As part of the next instalment in Guests’ Corner, a local and international travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, I chatted to Stephanie Marthinus, South African travel blogger (and passionate small town promoter).
Despite working a busy 9-to-5 as a Digital Marketing and Communications Officer (for an IT Law Firm) and juggling a part-time role as a PR and Marketing Coordinator for a bespoke fabric store, through her blog and social media feeds, the talented and passionate Stephanie Marthinus has fast become one of the Western Cape’s best tourism promoters around…
With her fiance and equally eager travel partner, Courtney Hans, Stephanie chases everyday travel adventures, unearths little known gems and exposes her followers and readers alike to amazing, new ‘dorpies’ (small towns, for all the English folks…).
If you are looking for local travel inspiration for the Western Cape and South Africa, accommodation ideas or fun activities to enjoy, then follow Stephanie’s fun and inspiring travel blog for the freshest ideas, best places to visit and bucketfuls of small town charm to boot!
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
From a young age, my family travelled to various places around the Western Cape. Unfortunately, the recession in 2009 hit hard, so we no longer had the extra cash to splurge on holidays.
I knew that whenever I start earning an income, I would love to explore more. I started my blog in 2014 in the hopes of venturing out to see and do more – and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
I would say I’m a bit of everything but lean more towards being a culture vulture, learning the history of small towns or cities – and a nature lover because I love being outdoors among wildlife, staring out at the vast landscapes… and I’m a greenery kind of girl so trees and plants are my best friend.
3) What was your most memorable travel experience in SA?
My heart was aching to be in the Eastern Cape, so last year, my fiance and I combined a few of our favourite must-see places in a 11-day road trip. It started off in the Garden Route, exploring Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay. We drove into the Eastern Cape to experience Tsistikamma to walk along the Suspension Bridge and spent two days in Addo.
The Karoo was one place I needed to see, so we drove to Prince Albert and was mind-blown by the dry terrain landscapes… I will definitely do it all over again!
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience and why?
Our mission as a travel couple is to explore all 193 towns in the Western Cape and the more we visit small, rural towns, the more we realised that less is more. Many of the smaller towns live off a tiny or no income, so the community is always there for one another during the good and bad times.
When we came back from our visit in Goedverwacht – a town riddled with poverty, but has so much love and history to offer – I examined all the things I had and made a conscience decision to donate unnecessary things to charity. It made me realised just how materialistic I was…
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
Plettenberg Bay was not all that I thought it would be. I maybe hyped myself too much since so many travellers and enthusiasts spoke so highly of the town.
Firstly, there were hardly any accommodation in our price range and we ended up in a half-complete place. The weather wasn’t on our side at all (which made us spend less time outside) and we got the feeling that the town was a bit pretentious…
Maybe I’ll have a different perspective if I visit for the second time.
6) Your top three travel destinations (or road trips) in SA are?
1. The Garden Route is a scenic drive everyone needs to do at least once in their lifetime. It’s exceptionally beautiful with magnificent landscapes and coastal views… I’ll do it all over again in a heartbeat.
2. Route 62 from Robertson to Port Elizabeth is a favourite for me. We only did it half-way up until Barrydale but it exceeded our expectation! I see why CNN Travel voted it the best road trip destination in the world so we are forced to complete the route.
3. Not forgetting to at least visit Addo Elephant National Park… We missed out on the safari drive because we failed to book in advance, so we opted to do a self-drive and we got to see way more wildlife then we anticipated!
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs, either local or international, you can recommend for following?
There are so many! Going Somewhere Slowly, Mzansi Girl and Travel Opulent Box are my favourite local bloggers at the moment, but there are many up-and-coming ones who truly promote local travelling in the good old South African style.
8) If you could travel anywhere in South Africa – or the world in general – right now, where would it be?
The Northern Cape, as well as Namibia, are two places I ache to visit – but I love doing local adventures and promoting small towns in the best possible light. We tend to overlook villages and run to visit big cities… but I would rather drive to small towns to find little gems.
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?
I reside in the Western Cape and we’re spoiled with choices. Make sure to book a stay well in advance, especially if it’s a popular place. Do research or simply ask bloggers who have been there before for advice.
I ask, particularly if I’m unsure of the road – whether it’s gravel or tarred. Read reviews if you’re not sure about something but don’t overplan too much – or you might miss out on hidden places you have never heard of!
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
Start travelling in your own backyard first before planning an international trip. You might be surprised by what you will find. Paternoster is honestly a slice of Greece, and Prince Albert makes me think of Namibia. Cape Town is not the only (city), so plan to see various small towns.
Make sure you have your camera handy to snap those memorable moments – but have a social detox once in a while and enjoy the experience.
To see all of Stephanie’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Stephanie, for appearing in this South African guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
Author: Tamlyn 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.