5 reasons why we travel

Posted by A on 4 August 2017

Since my return from an assignment uncovering the Northern Cape’s hidden treasures – a province known for its open and vast landscapes – I’ve been thinking a lot about our desire to travel. Engaging with passionate locals in the Northern Cape, getting stuck into some crazy adventures like surfing the Kalahari red dunes on a sand board and rafting down the Orange River truly revived my desire to explore unknown territory.

Whether across the ocean or down the street, we have an inescapable need to plunge ourselves into the unknown and make discoveries about our surroundings – and beyond. Here are 5 reasons why I think we love to get on the road and venture into the unknown.


1. To have authentic experiences with people

For travel to be truly significant, it should afford us the opportunity for authentic, life-changing encounters with strangers – who can often end up as friends. These encounters can only take place outside our immediate and known environments. By exposing ourselves to people from different backgrounds, we broaden our worldviews and become progressive people who are accepting of difference.

While in Askham, we stopped at Aunt Koera’s Farm Kitchen for a roosterkoek and lamb stew. That evening, fellow journalist Melanie Van Zyl, Deon Pienaar from Open Africa, Auntie Koera and I bonded over a delicious home-cooked, candle-lit dinner. She cooked the supper on an open fire and we sat under the stars in the wide Kalahari sky talking about her passion for feeding people and sharing the unique Nama cuisine with visitors. I was truly moved by her passion and generosity to share this special (and delicious) heritage.

Aunt Koera preparing dinner at the Erin Game Farm. Photo by Melanie Van Zyl.


2. To get active

Aside from all the physical benefits of exercising, the release of endorphins when we are active makes us feel good and reduces stress. You have to be active and push your limits to get an adrenaline rush. Boarding the Kalahari red dunes got my heart thumping with adrenaline and left me wanting to push my body even further for the thrill. There’s something about a good thrill that heightens our alertness to the beauty of being alive.

Dijeon Pienaar from Open Africa gliding down the Kalahari Dunes. Photo by Melanie Van Zyl.


3. To indulge in idleness

As great as all the activity is, part of the sweet indulgence of travel is an escape from routine and the opportunity to relax. Italians revel in this form of indulgence by allowing themselves small moments of escape from daily routine (two-hour compulsory lunch breaks, I was told). The Italian way of life centres around Dolce Far Niente; pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness. We are rejuvenated by a trip when we allow ourselves moments to stop on the side of the road just to stare at the fields, or observe the rippling of waves coming and going on the beach. Indulging ourselves in idleness is a reminder of how we can find freedom from routine by choosing to take time out from it.

Welcome Lishivha with Dijeon Pienaar from Open Africa watching the sunset in Hondeklipbaai. Photo by Melanie Van Zyl.


4. To step out of our comfort zones

It is when we get on the road and travel that we get to challenge ourselves and find out who we are. On the road, heading towards unexplored horizons, we find the versions of ourselves that would remain otherwise undiscovered when, say, sleeping in.

Identity is a matter of constant recreation – and there’s nothing as good as travel for getting a sense of perspective. The limited ideas of who you think you are become insignificant in the grand scheme of what’s out there. Driving through the vast and open landscape of the Nama-Karoo on a long road that seems to stretch the hands of time is a good reminder of how small human beings are. Especially in comparison to big mountains, the wide open sky and the vast cosmos. When you go ahead and step out into an unknown area, you allow yourself to experience thoughts and feelings that stretch your understanding of who you are.

Northern Cape Orange River rafting

Floating down the Orange River at sundown. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.


5. To learn and tell stories about the world

From these authentic encounters, we get to share meaningful stories about the world and about ourselves. I’d go as far as saying that if it wasn’t for the human ability and desire to travel, there would be no literature or stories to tell – important stories that ignite and fire up our imagination to carry on building a better society. In sharing our travel tales, we have the opportunity to transport the listener or reader across distance and time to spaces they wouldn’t ordinarily be afforded the time and resources to visit.

Then again, although we all love a good story nothing beats first-hand experiences. When we travel, we collect stories that belong to us, stories through which we get to share our experiences of the world. After my most recent trip to the Northern Cape, it delights my heart to share the hidden treasures I discovered within my country and how you can experience them all yourself.

Taking a walk at the Erin Game farm with Patat Van Wyk and Oushe Raad. We got to talk about how they juggle living in a world that’s increasingly modern while holding on to ancient traditions of the Khomani San.


Read the story in the August 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Our August issue features 14 Northern Cape treasures, a trip along Mozambique’s pristine beaches on a fat-bike, holidays to take if you want to learn a new skill and so much more. 

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