Ed’s letter: New-old kid on the block

Posted by Justin Fox on 23 April 2018

Justin Fox on a Getaway assignment in Mozambique, 1999

Why do we travel? To find ourselves, to lose ourselves, to be reminded of the beauty of this miraculous planet and its people. To experience the world in the fullest way and to embrace difference. At its best, travel can set us free and bring us to our better selves.

When I was six years old, my parents took me to Europe. I’ve never quite recovered from that journey. To see the great sights of the continent at such an impressionable age was bound to have serious consequences. The travel bug bit, and bit hard – so much so that my chosen career was travel writer. I joined Getaway as a junior journalist in 1998, replacing the inspirational Patrick Wagner, who died soon after in a plane crash while on assignment in Kenya. I cut my teeth under successive editors: David Steele, David Bristow, Don Pinnock and Cameron Ewart-Smith. From each, I learnt invaluable lessons about what it takes to steer South Africa’s most treasured travel ship.

When Sonya Schoeman became editor in 2014, the publishing industry was in a slump and sales where falling. She steadied the ship and, remarkably, turned sales around in a market where most magazines were on the slide. Much credit must go to her editorial skill over the last four years. We thank her and will miss her dearly. Now it’s my turn at the helm, exactly 20 years since I first joined this company. Over that period I served as photojournalist, deputy editor and Getaway International editor, and then spent a few years as a freelancer, roaming widely in Africa and abroad, and writing travel books. But the cycles of life are funny old things. Sometimes they bring you back to the very place you started, as though it were the most natural step in the world.

It’s a task of great responsibility filled with much excitement. Getaway is the country’s oldest travel magazine and sets the benchmark. It’s our job to continue bringing the best, affordable, local and international travel options and ideas to our readers; to tell inspiring stories packed with useful information and accompanied by world- class photography. But travel is changing fast and our readers are adventurous folk. With the growth of the likes of Airbnb and Uber, bucket-shop airlines and myriad travel apps, podcast guides and smartphone GPS, the ground is moving under our feet.

However, amid all the noise and clutter, you still need a reliable voice, a guide who really understands travel and is completely trustworthy. Most travel-information portals rely on internet research; Getaway still puts boots on the ground and values time in the field above all else. It’s a source you can return to again and again … and depend on. My shelves at home are packed with dozens of old Getaways stretching back to the 1980s. I still read them and marvel at the quality of writing and photography and the in-depth research. That won’t change on my watch. But this is only a custodianship. One day I’ll hand the magazine over to another awed, bright-eyed editor. Hopefully it will be in as good shape as Sonya and her excellent team have handed it to me.

South Africans are travelling like never before. With Cyril Ramaphosa in charge (check out his ridiculously handsome cattle on page 64), there’s a new confidence in the air. Our economy looks as though it’s turned the corner (hold both thumbs), Zimbabwe is rising from Bob’s ashes and tourism is booming. Getaway is here to serve your travel interests and desires. Talk to us, tell us what you like and don’t like, and what you want more of. Speak to us on Twitter, Facebook or email [email protected].

And enjoy this issue.

Things to look out for…

The Good-Value Star

Each issue of Getaway has several inexpensive accommodation options for under R550 pp (some for less) that we think offer good value. So look out for the star – and get booking to get out there.

This month’s contributors

Amerae Vercueil – Fish braai, page 48

Our food contributor is as much an outdoors fan as a foodie. If there’s a mountain in sight, Amerae will grab her gear and climb it, while the sea provides her with hours of snorkelling. When it comes to food, she’s a self-confessed butternut enthusiast and a nut-butter collector. 2018 braai trends to keep an eye on are: rib-eye steaks and buchu-infused beer bread, she says.

Cyril Ramaphosa – Portfolio, page 64

As the new leader of a diverse country, Cyril will have to take many bulls by many horns – and some of the horns may be as long as those of his herd of Ankole cattle. When he first set eyes on these majestic beasts in Uganda, the president was smitten, and so began a process of creating his own herd using scientific intervention, laboratory trials and a whole lot of patience. Now the prez is the owner of a magnificent herd of these hefty-horned cattle and has written a book describing his love for them and their legacy.

Ondela Mlandu – Gariep Dam, page 70

Ondela’s perception of the Gariep area had always been a land-locked region filled with nothing but papery mielie fields. So Getaway threw her in the deep end and sent her there on her own (we’re character-building in that way). To her surprise, she discovered the place is quite watery (Gariep Dam is the largest in South Africa), there are wild animals populating the veld and the dam walls are a ridiculous amount of fun.

Chris Davies– Scotland, page 96

When Rough Guides voted Scotland the most beautiful country in the world last year, Chris decided he had to go and see what all the fuss was about. On a week-long road trip from Edinburgh to hike the Isle of Skye, he found majestic landscapes, warm people and a wonderful network of hikers’ huts scattered across the beaches and beinns (mountains in Gaelic). No unicorns this time, but he’ll be back to continue the search.

This story first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Getaway magazine.

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