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[10 Things I Love About...] Being The Incidental Tourist

Contributing Editor Brian Berkman asked Dawn Jorgensen, professional tour operator and according to her own words, "just a travelling girl trying to keep up with my heart's many desires", where her heart lies and how travel has enriched her life. He got these spirited responses...

By Dawn Jorgensen, www.theincidentaltourist.co.za and co-spirit at Jorgensen's Distillery.


1. Travel and exploration: I had no idea what a natural traveller I was until I started working in the hospitality industry, initially at Diemersfontein Wine Estate (www.diemersfontein.co.za) and then with founding my Tour Operating Company, Africa Awaits Tours & Safaris (www.africa-awaits.com). From this The Incidental Tourist (www.theincidentaltourist.co.za) was born as I started my journey of discoveries.

2. Culture and traditions: Straight out of High School I travelled to Israel as an exchange student. A delicious culture shock for this Free State girl; within months I had learnt a new language, religion and way of life. I stayed for four years. The need to discover more cultures and traditions had been established; this was just the beginning.

3. People: As The Incidental Tourist I meet many people both professionally and socially and have formed invaluable relationships. It has also allowed me the opportunity to become involved with an orphanage in KwaZulu Natal, to visit the Himba in Koakaland, have coffee with local Italians in Carpi, meet Gaucho cowboys in Patagonia, visit an Animist family in Benin and consult a Sangoma on the shores of Lake Victoria.

4. Nature and conservation: Conservation lies close to my heart and my blog gives me a voice to speak out against overfishing, rhino poaching and the annual Namibian Seal slaughter, among others. I believe that no action is too small to make a difference. Highest on my travel wish list is to see the Gorillas in Rwanda.

5. City slicking: I've always lived in the country, so unlike most of the world that seeks a quiet retreat when holidaying I look for cities. I've walked Buenos Aires, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and of course my beloved Cape Town. The architecture, history, buzz and energy tempt me to go urban.

6. Story telling: I love being able to Walk with Lions (www.lionencounter.com), feed elephants (www.knysnaelephantpark.co.za), have flying lessons and witness the wildebeest migration in Serengeti and then share it, with photographs, for armchair travellers to enjoy.

7. Having favourite places: What a treat it is to have favourite places, mine are diverse, from Matjiesfontein in the Karoo, to Singita Faru Faru (www.singita.com/index.php/game-reserves/lodges-and-camps-in-tanzania/singita-faru-faru-lodge/) in the Grumeti, White Elephant Lodge (www.whiteelephant.co.za) in Pongola Game Reserve, Thanda Tula (www.thandathula.co.za) in the Timbavati and the gracious Constantia Uitsig (www.constantia-uitsig.com/)

8. Collecting memories: Such as Summer storms over the Botswana bush, camping on the Mabuesehube saltpans, open skies that go on forever, crampon hiking on Perito Moreno glacier, spotting a desert elephant in Damaraland, morning swims in Arniston and cruising the Caribbean.

9. Creating Holidays: Since 2000 I have been designing bespoke holidays for visitors to Southern and East Africa. It is the most rewarding job and I view it as a gift. Working with people at their happiest. Showing off a country and regions that I am in awe of and creating lifetime experiences.

10. I've made the World home: All this said, the people I meet and sheer anticipation of discovery that I feel when travelling is wonderfully matched with memories. Truth is I make discoveries every time I walk out my front door. It leaves me hopeful, excited and grateful that through my travels I have managed to make the whole world my home.

About Brian Berkman: contributing editor, travel

Brian Berkman can be contacted on 083-441-8765 or email .
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