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As part of the next instalment in Guests’ Corner – a local and international travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – I chatted to Taonga, travel blogger and natural hair enthusiast.

Taonga, a full-time research professional and in-between blogger, runs an elegant South African-based blog called Of Curls and Colour.

Born from a curiosity about life, a fascination with social media and an appreciation for beauty, womanhood and travel discovery, Taonga’s insightful blog is particularly relevant in our current ‘world climate’ and social media-dominant age.

When she isn’t blogging up a storm or looking for new places in Johannesburg to explore, Taonga enjoys experimenting with her hair, reading good books or drinking fine wine. 

Follow her travel-, natural hair- and lifestyle-focused blog for inspiration for your own travels, everyday life and personal beauty regime!

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

Life, cultural experiences and an insatiable curiosity for trying new things are my sources of inspiration to blog. The everyday beauty that surrounds us inspires me.

My past, my family, my friends and the anticipation of what is to come also inspire me.  

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

I would say a bit of everything but, if I had to choose, I would lean towards culture vulture and nature lover… Taking in the scenery and views of new spaces is one of my favourite activities when travelling.

I love tasting foods that are different to my own, listening to languages that are new to my ears, seeing unfamiliar faces, features and gestures.

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

Ziplining in Hermanus – and the view from the cable car in Hartbeespoort (Harties).

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

I took a road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town some years back with friends… And the landscape, the changing scenery, the distance that we covered and the stark difference between Johannesburg and Cape Town humbled me.

It was eye-opening to realise how different our provinces are… To realise how unique life in the small towns inbetween the big cities is.

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

I stayed at a shady B&B once. It was more of a hostel with the bare minimum… and they had terrible breakfast!

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

I don’t have a top three per se – but I can recommend a few places, which are fun and affordable to visit in and around the Johannesburg area.

A drive to Magalies and Harties is always perfect for getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city.

In the city, Maboneng is a good hangout for a Sunday afternoon… Menlyn Maine in Pretoria (PTA) has a good vibe for sundowners…The Village in Hazelwood is great for dining.

A trip to a coastal town never disappoints. And, if you are around in winter, you can even drive to Swaziland for the Bushfire Festival!

7) Any useful travel sites/blogs, either local or international, you can recommend for following?

I love Instagram, so I follow a few people there.

Locally, Wander with Lissa is natural and genuine, while Tastermakers Africa is more curated but has plenty of gems.

Internationally, I enjoy The Traveling Fro; she takes beautiful photographs.

8) If you could travel anywhere in South Africa – or the world in general – right now, where would it be?

Right now, I would travel to the Maldives, Zanzibar, Kenya, Amsterdam or Morocco. Or take a sho’tleft to the Berg or Mpumalanga… I have a long wish list.

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

Yeah, just go! Other than that, make sure you have a place to sleep. Research activities and plan an itinerary.

If it is an international trip, make sure you know the exchange rates and research the culture so that you can communicate easily with the local people – and so that you do not offend your hosts!

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Immerse yourself in the experiences… All of them. Make friends with other travellers, with the receptionist at the hotel, the taxi driver or the door attendant – they always know the good spots and have handy tips… Also, don’t be afraid to ask for discounts!

To read about and see all of Taonga’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing site. Or follow her on Instagram. Thank you very much, Taonga, for appearing in this South African guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!

The post Guests’ Corner: Of Curls and Colour appeared first on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography.

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In late November, I had the pleasure of being invited to dine at Gåte Restaurant. This Stellenbosch-based fine dining restaurant lies on the rejuvenated Quoin Rock Wine Estate. It is, to put it frankly, a place where culinary science and stunning design merge.

This is surely one of the hottest new restaurants in SA – and I am sure it can rival the best in the world too. (And it hasn’t even been open a month!)

Stellenbosch Has a New Fine Dining Winner

While Stellenbosch is no stranger to impressive fine dining restaurants, Gåte Restaurant is an entirely different breed of restaurant. It is a most intriguing fine dining establishment.

I think I have been involved in the restaurant review and foodie scene for long enough now to recognise unquestionable quality. As well as to know what to look for in South Africa’s best restaurants…

Even so, I was mentally unprepared for this. After our visit, I still feel a sense of lingering, mind-blown awe.

Quoin Rock and Gåte Restaurant leave you hopelessly awestruck. They take your understood standard of quality and raise it a few notches.

The Man Behind the Magic

Situated on the positively stunning Quoin Rock wine estate, Gåte is fronted by world-class, Michelin award-winning executive chef, Rikku Ò’Donnchü.

Chef Rikku is a man who needs very little introduction. To date, his star-studded culinary career has included stints with The Fat Duck (under Heston Blumenthal), Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry – and locally, The Caviar Group.

And yet, despite his numerous accolades and stellar career, Chef Rikku is companionable, welcoming and completely unassuming. There is no hint of airs and graces with him… His respect for his fellow staff and customers certainly shines through when you meet him.

Along with a stellar team of kitchen and waiting staff – including the likes of head chef, Warwick King, head baker Rikki and head waiter, Rufus Scholtz to name but a few – and top-class general manager, Troy Truter, Chef Rikku has brought interactive and molecular mind-blowing fine dining to the Stellenbosch Winelands.

What Gåte Restaurant Offers

Gåte Restaurant provides interactive food experiences, jaw-dropping plating and presentation and quite possibly the best, all-round service I have encountered at a South African restaurant to date.

Both the 40-seater restaurant and estate will rival the best South Africa has to offer – although they are aiming (and striking) far higher than that already. World-class? Absolutely. The only remaining question is: where will they stop?

Arriving in Style

I need little invitation to dress up when I venture out into the Cape Winelands. But even so, a fine dining experience calls for something a little more elegant than usual. So, dressed to impress, it was time to venture to Quoin Rock.

Despite driving in peak-time traffic from Bellville, we made good time and arrived at 18:30 pm sharp. The recommended arrival time is 18:45 pm, as dinner begins at 19:00 pm.

We used the extra time to look around. Passing through the boom entrance, we drove up the vineyard-lined drive, which was amassed with rose in full bloom.

Once we had parked and taken in the beauty of the wood-dominated entrances, marking your arrival at both the estate and the restaurant, Troy came up to greet us.

That small gesture alone already spoke leaps and bounds for the establishment, as this was something he duly did for each arriving group or couple.

Quoin Rock: Where Natural- and Manmade-Marvels Meet

As we stood outside, Troy shared some insights into the architectural design and art features with us. He explained that Charles Haupt is the artist behind the incredible sculptures and statues, while Julia Gaiduk is the genius behind the estate’s incredible external and interior designs.

The Gaiduk family – who bought Quoin Rock over in 2012 – clearly have an eye for class and creativity… This can immediately be witnessed on arrival. One look at the imposing, all-glass venue hall (formerly a warehouse) in front of the restaurant and tasting room – and you will understand what I mean.

The building is utterly gorgeous from top to bottom. I love how, through its crystal clear glass panes, every inch of this lush estate reflects back at you. (It will soon reveal a cigar lounge too – though that hasn’t opened just yet.)

Standing in the middle of the cobble-stone space, we took in the sights and sounds. In front of the event space, a male sculpture crouches in resignation, surrounded by a pool of shallow water. Beyond him, rolling lawns, dotted with trees and stone paths, flow unhindered down to the vineyards.

Set in a secret valley, encircled by the noble mountains and vineyards both, Quoin Rock offers one of the most outstanding natural backdrops. I have visited many wine estates, consistently raving about their natural and architectural beauty… but this newly revived estate is next level stuff.

As I commented to Troy – feeling genuinely stunned by the natural beauty-meets-modern-design precision – the estate really could not be better situated.

As you glance up in wonder at the majesty of the Simonsberg mountains, the cries of estate peacocks punctuate the evening stillness, sending ripples through you.

Expectation hangs in the air – and you know a night of magic lies before you.

Stepping Inside Gåte Restaurant

After some quick snaps, it was time to head inside for dinner. Passing down into the reception area, beneath the impressive, flowing archway, we were greeted and offered refresher towels and a delicious passion fruit and MCC-inspired drink. (This was positively divine and just what you need to set the mood!)

The foyer has several eye-catching elements – from single rose vases to bonsai trees and bronze statues – but it is the tree of life, as I like to call it, that grabs your focus. This stunning central feature by Charles Haupt is absolutely marvellous.

Surrounded by beams of running water, with spotlights set within its base, it introduces the earthy, modern-meets-edgy theme. (Something that bleeds through into the restaurant.) I also like that it hints at the estate’s rebirth.

Unlike the event space, Gåte speaks to the natural elements of the estate. Think vineyard-twisted archways and pergolas. Or beautiful, wooden Pierre Cronje tables and pin-pricks of beaded lights,  illuminating the space like stars in the night sky.

Best of all is the breathtaking, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, which stretch from one side of the restaurant to the other. Even the part overlooking the cellar (a place of egg-shaped fermentation containers) is just glass. The effect is incredible, as you dine with the best possible Cape views at your disposal.

Make an Early Start – It’s 16-Courses After All!

We sat near to the cellar side and for the duration of the night, were served by the excellent Connor. Humourous, knowledgeable and politely attentive, he really went out of his way to ensure a wholly memorable dining experience.

I wanted to take photos of the interiors so, despite his advice that we should start early (something we regretted ignoring later…), we only began our 16-course taster menu..

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As part of this special instalment of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to Melissa Gundry, owner and photographer at Honeybee Photography.

Melissa Gundry is the brilliantly talented owner-photographer behind Honeybee Photography. Honeybee Photography is the place where she showcases her passion, which is evident in every image that she captures. 

She describes herself as a “natural light kinda girl, working to afford her flash”… And while her main focus is on photographing people and capturing life’s special moments, I feel Melissa is capable of photographing anything. 

Melissa offers incredible talent, precision, thoughtfulness, kindness and above all, truly beautiful, elegant photo results.

Her photography prowess varies widely, meaning she can assist you with all your photo shoot needs. This can include: a matric farewell, family/couple shoot, graduation, travel shoot, birthday celebration – or even for a blog/wesbite!  

Melissa is absolutely wonderful to work with, shows extreme professionalism and respect and makes you feel totally at ease during her photography session(s).

Note: Melissa is responsible for the professional bio photos and portrait images seen on my blog’s About page, as well as those used for my social media handles/profiles too.

From my own experience, I can certainly recommend her both personally and professionally… And happily, she is always keen to photograph new people or collaborate with her fellow creatives. 

Please do check Melissa’s work out and make contact with her; you certainly won’t regret it! 

1) Who or what inspired you to go into photography?

I had no idea what I wanted to do growing up. Photography was always there at the back of my mind – but I thought I could do better.

I wouldn’t say it was a person who inspired me but rather my passion for creating beautiful images and storytelling.

2) What inspired you to call your photography business ‘Honeybee Photography’?

The day I was gifted my first DSLR, a Canon 450D, I was eager to test it out. I found myself in the garden, capturing the tiny detail of the dew drops on the grass and the glittering green body of a dragonfly, as it landed on a leaf.

Now for those who don’t know, Melissa means ‘honeybee’ in Greek. This first experience with a DSLR camera, coupled with the meaning of my name, meant it was only natural that I’d go with Honeybee Photography! I like to think it holds meaning for me, where I started. And I think you can agree it has a nice ring to it!

3) What do you love most about travel and photography as a shared experience… Like when you recently visited the UK and enjoyed adventuring and taking some incredible photos over there?

For me, it’s documenting those special moments in one’s life. I grew up in a house full of photo albums… I have the need to show others my experiences and memories and share my happiness with them. What I capture has meaning to me even if it doesn’t to someone else – and I’ll always look back on them with joy.

I brought so many special memories back with me from the UK and I was able to share them all through what I captured.

4) Which came first: a love of travel – or a love of the lens?

That’s a tricky one! I think they manifested around the same time. As I mentioned, I grew up with photo albums – and several of our family albums have photos from our time in Ireland when I was younger… Photos of snow-laden fields and cathedrals with glass-stained windows. I think these albums, and the memories of another world beyond South Africa, instilled a desire within me to see what else is out there.

I’d sit in the evenings on Pinterest creating boards of places I wanted to travel, pinning images of turquoise oceans or a serene lake sitting below snow-capped mountains. I realised I didn’t just want to be in these places – but I wanted to be behind the lens of these beautiful photos and create some myself!

5) Do you feel that your camera allows you to see the world differently – particularly when you travel about? And if so, how?

Definitely. I feel that I notice a lot more. I don’t just see the scene, I see all the endless opportunities and angles.

I don’t just see a field during sunset… I see a field, which is lit up gold, the sky turning a pastel pink and purple, creating this soft glow over everything. And I want to not just capture the whole scene – but to capture the details too.

I feel the camera gives me an appreciation for the beauty of an empty field and all it possesses despite this… I don’t think many can say they feel that.

When I was in the UK, I visited a lookout point. From where the car was parked, I could see rolling hills and a tiny village at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t just take photos from this point because there is always a better angle. This is what is so brilliant about travel: the endless possibilities!

6) What are your top three destinations in South Africa?
  1. Darling
  2. Jeffreys Bay
  3. Stellenbosch
7) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Give me an island paradise with clear blue waters, please!

8) Name three places anywhere in the world you would love to visit for the first time – or even just re-visit.

1. England again!
2. Scotland
3. Switzerland

9) What advice would you give to someone starting out in photography, be it portrait or travel-related?

The best advice I can give is to learn manual mode and shoot in RAW. I’m most grateful for learning those. Those who shoot in manual had to learn the skill and you’ll feel a sense of achievement and pride in yourself for having learned it.

I also say if you can’t afford a course, watch YouTube. There are enough educational videos and you can be entirely self-taught and successful… These days, it’s all about social media and finding something, which sets you apart from the crowd.

Find what you enjoy – and stick to it, work at it, perfect it. Do it because it gives you joy – not because everyone else is doing it!

10) If time and money were not an issue, would you ever create a website or online portfolio (other than social media) for showcasing your work?

Yes, I’d love to! My favourite thing to do is to scroll through websites and browse wedding albums or portrait sessions by my favourite photographers. It’s just that in this age of social media, I can comfortably do that on Instagram or Facebook.

So when I do have the time and money, I’ll have a website – but for now, while I grow and learn, you’ll find me on social media!

To see Melissa’s incredible work, you can visit and follow her Facebook page or Instagram feed. Thank you very much, Melissa, for appearing in this special guest travel segment – and again for the amazing professional photos you did for Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust.

Photo credit: Honeybee Photography – Melissa Gundry.

The post Guests’ Corner SPECIAL: Honeybee Photography appeared first on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography.

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Tucked away in the picturesque Elgin Valley – itself an extraordinarily beautiful, fruitful place – and set on the slopes of the majestic Hottentot Holland Nature Reserve mountains, one discovers the incredible Cape Canopy Tour. This is where, visitors conquer new fears or return to familiar outdoor territory.

At Cape Canopy Tour in Elgin, one can look forward to epic ziplining. This means sailing through the skies, like an eagle, as you traverse the beautiful mountain folds and river gorges. This memorable outdoor adventure is interrupted by nothing other than the wind whispering through the secretive cliffs…

Best of all, at Cape Canopy Tour, the agenda is simple: stay safe and have bucketfuls of fun!

What To Pack in on The Day

On the day of your trip, the most important thing is favourable weather conditions. This is because it gets extremely cold and windy up in the mountains. If conditions are deemed unsafe, cancellations/rescheduling may occur.

This happened to us the first time we were meant to go – but, in hindsight, I am really glad that our first date was cancelled… The weather when we went a few weeks later was perfect – not too hot, not too cold – and there was no rain and very little wind!

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In terms of what to bring along, I suggest the following:

  1. At least a warm, fleecy top or windbreaker jacket. This will need to be put on before you get into your harness. So just remember if you leave your jacket off, there’s no putting it on later.
  2. There are no clothing requirements but I recommend active-wear or shorts and a t-shirt. Purely because the harness and safety cables hug you closely and aren’t entirely comfortable (although you get used to it). You can also don a peak cap or Buff headwear, if desired. Note: In rainy conditions, rain gear is provided on-site.
  3. Pack in sunscreen. Our South African sun is no joke – and you are out in the elements for four hours solid. There is always a chance of burning, even in seemingly cloudy weather.
  4. Ensure you are wearing comfortable shoes. Although this is not a strenuous outdoor activity, your body gets tired so you definitely want comfy shoes. And there is a one kilometre hike at the end, so easy walking is essential.
  5. Finally, cameras, GoPros and smart phones are all allowed – and, when possible, photography is encouraged. However, please be advised that taking these with is entirely at your own risk.We took our smart phones and my Nikon camera, which we safely stowed away in a plain backpack. This was perfectly safe and, despite my fears beforehand, at no point during the trip was I worried about my camera getting damaged or anything getting lost.

Tip: In closing, I would suggest arriving at the destination least fifteen to twenty minutes before your trip is scheduled to start. So plan your route in advance. (Travel time from Cape Town Airport is 50 km – and 40 km from Caledon.)

Arriving at Cape Canopy Tour Elgin

Although the entrance requires a slight detour at present (largely due to flood damage from winter rains) and some slow, careful driving… Once you arrive at the reception area, the excitement of adventure mounts and nerves first appear.

You begin your check-in process by tapping your details into a touchscreen. This is to sign the indemnity form, provide your contact details and choose your complimentary, post-tour pie… You can choose between a springbok, chicken or spinach and feta pie from the famous Peregrine Farm Stall, another Elgin gem. The pies are excellent, so be sure to savour yours afterwards!

Check-in Time for Our Ziplines

Tours run for approximately four hours (our time slot was the Saturday 14:00 pm – 18:00 pm time slot – and the timing was spot on, even with a slight delay in setting off). Because of this, you do build up quite an appetite… ziplining is hungry work, after all! You might also get thirsty, so take a backpack with water or sports drinks along. Otherwise, you can secure a 500ml water bottle into your safety harness.

If you require ‘supplies’, there is a lovely little cafe/shop, Sunbird Cafe, with a host of snacks, ice-creams, cool drinks, water and more for purchase. And some great indoor and outdoor (deck) seating to enjoy while you wait. (I also exercised extreme maturity by enjoying some time on the outdoor swing! :))

Also, because you are out in the mountains for four to four-and-a-half hours, it is strongly advisable to use the bathroom before setting off. (Although, as our guides joked, what happens in the mountains, stays in the mountains…)

Gearing up for Adventure… Cape Canopy Tour-Style

Once check-in is complete, the friendly, efficient Cape Canopy Tour staff will guide you through the preparation process. This begins with a fun, yet vital safety briefing. Along with your fellow tour members, you will run through the three golden safety rules. It’s important to pay attention and listen carefully during this session, as it’s essentially all you need to remember for your experience – but crucially important nonetheless.

Each tour experience has two guides: a lead and a safety guide. The lead guide always goes first – and once all tour members have gone, the safety guide follows. For our tour, we were assigned to Tommy (lead) and Nicky (safety) – and I might be biased but I feel we had the best guides!

Groups are usually kept small, with eight participants maximum, and each group member chooses their ziplining number. If you are in a pair or friends’ group, you can choose among yourselves. In our case, we chose numbers one and two. This meant that we would be up first after our safety lead… No pressure, right?

Your helmet (numbered in the order you are going to zipline) and safety harness come next. Your guides will assist you with these and ensure they are secure – both when you first put them on and before you set off on the first zipline.

Setting off into the Hottentot Holland Mountains

Once you are geared up and most importantly, weather-permitting, your guides will explain about the filming process. Because, if they can shoot, your adventure will be captured on a nifty GoPro and a video will be sent to you a few hours after your tour has ended.

We were filmed in snippets for basically every leg of our tour and it really added to the experience. You get to relive the experience afterwards (and share across your social media, if you like!). And remember, show how much fun you are having on the tour – you’ll love watching it play back later.

From there, we finally set off, hopping onto a personalised Cape Canopy Tour 4×4 vehicle. Vehicles do offer minimal cover and they are comfy and secure, but remember to hold on while you enjoy your ‘African massage’ (the road can be bumpy)!

If you have younger children (there was a boy of six on our tour), please request a guide secures them with a cable for added safety. It works really well and provides added parental peace of mind! I must say, I was surprised to see a child that young on the tour.

However, if you bring a young kid along, you can have them zipline in tandem with a safety guide. Our safety guide, Nicky, was absolutely amazing with this little boy. She shielded and secured him around herself, meaning he was just as safe and excited as the rest of us.

We Are Going Higher and Higher and Higher

The 4×4 drive up into the mountains adds to the experience. This is your first taste of the fresh mountain air and the imposing setting, as cliff faces, valleys, distant dams and fauna and flora provide an amazing natural backdrop.

Your local guides are extremely knowledgeable of the area and all that dwells within it. So take note of all the insights they provide; it’s fascinating and educational. (We also had some fun spotting weird rock formations… Mr Smiley and the Shark rock were particular favourites!)

As you travel up, you might pass hikers or fellow ziplining teams. And, just when you think a vehicle can’t possibly ascend any higher into the Cape fold mountains – it does!

The drop-off point offers a particularly stunning vista, so have your camera/smart phone at the ready for that. I loved gazing off into the distance, seeing sights like Theewaterskloof Dam and the reserve’s hidden valleys.

Few regions in the Cape are as spectacular and rich in nature as the Overberg Region… It’s a priceless experience in and of itself. (Although I am not sure many people truly take the time to appreciate the beauty; they’re far too excited about the adventure at hand. :))

Time to Be Brave!

Once you disembark (there are excellent stair mounts, which make getting on and off the 4×4 vehicles wonderfully easy; such a treat!), your guides will give you a pulley. This must be attached to your harness at all times.

You will also receive a pair of leather gloves. If you are left-handed like me, please mention this in advance so that you can get your ‘special’ gloves. It is vital that you have your gloves, especially for your strong, dominant hand, because they protect your hands a lot. And even though at times I was convinced my gloves would catch alight (what can I say, I’m exceedingly paranoid and overcautious…), they really handle the cables and speeds well.

From there, gloves in hand, we headed off down the beautiful, fynbos-lined path, towards our first zipline platform and slide.

13 Platforms, 11 Slides, A Swing Bridge – and Plenty of Fun!

Cape Canopy Tour offers thirteen sturdy wooden platforms. These serve as a type of ‘launch pad’. They are also where you stand in signal file, waiting for your guides to give the go-ahead to zipline across.

Then, of course, there are the eleven zipline slides themselves – which allow for varying speeds and lengths – and one bouncy bridge. Above all, this is four to four-and-a-half hours of epic fun.

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As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to travel blogger, writer and photographer, Delphine of LesterLost.

Born and raised in France and now residing in lovely Sydney (a place she has called home for twenty years now), Delphine is a curious traveller, blogger, writer and photographer. Through her beautiful blog, LesterLost, Delphine inspires people to travel, far and wide, with her insightful writing and gorgeous photos.

Having grown up with travel-loving parents – and then meeting her Australian husband in Vietnam, it’s safe to say that Delphine was destined to travel the world with her loved ones – and to share her adventures with others online too.

Her blog, which she started in 2015, mixes travel stories and handmade experiences. Delphine shares her stories and encourages her readers to visit new destinations for themselves.

When she isn’t travelling, Delphine enjoys crafting and sewing… And though these are a far-cry from road trips and hiking, her passions merge nicely.

Follow LesterLost for your next travel inspiration, courtesy of Delphine!

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

I actually got into blogging through my interest in craft. I was reading sewing blogs and I was looking for a creative outlet.

At the same time, I remembered I was actually really good at travelling too! So, I decided to write about my two passions – but more recently, travel has taken a lot more space…

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

I enjoy a good mix of beautiful nature, culture, food and relaxation. I think if you mix things up, you are more likely to have a balanced and genuine experience. My problem is that I tend to ‘power-travel’; I want to see so much I don’t always take enough time in one place…

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

1. Driving in Morocco was fantastic. I went there a lot as a child and, in more recent years, I let others do the driving. I remembered the roads as being cluttered and dangerous. But last time I went, I was behind the wheel most of the time, including on some pretty tricky roads… It was a great way to visit the country – and not as difficult as you would think!

2. Visiting Uluru and the Red Centre of Australia is an unforgettable experience… I also drove to Kings Canyon and did the Rim Walk in 40 degrees Celsius… It’s not for the faint-hearted but I love a good hike and the view from the top was gorgeous!

Uluru is a spectacular sight, and quite mysterious as well. It’s slightly odd to pay so much attention to a rock stuck in the middle of nowhere, isn’t it? As strange as it sounds, the attraction is to approach the rock from different angles and watch the changes in colour at different times of day.

3. Taking the cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps was a highlight of my last trip home. I was doing a renovation of my family home with my husband and a friend and we were working very hard… We took a day off and headed to Chamonix for a break.

Being so high up, so close to the top of Europe, was a thrill. The majesty of the mountains was very humbling. It felt like a fantastic reward. I took some wonderful photos and we even had some beautiful sunshine over the glistening snow…

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why?

I’m French but I’ve been living in Australia for twenty years. Whenever I travel around the country, I am always humbled by how much Australians are proud of the beauty around them, and how dedicated they are to preserving it.

They are very aware of how special their country is and very respectful of the wildlife and nature around them. I didn’t get that impression so much growing up in Europe. And I’m much more comfortable living in a country where nature is celebrated.

5) Worst (local) travel experience?

I went to India with my father when I was 18. I received a lot of attention from people on the street, especially men, and I found it quite jarring. I was overwhelmed by how large the crowds were. It was also my first experience in tropical heat… I couldn’t handle the spicy food very well either…

It was a lot to take – and I was very glad to go home in the end. The cultural sights were amazing but I felt I didn’t get to experience India properly… Maybe I’ll go back some day!

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

I grew up in France and I would love to spend some time there as a blogger. It sounds silly but I’ve been away for twenty years and I miss it. I would like to do a comparison of what it was like growing up there and visiting as a tourist.

I have been going to Morocco since I was a child, so I know it quite well. It’s very different to the place I grew up in and the place I now live – but I feel strongly connected to it… In Australia, people can be quite hesitant about visiting Morocco. And I hope that my experience is useful in showing that it’s a great destination.

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

Right now, I am itching for Japan… I am fascinated by the culture, the food and the infinite detail in everything. People returning from a trip to Japan always tell stories of an exotic but welcoming country.

As a crafter and seamstress, I would love to visit their craft and fabric stores and learn more about their unique handmade techniques.

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

Experiencing the life of a Sydneysider is easy: go around on the ferry, spend some time at the beach or have a barbecue with friends. Sydney life is outdoors; nature is everywhere and the sights are gorgeous!

Sydneysiders are very blessed with an easygoing and casual lifestyle, and that’s the best thing to experience. I take the ferry everyday, passing the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It’s the only gift I need to have a good day!

9) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

When visiting a new city or country, the best thing to do is to mix it up: visit a museum or a landmark, take an excursion around town. But also experience the food scene and do some shopping… I find that doing a variety of things gives me a genuine idea of the place.

As a traveller, you should be true to yourself. Do things that you really enjoy – you don’t have to follow the tourist trail!

To read about and see all of Delphine’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her awesome blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The post Guests’ Corner: LesterLost appeared first on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography.

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As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to writer, traveller and coach, Christie of Christie Adams.

Christie Adams is a woman who has, thus far, lead a very colourful life… It has taken her to many interesting places and given her many fascinating experiences – and over the course of time, Christie has been paying things forward in the most wonderful ways.

Today, her passion and enthusiasm shine through in her self-named blog, Christie Adams, which is where you can find her inspired writing, coaching and travel-related content.

Christie is a keen writer, coach and traveller, who is focused on sharing her love of travel, writing and books with everyone she connects with.

Above all else, through her own world of travel and words, she is motivated to educate and inspire others to widen their horizons and find their own voice in this world.

For some healthy motivational articles and great travel ideas, be sure to follow Christie online!

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

I started a personal blog six years ago, to share my journey, as so many friends had asked me to let them know what I was up to. I didn’t know what I was doing but am proud to say I built it from scratch, learned all the techy stuff and am now a proud geek.

My blog is a place I can share my passion for writing, books and travel. It is a constantly growing site. Not just growing in readership, but in my ability to share things of myself. I’m an introvert and very private person, so this has been the biggest change…

The whole philosophy behind my blog is to help others see that life is a journey. You don’t have to travel to the other side of this awesome planet to be a traveller… You don’t have to be a bestseller to write. You can pick up a book from a charity shop to read. The world is accessible, if you want it.

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

I’m not an adrenaline junkie, and it depends how you define thrills… I’ve overcome my fear of flying and even coached a young woman back from a panic attack on one flight. My fear of bridges is also a thing of the past (Sydney Harbour, I salute you!), so next is my fear of heights… maybe!

I love temples, churches, mosques, Uluru, any place of spirituality. And I’m an architecture fan, so I love a good city – especially if they combine greenery within it. Yes, nature lover – but not in a wild camping way… yet. Beaches are better than pools – but my own little hot tub in Santorini wasn’t too shabby!

Wherever I go, I have a book and pen (hence my blog’s byline) and a camera.

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

1. My honeymoon: I never thought I’d marry, so that was a wonderful shock. Then to go to Asia and see Angkor Wat and Phi Phi island… wow! We lost loads of photos by leaving an SD card in the hotel computer – but I hold the memories in my head. A great reminder that it’s so important to look through your eyes, as well as your lens.

2. As a single mum, I struggled to travel far and wide. So we stayed in the UK, camping, hostelling and walking, so we could see things outside our little bubble of work and bills. Then, when my daughter was about seven-years-old, we took our first trip to the Canary Islands. We bought bread, cheese and a bottle of water and just caught a bus somewhere different every day for a week… I’m glad to say it was one of her best holidays. She liked it more than Disney!

3. I started backpacking overseas in my 50s, although I’d always been going to hostels in the UK. Some consider me brave or foolish as I go on solo trips… Pisa is where I started my solo journeys and it’ll be forever imprinted in my memory. The lone coffee and cheesecake, as I watched the selfie mob, was a really emotional moment for me – in a good way!

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why?

I live in Yorkshire, UK and I recently decided to recommit to being a tourist here too. So often we take for granted those things on our doorstep. So watch out for some more UK-based blog posts!

It’s so hard to pick just one experience. I’ve met so many amazing people that it’s hard to choose just one, as simple gestures humble me most…

I think eye-opening was sailing on Loch Ness and realising just how vast and black the loch is, and how tiny and ignorant we are of what lies within that deep open space… I hope we never find Nessie, as sadly it probably wouldn’t survive.

5) Worst (local) travel experience?

I’m amazingly lucky to say I’m struggling to think of one, apart from losing an SD card, which is hardly traumatic in the scheme of things.

We got ripped off by a taxi driver in Thailand. But once we worked out the currency and realised it was £5, we laughed about it.

I cried on Sydney Harbour Bridge, but I walked through that fear and am so glad I did it… Missed a connecting flight, but I was thrilled to tick something off the bucket list, ‘Have you named called out over the airport tannoy!’

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

I’ll leave out all the beautiful places in the UK – and all the amazing, gorgeous cities too… so my Top 3 seen places are:
– Angkor Wat
– Vietnam
– Australia

My Top 3 unseen places are:
– Niagara Falls
– Hawaii
– Costa Rica

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

All the usual, Trip Advisor, Booking.com, YHA and Skyscanner etc.

1) BaldHiker
2) Nomadic Matt
3) Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, of course!

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

As I write this, I’m packing for my next trip camping and touring with my hubby in Western Australia. I might even get to swim with a whale shark… One day, I may even build up courage to do a cage dive with a great white but not yet.

After that a beach in the Middle East will give my batteries a refresh. I love swimming in the sea, so hopefully the jelly fish will swim on by!

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

I live in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, which is a town, even though it has a cathedral – or rather a Minster – and it’s known as ‘sunny Donny’.

There’s a horseracing track, so come on a race day in your hat. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a must. They have a fostering scheme for polar bears and are a part of numerous breeding and protection schemes for wildlife of every size and description… Sad that we need such places, but this is a great one!

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Be kind and smile. Talk to locals. Be respectful of local cultures. Spend locally. Split your money into various hiding places. Trust your instincts. Take half the clothes and twice the cash.

Get off the beaten track sometimes – but don’t be too stuck up about being a tourist. The jump-on, jump-off buses can be a great way to learn about places. (Wow, sorry, maybe this answer is too long?)

I think the best advice I can give is to do the long haul while you can… So many people put off ‘big’ trips until they retire, are settled or have more money or – you get the idea…

Just work it out and do it, as you may not have the health to do it later. And you sure as heck won’t want to lug a backpack onto a 12-hour flight when you’re older either…

To read about and see all of Christie’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her awesome blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Thank you very much, Christie, for appearing in this guest travel segment.

The post Guests’ Corner: Christie Adams appeared first on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography.

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As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to Jess of travel and photography blog, Longest Bus Rides.

Jess is an avid traveller, with a passion for photography, travel and culture. Through her incredible, visually stunning blog, Longest Bus Rides (inspired by a month-long trip around Mongolia), Jess tells her fascinating travel stories, sharing breathtaking photos as she goes. 

She believes in wandering – be it about a village in Spain or Indonesia – and she always endeavours to head off the beaten track. Ideally, she also enjoys discovering foods she has never eaten before – although she’s sworn off coagulated blood, goat testes and frogs for good… 

Jess believes in travel for the sake of travel, which is no doubt why her adventures have seen her visit six continents and around 30 countries.

Follow her beautiful blog for a heady dose of travel tales, tips and wonderful photography.

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

I had an amazing solo trip around Mongolia for a month and wanted an outlet for posting my stories and photography.

I had so much information – and fascinating, little stories to share. And I thought it could help other travellers, who were planning their trips. Especially those wanting to get off the beaten path… There was a dearth of information when I was researching for my trip.

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

I would have to say that I’m a little bit of everything. It really depends on what I’m doing that particular day. But I generally enjoy anything that’s new to me and which provides some kind of learning experience. For example, cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa was a great experience. I entered nature in a way I hadn’t before, learned about the ecology and behaviour of these sharks.

Meanwhile, a day’s drive away, I’d been in Lesotho (the tiny country within South Africa’s borders), where I rode a pony several hours from the nearest road. And spent the night in a village, where I got to hang out with a bunch of women and partake in the maize alcohol they’d made and ate boiled sheep with greens and pap. (Ground maize, boiled to a consistency of rice).

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

1) In Haiti I’d hiked to the top of a mountain with a local friend: To check out a village that might make a good host for a day tour for foreigners volunteering nearby.

As we began hiking back down, a guy came from behind on his motorcycle and offered us a ride down. I don’t think he drove very fast, since the road was steep and stony, but I have never wanted to wear a helmet more in my life. Squished between these two men, I apologised each time I screamed in their ears. But it was really scary bouncing and skittering across rocks!

b. Doing laundry on the Mongolian steppe: After driving through the Gobi Desert and then horse trekking across the steppe, my clothes were pretty dirty… My guide and I stayed one night in a village he didn’t know but found a woman who rented out a spare ger.

Walking by another ger, I saw that inside was a washing machine… I will never know what a washing machine was doing so far from any road or electricity, as neither my guide, nor the woman spoke English. However, I pointed at it. My guide knew me pretty well by then and helped me negotiate a price for a load of laundry. I had to pay $5, plus take a truck down to the river with a couple of huge rain barrels. Using smaller 5-gallon buckets, my guide and I filled the big barrels.

Upon our return, the washing machine was connected to a generator and I put all my clothes in along with some water. Myself, the woman, my guide and a couple of other people watched as the wash cycle began and the water turned brown. The woman added powdered soap. When the water turned brown again a minute later, she added more soap… then more soap. Finally, she gave up and my clothes went through the wash cycle in brown water…

c. “Run!” My guide turned to run and I wasn’t sure what was happening. It was just the two of us in the Kenyan forest and I’d just been admiring the huge butterflies this area is known for. “Run,” he ordered.

In my flip flops and patterned orange sarong I ran after him. After a minute we stopped running. “I thought I heard forest elephants,” he explained, describing them as small but very dangerous animals. That was the first I’d ever heard of this kind of elephant. They’re differentiated by tusks that point slightly inward, giving a narrower profile to more easily move between trees.

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why?

My home country is the United States. It’s really eye-opening how varied ‘American’ culture is in different cities and states.

Food is a great example: Hawaii has poke (marinated raw fish, similar to ceviche), which was nearly unheard of in California until the past several years. And, living in California, we have California cuisine.

Also, in major foodie cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York people have come from all over the world and opened restaurants from their own home countries, like Ethiopia, Peru, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma)… Meanwhile, when I visit the Midwest, it’s totally different with local food more along the lines of barbecue, steak and potatoes or biscuits and gravy.

5) Worst (local) travel experience?

One day, I wasn’t far from home when I saw a family that appeared to be Muslim (since the woman was wearing a headscarf)… The family was crossing the street with their little kids, when some African American women drove up and yelled at them, “Go back to where you came from,” and obscenities.

I felt really helpless in the crosswalk, as the family hurried past me, since we were pedestrians in the road. The mean people were in a car, inching toward us threateningly. I had no idea what to do, other than let them hurry away and watch to make sure the bad people didn’t follow them…

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

Poland, Cambodia and Mongolia, in no particular order, are my favourites. You should visit all of them as soon as you have the chance!

Can I add a fourth? Visit a country in Africa and do a safari! Safaris are available in all price ranges (even self-drive) – and there is nothing in the world like watching a wild animal close up.

Three destinations I’d jump at the opportunity to visit are:

Anywhere there’s a total solar eclipse. I recently saw my first in person – and it is definitely one of those natural events that makes you stop and watch.

Ethiopia and Rwanda are already on my list, as I have friends and family serving as Peace Corps Volunteers there. I was a volunteer myself. It definitely gets you living in the country, which is totally different from the average expat living in an expat community.

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

Lost with Purpose is the only travel blog I read, and even then, only occasionally. But I should read it all the time. The articles leave me laughing, as the author has a sense of humor that I love!

I always keep an eye on the travel website, TravelPirates.com, because fairly frequently they have airfares to some part of the world I haven’t visited yet for a very good price.

Sure, why not follow my blog if you enjoy off-the-beaten-track destinations. It’s called Longest Bus Rides… since I’ve been on a fair few of those!

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

China. I’d love to trek through panda territory, trying local cuisine and seeing if I can spot a panda in the wild.

Plus, Xi’an looks like a fascinating place to visit, as it was on the Silk Road. It’s a huge country and has so much to see, both in terms of culture and nature.

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

If you ever visit San Francisco, California you should definitely visit places. And do activities that are in the Top 10, like visit Alcatraz, ride a bike or walk across Golden Gate Bridge and ride a trolley car etc.

However, you should also research a few neighborhoods and read about the history and learn the culture. For example, the Mission District is fascinating. Plus, it has the best taco shops and my favorite doughnut shop!

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Wander. Whether it’s for 20 minutes or days… Just wander around wherever you happen to be. You’ll discover something you never would have put on your itinerary. Or, maybe you’ll just get a little bored. Or, maybe you’ll get a little lost and have to find your way back… Whatever happens, take a quick photo to commemorate your mini adventure.

To read about and see all of Jess’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her awesome blog. Or follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you very much, Jess, for appearing in this guest travel segment.

The post Guests’ Corner: Longest Bus Rides appeared first on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography.

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