Friday, November 15, 2013

Interview (7) - let me introduce you to Dawn Jorgensen

"A look at journeys and discoveries happened upon as The Incidental Tourist. An eternal traveller, avid photographer and natural beauty seeker, Cape Town and surrounds are home, but anecdotes, reviews and photographs from my travels in Italy, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Uruguay, Benin, Bali, Israel, Usa, Uk, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Kenya, Tanzania and my beloved Southern Africa do feature. 
In addition, as a professional tour operator I have been making Dream Holidays for visitors to Southern and East Africa for over a decade and am able to assist with travel plans to this beautiful part of the world.

My heart lies in Conservation with specific focus on The Seals of Nam and our precious Rhino. I'm a great believer that every little thing we do helps and I often speak out about Animal Rights and Environmental issues.
 " - Dawn Jorgensen

1. What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel?
I appear to have been born with a desire to explore and experience as much as I can of this world. A deeply ingrained wanderlust that I hope never leaves me. To move around, meet other people, become embodied in different cultures, to see and to taste.

2. What was your first travel experience?
I grew up in the Free State in the heart of South Africa. As a family we took annual holidays to either Durban or Cape Town. A road trip on either side, packed sandwiches, flasks of coffee, heated excitement as we hit the open roads. I remember these times with much gratitude. I long for them still.

3. Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?
Only once when I was in Vietnam in June this year. I had tonsillitis, it had been drizzling all day and my boat trip to the 'four islands' had not gone as planned. By the time I got back to my hotel room I was exhausted, ill and very hungry. Not having anybody to hug me, find me medicine or feed me, was tough. But after a shower and a walk into town, I was feeling stronger. 

4. Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?”
All the time actually as I talk to strangers, taxi drivers, hotel staff and waiters. I smile at the other guests too which I'm sure leaves them worrying about my sanity,as not all countries welcome that kind of openness. When arriving in Dublin last month I expressed great excitement to see that the passport stamps were green. The customs official stared at me with grave concern and asked - 'Are you travelling alone Ma'm?"

5. What was your best travel experience?
They are all my best travel experiences as I am lucky enough to be having them. Whether its a game drive in the Kruger National Park, crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, walking the bridge over the Niger River, eating a bagel in central park, cruising in the Caribbean, holding hands with a lemur in Madagascar, starring up at the Eiffel Tower or sipping on a coffee in Florence. I am in that moment and I feel very much alive.

6. Is there anything you would have done differently / any regrets, if you could do it over again?
I would spend less money on 'stuff' in my every day life and more on travel. Its the experiences that we carry with us. Oh, and I wouldn't leave packing to the last minute, which I always do! Taking double what I should. I dream of travelling lighter.

7. What was your worst travel experience?
No travel is bad travel with the right frame of mind and a contingency plan. Although I do often document things that are difficult to see, that are conservation themed and need exposure. Seeing a poached rhino and the baby seals of Namibia before they were culled, broke my heart. But here the purpose of my travel is to tell their stories.

8. What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?
Just language problems that arise and have me in the wrong place at the wrong time. But its these strange situations that hold the warmest memories, even if only retrospectively.

9. Where will you never return to?
I would go anywhere, often. 

10. What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
South Africa is diverse and beautiful, yet we do have a concerning crime rate in certain parts of the country and I would advise them to be sensitive to that. Not carry their valuables on them, be careful about walking alone at night and stay on the more beaten track unless accompanied by a guide. That said, Cape Town is certainly a city where a woman could spend much time alone and embrace it!

11 What are your future travel plans?
My hope is to get to Uganda in the new year to see the gorillas, to visit Tanzania and hopefully find my way back to Madagascar for further exploration. That and a lot more time road tripping in my own country. Of course Europe always beckons.

12 . What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
To anybody travelling alone I would say keep copies of your passport, an extra credit card and some cash separate from the rest. Also an emergency number, just in case.
Keep your personal boundaries. Make friends, engage with the locals. Stop to breath in the beauty.
Join some guided tours which allow you to interact with other tourists and get some local info from the guide.
(Take a good book!)

13. What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
I think that in the world we live in, we need to be concerned about safety in most large cities. Practice basic precaution, don't make yourself vulnerable. 
Walk like you live there. Act confidently. Always be polite and friendly, it works wonders.

14. Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?
I've never done it, can't say I would. However I can see how it would service many a traveller.

15. How do you pay for a life of travel?
I work hard, numerous jobs. Ridiculous hours. Save best I can. I have also worked in the travel industry for over a decade which has created opportunities for me. I travel modestly to keep the cost down and hardly ever shop, except for gifts to bring home. 

16. Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
The best was the street food and fruit in Vietnam. I choose to follow a vegetarian diet and it can't be beaten for beautiful fresh produce.

17. What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
Table Mountain from the air, every time I return home.

18. What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
My bed, my dogs, walks on the farm. Also a proper fitness regime which is often hard to keep up.

19. What item will you always carry in your backpack?
Water. iPhone. Camera. Chocolate. Notebook and Pen. At least one scarf. 

20. Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?
I meet generous people all the time, who invite me to stay with them, take me on tours of their cities, teach me about their countries, spend hours teaching me more. I could not list the number of people I now call friends as a result of my travels.

21. What have you learned from travelling?
Travel has broken down boundaries for me. Sharing my travels has built a community I am proud to be a part of. It has shown me that there is much warmth and love in this world. Appreciation too.

22. Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?
Travellers who embrace the philosophy of travel and give back. Such as Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market ( Abigail of The Inside Travel Lab ( and locally Sarah Duff ( and Meruschka of Mzani Girl (

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