Inexplicably Proud to be your Woman the Month. Thank you Xtraordinary Women.

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I’m deeply honoured to be featured by Xtraordinary Women as their Woman of the Month, joining a collection of incredible women. My heart bursts with an appreciation for the interest. Read the interview below and subscribe to their magazine and newsletter.

‘With a career in tourism, I sold my bespoke tour operator company and immersed myself into the world of travel writing with the establishment of my blog, The Incidental Tourist, in 2010.

A self-proclaimed Earth Advocate and conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment, it is here that I share my stories and photographs, reviews and discoveries from international and local travels, as well as details of conservation campaigns that I support. From gorilla trekking in Uganda, tree planting in Zambia, turtle rescue in Kenya and crampon hiking in Patagonia, I like to believe I’m just getting started. My focus remains firmly on eco-tourism and the belief that we are all responsible for this beautiful world’s protection and owe our respect to the different cultures, people and places we visit.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

Born and raised in the Free State, I spend four years in Israel after travelling there on a student exchange program. Eventually making my way to the Cape, which has been my home since 1996. With a background in event management working for Anglo and Sun International, I moved into the wedding and hospitality arena before starting my own tour operating a business in 2000. A ten year period had me planning dream holidays for high end clients from all over the world, offering me the opportunity to showcase the best of what Southern and East Africa has to offer. Fuelling my love for travel as I got to explore many of the destinations myself. In 2010 I sold my company and took to blogging and writing full time, spending everything I could on travel experiences. By then my children had left home to pursue exciting young lives and I had the freedom and flexibility to do this. The journey into this new career has been rewarding and has kindled my personal evolution into conscious and eco-tourism, making conservation orientated work an essential part of my life.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

In the past years, I have partnered with numerous conservation projects as a media partner. One of them being who are committed to planting trees at numerous festivals, as well as on plant days in the Cape throughout the year. I travelled with them to Zambia and have joined them on numerous days working with children and communities creating food forests and educating in the significance of trees to our environment. There’s something very tangible about getting your hands dirty and planting a tree, it moved me.

Another is the Local Ocean Watch and Turtle Watch in Watamu on Kenya’ East Coast. An incredible project that is not only rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing endangered turtles on a daily basis but is also involved in the preservation of the mangrove forest, anti-poaching missions, educating communities and offering guidance in the establishment of non-ocean related industry in this area. I worked with them in August and have come away completely humbled and encouraged by the people involved; also all that Kenya has on offer. The best part is that they take eco-visitors and anybody can spend a week or more there learning, supporting and helping out.

Linked to the ocean, I joined forces with the 2 Oceans Aquarium and the Penguin Promises campaign, walking 135km from Gansbaai to Simon’s Town, creating awareness about the plight of the African Penguins. Also encouraging people to make promises to the environment along the way. Such as recycle, eat less meat, say no to bottled water and plastic bags, etc. A wonderful experience, even though my feet took a while to forgive me.

What is it that you are passionate about?

I’m passionate about animals and their protection, the ocean and wildlife; travel, culture, history and finding the individual’s story. Also my two dogs Tuscan and Sienna Storm.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Just the path that I’ve walked, how my life has evolved and the people I’ve met along the way. I do believe that we take a part of every person we meet with us, each interaction no matter how great or small, moulding us into who we become. It’s as though I’ve lived numerous lives within this one and I believe there are more chapters to follow. Also having my parents close and a grounded and safe upbringing and family has worked wonders.

Who or what is your inspiration and why?

The people I meet and whose stories I am able to tell, other writers and conservationists. I’m driven to make a difference in this world, however small it may be, either by working with animals or communities directly or by creating awareness surrounding the work of others. Everywhere I look there is beauty, hope and individuals reminding me of what really matters. My travels bring me closer to them in the most surprising of places; it humbles and inspires me.

What is your personal “motto”?

To be the best me, I can be.

What are your top business tips?

Build long-lasting relationships. They will be everything as you move forward in life. Always remember that reputation and credibility are key. Be true to yourself, do not compromise your principles or interests for a job.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I’d put it down to copious amounts of hard work, a fair amount of sacrifice and the fierce determination to follow my dreams.

What advice would you give to women wanting to follow their dreams?

To act on it, put the work in, start with little steps and grow them. Believe in yourself and set fear and people’s opinion aside. You can create your dream life. “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Buddha

Which book are you reading now?

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen – After visiting the Museum in Nairobi last month and the home that the book was set on, I needed to read the words she’d written about those years.

Which book can you read over and over again?

There’s more than one. Fool’s Rush In by Bill Carter, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (I’m not sure if I’ll ever let go of the vivid images it conjures up) – and absolutely anything by Charles Bukowski.

Your favourite daily affirmation.

You can do it. Almost a mini pep talk daily, encouraging myself to make the most of wherever I am, whatever I am doing, irrespective of any challenges – and be grateful.

Your favourite quote.

For Life – “A winner is a dreamer, who never gives up.” – Nelson Mandela, who I was lucky enough to meet. For Travel – “Travel. It leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be kinder to yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes and to fail; it’s in those very lessons that the best character is formed. Just hold on tight to the dream and follow your heart in your decisions, not the influences of others.

One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share.

Respect all around you and treat them kindly. That includes people, animals and the environment.

Find the full interview as featured on Xtraordinary Women, here. Thank you to Cathy Retief-Neil of Passport to the World 93.6 FM for the nomination.

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