Before I actually started traveling, I remember spending a great deal of my time daydreaming about being a traveler. Entire afternoons would pass by, especially during my university years, where I did nothing but try to envision myself exploring every region of the world. Whether it was Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, the South Pacific, Caribbean or Africa, just the thought of being there was more than enough to put a huge smile on my face.
But I would always try and go beyond simply ‘being there’. I wanted to imagine myself participating in specific activities, meeting specific people and experiencing actual life-changing moments.
It’s funny because right now, I can easily picture myself during a typical day at university, sitting in the library trying to study for exams. I might read a few pages of my economics book and do my best to stay focused, but most likely I would quickly lose my concentration instead. Closing my book, I would lean back in my chair and take a few deep breaths, and within a few seconds be transported to a land so far away, a land where…
I’d be able to drive along a windy coastal road, passing through small, quiet towns and alongside endless stretches of pristine beach. Maybe there would be a penguin nesting area to visit and perhaps some wild baboons might wander down from the hills, jump on my vehicle and come along for the ride…
Or maybe I’d daydream about a land where I could just hop into a microlight plane and soar high above a surreal landscape of sugar estates and farmland before soaring even higher over the deep blue ocean.
Sometimes I would whisk myself away to a region of the world where mountains so green made me feel as if I’d wandered straight into the most fantastic of fairy tales. While in this region I might go on a wine-tasting tour, stopping at the most well-known of wineries, those with names such as Vrede & Lust and Delaire Graff. At these wineries I would taste endless varieties of Shiraz and Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay while nibbling on the freshest and most creative of dishes, all of which were crafted from delicious locally-produced ingredients.
For a moment, I might actually snap out of all this daydreaming and suddenly remember that my economics exam was only one day away. But usually that wasn’t even enough to stop me and I would quickly close my eyes once again and continue with my journey.
This time around I might find myself climbing to the top of a mountain for stunning views of a city that is absolutely one of the most beautiful on the planet or maybe hiking my way through an impressive and wildly mysterious cave system deep underground.
I would then imagine myself eating the most divine of meals, perhaps some Indian-influenced cuisine unlike any other I had ever tasted. And when it came to sleeping, I would imagine myself spending my nights in a variety of places, from atmospheric hostels to unique budget hotels (such as Delicious Hotel) to jungle-like lodges (such as Umlilo Lodge) and maybe even a a luxury hotel on the beach (The Views Hotel works for me!) every now and then.
And during the evenings, maybe I would join some others travelers and participate in something incredibly unique such as a Sea Turtle Safari where we could watch massive, 1,500 lb (700 kg) leatherback turtles laying their eggs in the sand.
Of course, everywhere I went during these daydreams, I was always meeting interesting and kind people, from shopkeepers to strangers on the street to other travelers to enthusiastic tour guides. Some of these people I would interact with for just a few minutes and others for a few hours or even a few days or more. I dreamed of being invited to stay in people’s homes and of spending time with locals who would take me on a brilliant tour of their country while opening my eyes to a culture and land I knew very little about.
Eventually, however, my ‘trip’ would always come to an end and my approaching exam would finally find it’s way back to the top of my priorities. Sitting up straight, I would re-open my economics book and start reading where I left off several hours before. But even as I studied, a little part of my brain would still remain fixated on the wonders of travel, on the mountains, wildlife, wineries, beaches, jungle lodges, adventure activities, interesting people and the endless stream of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
And I always hoped that one day I would have an opportunity to transform those daydreams into reality.
Well, fast forward to three months ago…
It was the final day of my adventure in South Africa and as I sat in the van that was driving me to the airport, staring out the window at a countryside I once never thought I’d see with my own eyes, I realized that so many of the things I used to daydream about had come true in this one country.
Everything mentioned above is from that trip back in December. And that is why I’m fully confident that, no matter what your own travel dreams may be, you will also be able to turn many of them into reality with a visit to the diverse, extraordinary land that is South Africa.
Anyone else spend long hours daydreaming of travel? Where do you wander to and what do you envision yourself doing?