape Town’s West Coast.
24. Switzerland with SWISS. #InLoveWithSwitzerland A perfect Winter Wonderland with #TeamSWISSZA Linda Sifumba, Nigel Pierce, Lentswe Bhengu, Chad Meihuizen Ryan Scott.
25. Pringle Bay. Home from home where my beloved parents are and my grounding happens.
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 …
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.
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. 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 on board as a national sponsor this year, you give us purpose.
There were discoveries, and 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, and every encounter humbled me.
Moving forward I aim to focus on the things that matter and be conscious of 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 aplenty 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 …