After an aborted attempt to record while I was on the island, if finally managed to contact Paul and Elizabeth from OnTravel when I was in Cape Town to talk about my recent trip to St. Helena. This is the first of my reports from my 3 week trip to the island.
After spending several weeks driving around Southern Africa, a week of which with my friend Shannon O’Donnell, we did a joint appearance on, OnTravel. It was a two part show where we talked about our impressions of Africa and the travels we had upcoming during the next few months: my trip to St. Helena and Shannon’s trip to Tanzania and Kenya.
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the day I turned over the keys to my house and began a life of full time travel. There are other dates close to this I could have chosen as my anniversary, but I picked turning over the keys to my house as the start of my travels because that was the point of no return.
When I began in 2007 I told everyone I would be gone for a year, but secretly I thought I might be gone for two. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think I be doing this seven years later.
Never did I think I’d be celebrating this day on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean having visited over 150 countries and territories around the world. I never could have imagined that I’d have won so many major travel photography awards, because when I started I never thought of myself as a photographer.
Today I’m embarking on a trip in Cape Town to cross off the second destination on my list: the island of St. Helena.
For those of you who have no idea where or what St. Helena is, here are some quick facts:
I visited Namibia for the first time in November 2013. What I experienced was far beyond my expectations. I found it to be a land of contradictions. It is a place where you can experience daily fog in the desert. Where you may have to wear a coat in the tropics. It has some of the oldest land and human artifacts on Earth, yet it is one of the youngest countries in the world.
It is also a spectacular place for photography. You could almost throw your camera in the air and be guaranteed a great photo.
This collection is the result of a five day trip I took into the Namib Desert and a shorter two day trip to Damaraland to visit the ancient rock carvings of Twyfelfontein. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Why NOW is the Best Time To Visit South Africa in Decades…. And By the Way, Did I mention I’m Running A Photography Tour Here in May?
As it turns out, my suspicions were correct. South Africa has gotten significantly cheaper. During my 2010 visit, the US Dollar (USD) was able to purchase about 7 South African Rand (ZAR). As of today, the dollar can now get 11.16 rand. That is over a 59% devaluation of the rand to the dollar!
To give you an idea of prices, I spent all of December in Australia. While I was there I ate several times at a popular South African chain restaurant called Nando’s.(they specialized in grilled chicken) The average meal at Nando’s in Australia would run me about US$21. The same exact meal at the same exact chain in South Africa was a bit over $7. A similar meal in the US would probably run around $12-15. That meal was also in Cape Town which is probably one of the most expensive cities in South Africa.
I’ve had many meals here in Durban where I never had to pay more than $5. The hotel I’m staying at is rated at 4-stars on Hotels.com (but I’d call it a 3-star). It is located across the street from the beach and is very nice by my standards. I’ve been paying US$38/night.
1440×900 | 1280×1024 | 1280×800 | 1024×768
2560×1600 (MacBook Retina 13″) | 2880×1800 (MacBook Retina 15″)
This months wallpaper image is of a derelict ship on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia.
This is a guest post by my friend Wes Nations who blogs at JohnnyVagabond.com. I met Wes several years ago in Bangkok and he’s been a big help to me providing graphic design on thing like my travel photography book. Wes has had some of the most interesting stories of any traveler I know, and I’m pleased that he has agreed to share one of them here.
Take it away, Wes…..
I met Karl in Flores, Guatemala, a small island town in the middle of Lake Petén. He was a massive man, tanned and with a thick head of white hair and matching beard. I wouldn’t have guessed it but he was 72 years old. He had a heavy German accent but it turned out that he had emigrated to Australia when he was in his teens and was now living in Florida. A full life.
I asked what he had done for a living and he looked down at his feet for a second before answering. “I’m not proud of it but I was a Screw“. When I just stared at him, confused, he added “I was a prison guard. Twenty five years…”
Several times in the past I’ve outlined my future travel plans, and in every case they ended up being inaccurate. Plans change, opportunities arise and some things just don’t pan out.
I present this not as an official document, but as a draft of what I know as of now. The further out in time I go, the less clear everything becomes.
Last year I announced that I was going to slow down a bit, and this year I will finally start to do that. I admit that my slowing down is still way more active than most people, but for me, it is a bit slower. I’ll be spending more time in one place and doing side trips. The result of this, I hope, is that I will be more productive, write more for this website, and finally (FINALLY) get my book done.
You can see a complete list of the countries and territories I think I’ll be visiting in 2014 if you scroll down to the bottom of my country list.