The Incidental Tourist

Dawn Jorgensen talks about her love affair with travel

Dawn Jorgensen is a writer, beauty seeker, earth advocate and photographer. She is also one of the top 10 travel bloggers in South Africa.

What is the inspiration behind your name: ‘The Incidental Tourist’?

Dawn Jorgensen is a writer, beauty seeker, earth advocate and photographer. She is also one of the top 10 travel bloggers in South Africa.

I started a tour operating company in 2000 with the express purpose of showcasing Southern Africa as best I could to international tourists. Over the years I travelled much with clients and benefitted from every journey - it’s Incidental that I am a tourist and traveller. After selling my company in 2010 I took my love for travel to a public forum by starting my blog, where I share anecdotes on all I have been lucky enough to experience.

How did your love affair with travel begin?

I grew up in the Free State. My parents took annual road trips for lingering summer holidays that left us sunburnt, revitalised and very happy! The sheer joy associated with new experiences and changed scenery is imprinted in me - as long as I remember I have chased travel and new experiences.

Where were your most recent passed and upcoming trips?

The travel gods smiled on me last year in 2013 with trips to Vietnam, Madagascar, England and Ireland, as well as the Kruger National Park, the Overberg, Cederberg and numerous local explorations. I am just back Nieu Bethseda and in February 2014 will visit Rwanda before going Gorilla Trekking in Uganda. 

The very best local and international place you’ve travelled to?

I've been to many places that I pinch myself remembering. Yet I fell in love with Madagascar, specifically the Palmarium Reserve on the East Coast. Also a small village in Italy's Umbria called Montane. The simple way of life and sense of warmth and community in both these villages, however different, left a mark on me. In South Africa, White Elephant Safari Lodge in Pongola, Northern KwaZulu Natal and the Overberg coastline, especially Pringle Bay and Arniston, remain favourites.

Why should people read your blog?

My blog should read like an online coffee table book for armchair and actual travellers. I bring my stories to life with photographs and words. I try to capture the essence of the areas that I visit and the people that make them special, offering useful information too. Its a more intimate look than your average guide book, evoking feelings and emotion, interest and hopefully a desire to visit these places whilst dreaming with me about those to come. If I can achieve that, I will be forever proud.

Tell us more about your passion for conservation?

I'm an advocate for conscious living, an animal lover that's more than just a little green-tinged. My passion for the earth and her ocean is ever on the increase as I see both their beauty and vulnerability. Having spent much time on safari in various game reserves and being exposed to the challenges that we face with poaching and game management, I chose to become more educated and involved. I have a conservation theme to my blog and hope to build awareness. If I can encourage more respect for the earth and its animals, it would be a wonderful thing.

If a picture speaks a thousand words, which of your images tell the best stories?

Somehow it comes back to people and cultures for me - children specifically. I meet and photograph children wherever I go. It’s interesting how many similarities there are in children around the world. That and stray dogs and cats, which I can't get enough of either. Yet it’s in documenting events and action, ceremonies and activities that I feel my photos speak loudest.

How has the platform for travel bloggers evolved over the past years?

When I started blogging four years ago there were mostly lifestyle bloggers with food and wine closely following. I was one of the only travel specific blogs that I knew of. Today I am a proud member of a South African travel bloggers network and attend international travel bloggers workshops to connect with other travellers and writers around the world. It’s a platform that is growing and gaining credibility for the role we play in promoting our countries and the places we visit.

Tell us about your recent accolades/successes in the world of travel writing/photography?

I have been mentioned as one of the top travel influencers on Twitter and listed as one of the top 10 travel bloggers in South Africa. But winning a travel writing competition last year with my article on Benin, and two air tickets with it, has been my highlight.

What have you crossed off and what still remains on your personal bucket list?

A lifelong dream of mine is to see the gorillas and my upcoming trip to Uganda will make that a reality. New York, a glimpse of The Caribbean, a taste of Europe and linger in Argentina have all delighted. But my wish list holds high driving Ireland, Myanmar, Peru and a return to Madagascar.

What should a seasoned traveller never travel without?

A camera, a good phone (for sharing as you go), an open mind and a warm heart. I always take lots of scarves, a good book, notepad and pen and chocolate.

What do you look for when choosing a new travel location to experience?

Quite often the destinations arrive by chance, but when planning it’s important to have an idea of what I hope to get out of the trip and what has drawn me to an area or country. Is it to partake in an activity, see the sights or simply immerse myself in a new and different world.

What has been your biggest lesson learnt through travel?

Gratitude, patience, compassion, that my boundaries are guidelines and that nothing is black and white. And that one should always be nice.

What is your advice to aspiring travellers?

Have a travel fund - put your extra money away.Dream. Plan. Travel. Be considerate and kind. There's a whole world out there - from being a tourist in your own back yard to that dream holiday - it all counts to the growth of who we are. I personally cannot hide from this quote - "Travel. It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller." And that is true of us all.
Twitter @dawnjorgensen