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Guests’ Corner: PlanetPilgrims

As part of the next instalment in Guests’ Corner – a local and international travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – I chatted to Jessy Lipperts, travel designer and blogger at PlanetPilgrims.

Originally from The Netherlands, Jessy Lipperts – founder of the inspirational PlanetPilgrims and a motivated travel designer, who loves helping travellers discover their next personalised itinerary – moved to South Africa in 2003… after which time she promptly fell in love with this new country!

So, instead of returning to The Netherlands once her five-month project was up, Jessy decided to stay and call SA home. This move also allowed her to begin following her travel dreams – and she’s never looked back since.

Since 2004, Jessy has been tirelessly organising travel arrangements for individuals, companies, NGOs and families and has enjoyed personally travelling to all the destinations, hotels, lodges and guesthouses that she recommends to her clients, in order to properly inspect and approve them beforehand.

Along with her adopted daughter, Rosie, Jessy embarks on incredible, responsible tourism experiences across Southern Africa. She blogs about these adventures afterwards, inspiring travellers in a multitude of ways.

To date, Jessy has visited some 43 countries, while Rosie has visited seven…. Follow their journey across land, sea and air, as these PlanetPilgrims bring new travel itineraries and exciting blog posts straight to you!

1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?

I started a boutique travel agency in Cape Town, South Africa in 2004 – and then, when blogging kind of became a thing in 2007, I started blogging about all my adventures, as a way of sharing them with my clients.

First I had a separate blog and company page, then I merged them both in 2010. I also started a blog around the adoption process of my daughter in 2011. (This was just to share my story for future, possible adoptive parents.)

From 2012, when I became a mother, I found it very hard to find the time to blog… But since 2017, I’m getting back into it and joined a course to learn about SEO etc., to really get my blog on track and become more professional.

2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?

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I love nature and I do a lot of road trips with my now-five-year-old daughter. South Africa is perfect for that and after 15 years of living here, I can still come up with new road trip ideas.

I also love exploring Cape Town and Johannesburg, and getting to know these cities really well.

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why?

1. Four months of solo travel in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam is definitely number one. I did a ten-day, silent Buddhist retreat and I also became a dive master… It was fantastic!

2. Then going on a trip to Madagascar with other travel agents was great. It is quite an unusual destination and the mix of Africa, Asia and France is interesting – and, of course, the lemurs are the cutest animals and so curious!

3. The third most memorable was my first trip by myself when I was 16 up to Texel, a Dutch Island, where I did a parachute jumping course and jumped out of a plane eight times!

4) What was your most memorable travel experience in SA?

In 2017, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, so I put a road trip together from Joburg to Swaziland to a five-star safari in Pongola; a great beach resort bordering Mozambique; a stay in Durban, Drakensberg; finishing off in Soweto, with a great cycling tour and a bungee jump off the Orlando Towers (for my brother’s boys).

I have many more memorable experiences… it is really difficult to choose.

5) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience and why?

We stayed in basic lodges on the Wild Coast and Eastern Cape, which is quite off the beaten track.

My favorite stay with my daughter was at Elundini Backpackers, near Hogsback. The rondavels are built in the traditional way and you stay in the village and go for walks – we even learned how to bake bread…

It was as if we were part of normal daily life – and not just tourists.

6) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?

South Africa still has a lot of racial issues unfortunately, so once we – my daughter and I, plus another mother with her adopted daughter (so basically two white mothers and two black children) – arrived at a guesthouse near the Addo Elephant Park, and we could just see the face of the owner drop when she saw our ‘gang’.

We didn’t feel welcome anywhere in that village… We tried to get food at a restaurant and no one would come and serve us, so we eventually just left and ate the snacks, which we still had in the car… Obviously, I will never ever send clients her way.

7) Your top three travel destinations (or road trips) in SA are?

Well, that has to be the Wild Coast, starting from East London all the way to Durban (although the last bit I still have to cover…).

In Limpopo province, we also did a fantastic road trip all the way up to Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge. It is a lodge that supports all the local artists by using the lodge as a showcase for their work. It also has a small art centre.

It’s really one of the most special lodges I’ve visited – and we enjoyed our day out in the rural areas, where we visited several artists and the kids played marimba.

8) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?

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1. I totally loved my holiday to Mauritius with my daughter. The island truly is a paradise island and we would love to go back. It was easy to drive around, find interesting places and, of course, the beaches and the turquoise water are just gorgeous!

2. Galápagos Islands is really high on my list to visit – although I’m a bit worried I’m going to be disappointed like I was when doing Inca Trail, which is really a mass tourist destination with 500 people starting the hike each day… It was awful!

3. So that brings me to the third destination, which has to be my current home country, South Africa, because here you can really still experience pristine nature experiences and go off the beaten track, where really hardly any tourists go… When you sign up for the most famous hiking trail, the Otter Trail, there will be no more than twelve people, which to me is much more special than the Inca Trail (which seems to be overpopulated with loud hikers, leaving trash behind etc.)

Oh, and from South Africa, you can easily pop into Namibia, which is an incredible destination for nature lovers and long road trips. There we hiked the Fish River Canyon trail in an area where no one had hiked for a year! We drank from the river, slept next to it and we didn’t see a single other soul for five days.

9) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?

I hardly have time to follow anything unfortunately – so, as it pops up in my timeline or news feed, I might read something – but there’s nothing really that I follow in particular.

I am part of the Travel Massive community and go to the events here in Cape Town… All wonderfully passionate travel professionals – and they’re great to connect with!

10) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Back to Mauritius to stay there for a thousand nights – my daughter’s wish.

11) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?

Cape Town is amazing city, with a beautiful view from each corner, so make sure your camera is charged.

Enjoy the hike up Lion’s Head, Sea Point Promenade for a jog – and please do visit the surrounding, previously disadvantages areas, like Langa or Khayelitsha to support businesses there as well. You can do lovely homestays and spend some time with a local family… It is really a wonderful experience!

12) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Don’t be scared, explore and experience… and you will meet the most amazing people!

To read about and see all of Jessy’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing blog. Or follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Thank you very much, Jessy, for appearing in this guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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