Every year, the whole of my high school goes away and spends a week in nature, be it hiking or paddling. This year, as is a custom at my school and many other schools across the country, we spent five glorious day on the Orange River, which serves as a border between South Africa, and our neighbouring country, Namibia.
We drove up (it took almost 12 hours), and after multiple toilet breaks and burger stops, we finally got through border control and were in another country (!!!). Being out in nature with school always make my heart so full. Without much signal or technology (I always make a point of leaving my phone at home), we have so much time to just chat to each other and engage and connect in ways that the busy everyday school life doesn’t really leave much room for.
We paddled for three of the five days, and the other two days were for traveling. The Orange River is so beautiful. We’d start in the morning, and pull up to a sand bank for the night just as the sun was setting.
I can’t quite put into words how it feels to fall asleep after a day of paddling down the river, with the moon and stars above your head, huddled in a little group, sleeping amongst some of your favourite people, whilst listening to the sound of water running gently over the rocks, and listening to the chirp of insects. It’s magical to say the least. Whilst the paddling was physically taxing at times, it was so fulfilling and it makes me a little teary if I think about it for too long because my longing to go back is that great. We have a beautiful continent, that’s for sure.
Recently, I spent a calm weekend at the Rocherpan Nature Reserve near Velddrif. Even although the pan isn’t completely full, there is an abundance of birds, beautiful vegetation and serenity. As far as I know, there is one main hiking trail within the reserve, and a picnic spot. There are also a few bird hides that allow you to observe the birds peacefully in their habitats.
We stayed at the eco cabins (Cape Nature) which are nestled in the reserve with beautiful views of the pan and the surrounding reserve – a lovely place to wake up in. I spent most of my time reading my book and just appreciating the beautiful surroundings and breathing fresh, clean air.
If you’re looking for a place to decompress and leave the stress of city life behind, this might just be it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always kept journals. Whether they’ve been to organize my life, unscramble my mind or document my memories, it’s just a part of who I am. I’ve always kept a written record of my travels, and over time, this process has evolved. I truly treasure my travel journals. There are so many tiny details that are easily forgotten if not documented.
I’m sharing my system of travel documentation with you. Firstly, I use two places to store my memories. I have a journal that I usually carry with me on travels and fill in daily (more on that later). Then, I also have a scrapbook album with photos that I print out after the trip. This album doesn’t travel with me and is usually completed (way) after I get home.
This little book stays in my backpack when I travel. What I usually do is write in it in pencil and collect all my memorabilia in a pouch in the back. When I get home, I re-write things in pen, add things in, and use my stamps, washi tapes and stickers to make it all pretty. I also stick in all my memorabilia and arrange everything nicely. My last few trips have been super jam-packed, so I haven’t had time to journal every day. What I’ve been doing is writing quick notes on my phone every night before bed and then writing them into my journal when I have some time to do so, or on the plane home. I’ve really been enjoying this system.
I haven’t been very good with doing this, mainly because my previous scrapbook was a huge 12×12 inch book that took up a load of space and wasn’t very fun to work in. It required too much stuff to fill the pages. So, I recycled the left over paper and rings and made a smaller, cuter, more fun album. I’ve finally gotten around to scrapbooking my Europe photos and will move onto my Mauritius photos after that. I’m a very visual person, so I really enjoy haveing physical photographs to look through. Also, found things (shells/coins/rocks/etc.) are my favourite kind of souvenir. They are my treasures.
I hope this has given you some insight into my documenting process and that you’ve got some ideas for your next trip.
I recently visited the beautiful island of Mauritius with my family and it was a welcome break from the extreme cold we’ve been experiencing here in South Africa. We spent our time at a resort on the north-west side of the island, and although it was a bit chilly and wet sometimes (it’s winter there too), it was bliss. I thoroughly enjoyed some timeout to just read on the beach, swim and relax. Anyhow, here is my photo diary of the trip. Enjoy!
I never thought I’d end up in Poland. Am I glad I did? You bet. The city of Kraków stole my heart. What a charming, unassuming place. Its not a place that is really hyped up about in magazines and on travel blogs – I’d consider it underrated in the least. It has a vibe like no other, holds so much historical importance and the architecture is so very beautiful. We did a walking tour of Kraków, explored in the little tourist shops and all in all had a ball. Its safe to saw that Kraków was one of my favourite places that we visited (although I did love them all)!
Florence has a sort of slow, laid-back atmosphere, that contrasts the business that is Rome. Florence is simply lovely. We only spent one day there, so I don’t have too many photos, but this lovely place left its mark on my heart. The little market square selling every delightful leather product you could think of and the warming atmosphere are incredible. The streets have such a calm, quiet feel in the evenings and its the kind of place that you can’t help but fall in love with…
The Duomo in Florence blew me away. The intricacy of the marble detailing is just mind-boggling, and as a person who dapples in the arts, I felt a deep appreciation of the craftsmanship and time that was required to create something quite so exquisite. None of the detail on the facade is painted – it is all inset in marble.
Throughout my trip, I tried to not let taking photos dictate my every move. I took quick snaps of things I saw that inspired me, but I wanted to see and embed my travels into my memory, rather than my memory card…
After traveling around Europe for the past twelve days, I am home. It was the best way I could possibly have spent my first two weeks as a sixteen year-old.
Traveling has woken up a part of me that I knew existed, but haven’t been very familiar with. It makes me hungry for adventure, and makes me want to do and see as much as possible. My heart is full of wanderlust, my head is full of inspiration and ideas and my gallery is full of photos. Being home feels a little strange, I’ll admit. But coming home is part of the journey.
This trip was very different for me. It was the first time that I flew without my parents, and I learnt a lot due to the fact that there were so many things I had to do for myself. Even although it was a school trip and we had two teachers with us, we checked in ourselves, managed our own money, and were responsible for ourselves. I learnt a lot about the places I visited, but I learnt even more about traveling and myself in general, and how different things are in other countries.
I certainly am hungrier than ever for adventure and travel. I think its safe to say that the travel bug has bitten!
Over the next little while, I’ll be sharing some words and photos of the places I visited over here.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
After a lovely breakfast at the country estate we are staying at, we set out to explore the Midlands Meander. The weather was humid and there was a storm warning too!
There are a few really cute crafty stalls and shops all along the meander. Some of my favourites were the Junction and Piggly Wiggly. The Pizza Place make THEE BEST pizzas ever!
We visited a few more stalls, then went to the incredible Nelson Mandela Capture Site. It’s so beautifully designed and an incredible work of art.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these travel diaries! They’ve been a fun way for me to record my trip too! I’m flying back tomorrow! It’s been a wonderful holiday, but I do miss the Mother City.
Have a good holiday, SA people.