Today, you’re in for a treat! I have the pleasure of Alicia at Chamaille.online guest posting about how the pandemic affected her travel plans and the amazing adventures she’s had, despite the year that’s in it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading as much as I did.
When South Africa’s lockdown hit on the 26th March I fortunately had no big travel plans. I wasn’t going overseas. (At least not anytime soon and I didn’t have anything booked). But the weekend our three-week lockdown was meant to end, I was meant to drive an hour and half out of the city to the sleepy sea-side town of Betty’s Bay where we would celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. Like most countries, our lockdown was extended and put a firm halt to our travel plans.
It was then that the real wanderlust kicked it and I found myself looking at travel websites, guides and photo-essays. More than ever, I was itching to get out and explore the mountainsides, the valleys and the oceanscapes that surround the Western Cape. Not being able to travel and capture the beauty of the outside world on film made my heart yearn for it all the more. While fulfilling my wanderlust through virtual and imagined trips across the globe I found my eyes turning more and more to a place closer to home: Namibia.
I started comparing modes of travel, accommodation types and planning a TBD trip to the country just north of my home. The more I researched it, the higher up it went on my bucket list. And while it’s still out of reach for the moment – it’s too expensive for one thing – it made my gaze turn evermore inwards. Africa is a vast and beautiful continent. And while I plan to explore it properly one day, I’m content to start in my own backyard.
As our lockdown phased out and restrictions began to ease, I planned a few hikes including a breathtaking hike along Mont Rochelle’s Uitkyk trail in Franschhoek and up to Paarl’s Rock. I hadn’t done either hike before and to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the hikes is an understatement. After struggling most of the way up Mont Rochelle, I was ready to throw in the towel when I was met by the astounding view of snow capped peaks in the distance. (The western Cape is not known for its snow fall and any dusting sends Capetonians in a frenzy). Paarl Rock was equally breathtaking with its rolling valleys and impressive rock formations.
One of the unexpected pleasures that our lockdown bought was that my boyfriend and I had weekends free. (He works in the hospitality industry). So when a friend asked us for the umpteenth time whether we wanted to go to his holiday house in Hermanus – another little sea-side town – for the weekend our answer this time was a resounding yes! What followed was a chilly weekend filled with good food, good wine and good times. We played games, walked along the coast in search of whales and hiked to a dam.
No sooner were we home than my plans for my next getaway were underway. Despite asking my friend when we could go back to his Hermanus home, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to travel there again until December at the earliest. While I sadly looked at various weekend getaways that would never happen, a close friend was in the middle of planning a family trip. He hadn’t seen his family in almost a year as they live in a different province but with the pandemic still at large, he was cautious of flying. It was this concern that led to us – my boyfriend and I – being invited on their family trip.
We made the 16-hour drive from Cape Town to Johannesburg in a single day on the 23rd of September, spent one night and then drove with his family the four hours it would take to reach Magoebaskloof. The four days we spent in Magoebaskloof were filled with giants from the tallest planted tree to giant baobabs and elephants. The days were filled with adventure and photography and the evenings filled with laughter and banter – as any good holiday should be.
We made the return journey home in much the same way as we made the trip up. We invented our own version of “I Spy” and talked about nonsense while blasting music the whole way. With my eyes fixed on the horizon, my mind began to wander to my next weekend away, my next adventure and my next holiday. So while my travel has been limited, I’ve been able to explore my own country more than I thought I would. The pandemic has made me value local trips and as we say here in SA, local is lekker.
Alicia is a curly-haired, 20-something freelance writer and photographer. She’s also an avid horse rider, a bookworm who doesn’t read enough and a proud dog mum. She comes from a tiny village in France, was raised in Cape Town and lived a few years in England. She enjoys travelling, loves food, enjoying eating out and finds cooking soothing. In July 2020, she launched an online portfolio to showcase her writing and photography where she shares her journey with you.