Ed’s letter: Here’s to our 30-year safari

Posted on 18 March 2019

This month, Getaway celebrates its 30th birthday and the April issue pays homage to three decades of travel and adventure. Thirty years is a long time in magazine life. Many fine publications have come and gone during that period, but Getaway has stayed the course, continuing to produce world-class travel journalism for a loyal readership.

Justin Fox shooting the cover of The 30-Year Safari in Namibia, 2008. Image: Jacqueline Lahoud.

Our magazine was founded at an auspicious time in South African history. In that year, 1989, FW de Klerk became president and would later announce the unbanning of the ANC and release of Nelson Mandela. The country had been cut off from the rest of the continent during the latter stages of apartheid, but now borders were reopening and South Africans could travel north once again. Getaway rode the tide of that optimism, often being the first to send journalists into places that had for long been out of bounds. It was a thrilling time to be working as a South African travel writer and photographer.

In the ensuing three decades, Getaway continued to excite armchair travellers and inspire the adventurous to explore our continent. More than any other publication, I think it has truly captured the spirit of African travel. At a rough estimate, our 30-year safari has entailed some 6 000 journeys, filling more than 30 000 pages and producing hundreds of thousands of images. Assignments have found our photojournalists riding camels through the Sahara, hot-air ballooning above the great wildebeest migration, scuba-diving Red Sea wrecks, summiting Kilimanjaro, sailing down the Niger to Timbuktu and trekking across Antarctica.

Since the early days, our focus has shifted. Much of the beauty we’ve encountered is threatened by the multi-pronged assault of corruption, pollution, poaching, overpopulation and climate change … by greed in all its guises. We’ve come to learn that we must be agents of change, educating ourselves and our readers about the need to save and preserve. Through highlighting the splendour of our continent (and beyond), and inviting readers to get out and explore, we also call on them to conserve our precious heritage and to be ecologically mindful.

To celebrate our 30th, we’ve chosen the 30 best holidays in Africa, dividing them into 10 categories with a winner and two runners-up. In researching this huge, 61-page feature (starting on page 73), we’ve sent our journalists the length and breadth of the continent.

Also in this issue, associate editor Caroline Webb looks back at the very first Getaway of April 1989 and our initial year in business. Deputy editor Catherine Hofmeyr (who first joined the magazine in 1994) interviews the founder, Alan Ramsay, and we asked the five former editors – David Steele, David Bristow, Don Pinnock, Cameron Ewart-Smith and Sonya Schoeman – to weigh in on their time at the helm.

Darrel Bristow-Bovey rails against the fuss around birthdays, Gabrielle Jacobs chooses the 30 best African travel books of all time, Pippa de Bruyn picks her top 10 ‘Final Cut’ places for a special celebration, and Matthew Sterne lists his choice of South Africa’s 30 most iconic travel-gear items. Plus, this month’s Getaway Gallery (page 36) features some of the team’s favourite photographs from our brand-new coffee-table book, The 30-Year Safari. Look out for it in bookstores.

Getaway has become synonymous with the finest African travel journalism and photography. This issue is a tribute, and a heartfelt thank-you, to the many talented folk who have made it so. It’s been one helluva ride.

Here’s to the next 30…

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