As part of the next instalment in my Guests’ Corner, a new travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, I chatted to fellow SA travel blogger, Carmen Barends.
Carmen, of travel & lifestyle blog, Meanderings is, by her own admission, “a little eccentric and offbeat”. She enjoys a good singing road trip where company is along for a shared experience. Whether it be heading out for the day or a road trip over the horizon, she’s your girl. Carmen feels that strange places and exotic faces can be found in everyday life. For her, chasing down dreams and experiences can be an everyday adventure. And she says it can be for you too!
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
The idea that there are all these little gems that are hidden away that people know little about, that should really be put out there so people can experience them.
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
Oh, goodness… Love a good road trip! Love the thrill and adventure of a little adrenaline, but enjoy the wide open spaces of nature, and the bush, and ocean. Who doesn’t love a little luxury? But, to be honest, it’s the slightly off-centre, different experiences that keep me coming back for more!
3) What was your most memorable travel experience in SA?
Well, there are two that stand out. Visiting Shayamanzi on Jozini. The staff on this houseboat make the trip great fun and the surrounds are exceptional.
Visiting a tented camp in Timbavati and walking around a non-commercial game park to make a movie with a film crew about the anti-poaching rangers… Seeing game on foot is a thrilling and different experience to have.
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience and why?
Once again, talking to the rangers in Timbavati around a fire and seeing their passion for protecting the wildlife. It was so humbling to see people who care for something as much as they do (and daily putting their lives on the line for the cause) despite the hardships experienced.
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
I drove with my brother on a road trip to Potchefstroom (North West) from Hilton in KZN a few years ago. We only left Hilton at 17:00 pm. Imagine our surprise when midway the national highway turned to a dirt road with one side open. It was playing dodgem cars with 18-wheelers while trying to find the way between gaping potholes under a full moon! In hindsight, I laugh – but it was a bit scary at the time. The road is now fixed, and a beautiful drive.
6) Your top three travel destinations (or road trips) in SA are?
3. Road tripping through Golden Gate Park to Clarens at sunset
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs, either local or international, you can recommend for following?
Following fellow bloggers on Facebook always proves helpful. It is the person-to-person relating of travel experiences that helps me make my decisions.
8) If you could travel anywhere in South Africa – or the world in general – right now, where would it be?
It gets so cold here in Hilton that I would have to say a beach destination: St Lucia or Mozambique. Or fly fishing on the flats in the Seychelles.
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city/province?
Well, I love the Midlands Meander. It is my happy place. I would suggest a picnic basket on your backseat of the car. There are so many places to pick up yummy foodie goodies, cheese and snacks that I would make a bit of a treasure hunt for the goodies and stock the basket. There are some epic restaurants and craft shops.
The Midlands Meander guide is great for locating places but I have found that the best places are the ones you stumble on along the drive. It also helps that the views along the way are gorgeous with vistas of the Berg, forests and farmlands! You can spend a whole day of meals, coffee and travels at all the places along the way and feel like you have been in a different country altogether.
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
Pack light, and take sunscreen and a camera.
To read about all of Carmen’s amazing travel stories and adventures, you can visit her blog. Or follow her Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Carmen, for appearing in this guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
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