Liebster Award

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire!”

So here I am, brand new at this game of blogging and trying my best to find a quiet minute to sit down as often as I can and write. Write about my adventures that include 100% bush, write about the wildlife I love so much, write about Africa and my slightly crazy life.
And along comes lovely Samara from freedom chasers & hippie diaries, who has probably one of the biggest hearts I know. She is currently traveling somewhere in Asia on her way to Europe and decided, on a whim, to nominate me and my still meager blog for the award, nudging us along to create something.

I am really honored and humbled by this, as apparently my story hit home, which I would have never really expected.
We met through a group Samara co-created, connecting women from all over the world and all walks of life with the same insatiable passion:
Traveling. Exploring. Living.

Her husband and herself describe themselves as tree hugging, animal loving and adventure seeking twenty-something year olds, trying to create the life of their dreams. That is something many of us out there, still stuck in the wheel of every day life, can learn from.
I personally love the fact that after a soul crushing accident, they completely changed their story and started anew with their three dogs, traveling in their van, named Gurtrude and now hitting the “road” via airplane to discover what else is out there.

Go check them out- you will love their story and their humor in everything they do and write about.

Thank you for your trust, you beautiful soul. 🙂

About Boots on the Ground & myself:

I am Angie, a slightly stressed, smiling Malinois mom (now, you try and work on a computer when your highly playful dog expects you to throw whatever she brings you at any given time, all day- have you ever tried to throw a palm leaf?) lover of all things wild, photographer, filmmaker, wanderer and wife to a wildlife guardian and partner in crime.

We are running a non profit to help the efforts of animal rescue and protection on the grounds here in Africa and we love getting into our truck or into an airplane to explore the wild side whenever we can.

How did I end up in Africa?

In short- I followed my dream of Africa and all things wild by packing up my camera, joining a lovely group of like minded people on a photojournalism course in Mosselbay and ended up experiencing what everyone warned me about; Africa does get into your blood and once it has, it does not let go of you anymore.

Three months after my stint on the red continent, I ended up packing my bags and boarding a plane to fly into an adventure of a lifetime, with many up and downs, emotions, fears and unforgettable moments.

We are all about Africa, crazy adventures and our love for the bush and all things wild.

Random Facts about myself, my life & my passion!

  • I have never been to Africa until I was in my end thirties, but dreamt of traveling there since I was in kindergarden
  • I am a self taught photographer and film maker
  • Rhinos are related to horses- I love horses- so it’s not surprising (at least not to me) that I am crazy about these thick skinned tanks
  • My husband and I met while I was filming at his work place. I was more or less forced upon him and his team- he hated me (and all other film crews and photographers for that matter as it is disruptive to his job 😉 )- so I literally had to charm myself into his heart
  • Our Malinois Belle is the smallest of her litter and might be staying a dwarfed shepard dog. She just does not want to grow.
  • I absolutely dislike spiders (or so I thought) but have you ever seen how cute jumping spiders are????
  • My husband explained to me that he is not a tree hugger- but secretly I know he is. He is the first out there, when it comes to saving something creepy, crawly or furry
  • In my heart I am and always will be a cowgirl
  • I flew from Austria to Indonesia for four days to see my then fiancé
  • I was a helicopter pilot in another life (until a back injury put me on a completely different path)
  • My secret love are dolphins and whales

Why do I blog?

Many moons ago I blogged about my life as a cowgirl, traveling to some stunning ranches in Europe and the US, but eventually
life happened and it all got lost somewhere along the line.
So a few weeks ago I sat in front of the computer, brainstorming how to reach people, how to raise awareness and how to put my story as well as my passion for exploring new places and finding my purpose, on “paper”.
My friends told me I should write a book about the last three years, traveling through Africa and filming the frontline of the poaching crises while visiting some beautiful places, meeting probably some of the most passionate people I have ever come across along the line.
And falling in love.
So I guess this is IT. The “book” – for now.

sunset africa kenya

Samara’s questions:

How do you typically make friends while traveling abroad?
It just happens. Usually they are from the same “tribe”. When I first arrived in Africa, I participated in a photography course and just clicked with my instructor. It was her and I who than started the Boots on the Ground movement, by traveling to game reserves and documenting the stories, the rangers, owners and field guides shared with us.
People walked into my life either to help, to be part of what I do, to be the shoulder to lean on when times are tough or to be the adventurous spirit and voice of reason by my side. They never left.

What is the one travel destination you find yourself recommending most in the world?
and Rwanda as there are two types of people in my life- the mermaids. And the bush folk.
As I mentioned earlier, my secret love are dolphins and whales. Well, there is no better place than the Hawaiian islands, to experience so many different species in warm ocean water. And to meet them on their terms. In their natural environment. While hanging out with them for a little while.

dolphin whale swimming conservation hawaii

Rwanda is probably one of the most enchanted places I have ever been to. One of my biggest dreams was to see Gorillas in the wild with my soulmate.
The wildlife there is so different from what I am used to here in South Africa- its pure magic. The volcanic hills, the green leaves in the rain forest, the lakes, the sounds, the smells, the people.

gorilla rwanda trekking conservation great apes

In what ways do you work to immerse yourself in the culture of the places you travel to?
I spend hours immersed in the internet to learn about the culture, the vibe and the people of a place. Then I try to figure out where I am going and what I want to do, what I would like to experience, what I like to see.
From there I usually slide quite easily into the adventure of the unknown wether it is the craziness that is Dubai, the laid back but sometimes loud habits of my American friends , the rough outdoor life on a ranch, the simplicity of the bush in Southern Africa or the desert in Mali,  the surf vibes you encounter in Hawaii and Costa Rica and the open friendliness and curiosity of people all over the world.

What is the scariest thing you have ever encountered while traveling?
Over the past two years, I was working on a documentary about the boots on the ground, protecting our wildlife.
I was invited to join the Wild Foundation and Chengeta Wildlife in Mali, a west African country, famous for its music festival and relaxed vibe but more recently better known for the clashes between rebel jihadists and foreign military as well as the destruction of Timbuktu.
We had bodyguards, a safe house and a military escort. I did not loose a lot of sleep over flying to a war zone as I really wanted to document the work the rangers and the military do to protect the last of the legendary desert elephants.
You could feel the constant danger surrounding you.  We saw the snipers sitting on the hills, watching our every movement. And no, it was not the best of feelings nor was it something I would like to repeat in the near future.
But it was one of the best things I have ever done, being the voice for people who otherwise did not have one and taking that risk for something close to my heart.

Mali warzone photography antipoaching elephants military

What do you consider to be your number 1 travel bucket list item?

Swimming with sperm whales and dusky dolphins is probably on the top of my bucket list.
In Dominica, a volcanic island, separating the Atlantic ocean from the Caribbean Sea , one can join photographic expeditions, run by highly skilled experts and underwater photographers with permits to join the gentle giants under water, freediving, snorkeling and swimming.
In Kaikoura, New Zealand, the highly social and playful dusky dolphins are waiting for you to jump into the water. I am sure its quite chilly and not as comfortable as the beautiful, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean but still worth building that memory.

Would you rather the ocean, the river or a lake?
I grew up in both Austria and Greece. But I am more mermaid than lake monster.
Salt in the air, sand between the toes and sun on my skin- thats what I live for.

Do you like flying or do you do so out of pure necessity?
I used to love flying and could not wait to get to the airport, full of beans and excitement.
But over the past three years I had to fly all over the globe, in all classes, mostly long distance and a lot of back and forth between Europe and South Africa, that I got a little tired of airplanes, airplane food, airplane smell and airplane air, so did my skin and my eyes (they mostly turned red and I ended up looking like a vampire urgently needing a blood infusion. Nope, eye drops did not do the job).
So at the moment I would call boarding an airplane, pure necessity.

What is the one thing you have experienced abroad that you would recommend everyone try once in their life?
Travel to the enchanted land of rainforest magic, bring good, mud proof hiking shoes, a rain jacket and some warm as well as airy clothes, get ready to explore ever rising green hills, hidden in clouds, while tracking gorillas.
Get ready to spend the most magical hour of your life with these gentle primates.

What is the WORST food you have encountered in your life?
I honestly dont remember having really bad food anywhere I went or lived. But then again I usually go with local recommendations.
The smell of some worms (or whatever these things were- I am not too sure, I really want to know) in a pan is a lasting memory. I just walked past it and could not understand how the people were devouring those things. 🙂

Do you ever get homesick when traveling? If so what do you find the best way to combat this?
I would not call it homesick, but I do miss familiar faces, family and friends sometimes. You know, when you experience something and you would just love to pack a bottle of wine, some crackers and jump into the car to tell your girlfriends all about it?
I try to get over it by popping onto WhatsApp if I can and drop a line, a photo or even pick up the phone for a Skype call.
If technology is scarce and “no service” has taken over, then I ll find beauty somewhere out there, take my camera and capture it.

Why do you love traveling?
There is a quote that simply put its all into a few words:
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
For me to travel ends up being one big adventure, an inspiration and filling my soul.
Traveling turns you into a storyteller, while opening the heart and the mind to all things wild, new, small and big.

What is the one part of going abroad that keeps you doing it?
Certainly not the airports and flying 😕
The unforgettable memories we create when we travel.

Land Rover travel bush life photography africa

My Nominees:

Sarah of Borders & Bucketlists has been born and raised in Hawaii, one of my favorite places in the world, and has become an inspiring travel writer and blogger.
I just love to immerse myself in her writings as I am learning so much more about the little paradise on the other side of the world.

You have to love this lady of The crazy kiwi abroad , who managed to break her shoulder while stage diving at the Octoberfest (reading this made me shout out with laughter- there must be a reason for the word “crazy” in her blog’s name). She has been born in NZ but lived all over the world, while exploring 50 different countries and crushing her parents’ hopeful expectations of settling down and moving back home.
Have a read and I promise you, you will smile.

Brand new to the blogging world, I would recommend anyone to pop by this refreshing blog Roadtrippin & design. 
Jenneelee started traveling when she was three weeks old, the right age to catch the travel bug 🙂 apparently. There are still a lot of countries on her bucket list but she has been crusading through Europe, her home country, the US, as well as beautiful Costa Rica, the Caribbean and Mexico.
Join her on her journey and have a read about the places she has already experienced.

Ella’s Ellaeinwanderlust blog is very close to my heart as she has had some amazing adventures in South Africa (and Namibia), my new found home. Her passion to travel the world and explore different cultures is readable in her ramblings and writings, while her photos capture the essence of the places she visits.
She is not your typical digital nomad as she did not quit her job to travel but hey, she’ ll tell you all about it in her story- grab a coffee and start reading!

If you love horses and have a passion for travel, this lady will inspire you. Janine from Globetrotting Cowgirl has been traveling the world a bit different than the rest of us- on horseback.
She lives in two worlds- her “normal” life where she undergoes the daily grind of working long never-ending hours and sacrificing many weekends in order to finance what really matters, the stuff that makes her heart beat faster and her eyes glow- travel. Her other life, the one she feels most alive in is spent sitting for countless hours on a horse, exploring this world from her equine alter, living as a desert Bedouin or a Nomadic Ethiopian Oromo, reveling in the beauty and wonder of this amazing planet.
Delve into her blog and read about the exciting adventures she had and the stunning places she has been to.

Here are my questions for the Nominees- have at it girls:

1. What was your inspiration to start traveling the world and writing about it?

2. Have you ever watched a documentary about a place, a national park, an animal or a city that had you throw all your plans overboard and start from scratch to travel there?

3. Where did you make lasting memories that will always stick with you?

4. What was the biggest adventure so far?

5. What animal would you really like to see in the wild? And why?

6. What is the one destination that you will never go back to and why?

7. What are your sacrifices to be able to do what you love- travel the world?

8. Do you have any tips on how to prepare, how to get comfortable and ready for a long distance flight?

9. What was your strangest meal so far?

10. With what culture were you able to connect the most?

11. Do your travels have a soundtrack? Could you please share a few songs with us and tell us the story connected to them?

Rules for the Award

Read all about the award here.

4 Replies to “Liebster Award”

  1. I enjoyed reading this and finding out more about your interesting life. I’d love to visit Hawaii! I feel like it’s my ultimate honeymoon destination.

    1. It was fun working on it!
      Hawaii is a stunning place. I went there with friends so it is not necessarily only a honeymoon destination 😉
      Oahu has been growing on me. I love Big Island and Kauai (Jurassic park island) ! You’ ll love it!

  2. Your life is so inspiring, so right about Africa about how it lingers with you. Fascinating blog post- I have not yet encountered any ‘cute’ spiders but I will be open to it now! And horses being related to rhinos?! Our world is magical.
    Keep adventuring, I look forward to following your blog further.
    One of my favourite quotes is the one you used “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire!”

    1. One was sitting next to me on the curtain just now but jumped off- I think I am moving too much 😀
      YES horses are related to rhinos- the hooves really are 😉
      Look up Dassie- they are the elephants closest relatives- you will shout with laughter!

      My credo was always: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear!”

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