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, Sara Essop.
Sara Essop is a passionate local travel blogger, influencer and writer based in Johannesburg. As a child, Sara would get lost in the pages of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, exploring with her mind. This carried into adulthood, no doubt inspiring her love of travel. Her blog, In Africa and Beyond, was previously listed on Feedspot’s Top 50 Africa Travel Blogs list. This well-deserved recognition saw her placed among stellar travel writing company. Sara loves discovering and exploring exciting places around the globe. To date, she has been to 40 countries, and always welcomes new opportunities.
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
I’ve always enjoyed travelling and I’ve always enjoyed writing. In 2013, I decided to combine both my passions and create a travel blog. It’s a great way to document and remember my travels with my family and to share it with others who are looking for travel ideas, tips and inspiration.
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
I’m a combination of culture vulture, nature lover and history buff.
3) What was your most memorable travel experience in SA?
My most memorable travel experiences in SA must be the luxury safaris I adore, specifically, those in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, and Madikwe Game Reserve in the North-West Province. Travelling on the luxurious Rovos Rail was also amazing.
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience and why?
Not exactly local – but I recently went on a road trip to Lesotho, which is just four hours away from Johannesburg. It was both humbling and eye-opening to see how the lives of our neighbours are so vastly different from ours. There is a lot of poverty there, and many people still live in traditional huts and use the traditional modes of transport, like horses and donkeys – yet they seemed so happy and contented.
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
My worst local travel experience had nothing to do with the place I travelled to – which was beautiful. We had just arrived in St Lucia on our first holiday in a long time and were enjoying a leisurely boat cruise on the estuary, admiring the hippos, when we received a phone call to say that our house had been broken into, resulting in a lot of damages. We didn’t return home immediately but, needless to say, it was difficult to enjoy our holiday after that…
6) Your top three travel destinations (or road trips) in SA are?
It’s hard to choose top three but here goes:
1. Cape Town. It’s a world-class city where there is always so much to see and do.
2. Mpumalanga. It boasts stunning natural beauty and some of the most amazing game viewing in the world.
3. Madikwe Game Reserve, also for the excellent game viewing
If I can be sneaky and add a fourth, I’d add the Garden Route, a +/-300 kilometre, picturesque route, interspersed by rivers, lakes and lagoons, and flanked by sandy beaches and pretty little towns.
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs, either local or international, you can recommend for following?
For finding cheap flights, I’d recommend Travelstart, Skyscanner and Momondo. For accommodation worldwide, I’d recommend Booking.com. You can find accommodation to suit your needs but still have the option to cancel free, until just before check-in (for most places). I also always use TripAdvisor for recommendations and advice from other travellers.
8) If you could travel anywhere in South Africa – or the world in general – right now, where would it be?
In South Africa, I’d love to visit Namaqualand during the flower season, and The Hole in the Wall at Coffee Bay in the Wild Coast.
Internationally, I’ve been to 40 countries but there are still so many places I want to visit: Spain, Namibia, Japan – and somewhere where I can see the Northern Lights – are some of them.
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city, Johannesburg?
I would highly recommend a morning on the City Sightseeing Bus, starting outside Gold Reef City (as early as possible). Do the Soweto Route as well. Once you return to Gold Reef City, visit the Apartheid Museum. If you still have time left, end the day with some adrenaline-pumping rides at the theme park.
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
For locals, there is so much to see in South Africa. Explore our beautiful country first before going abroad. Or at least, alternate local and international holidays.
For tourists, if you have limited time, do your research properly before visiting South Africa, so that you can gain maximum benefit from your time here. Also, be aware of your surroundings and don’t carry unnecessary valuables with you.
To read about all of Sara’s amazing travel stories and adventures, you can visit her blog. Or follow her Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Sara, for appearing in this guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
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