My travel bug, and more specifically my interest in Africa was sparked by my family moving to South Africa when I was 6 years old. While living there, we explored our way around a range of southern African countries, including the slightly off the beaten track country of Angola. 10 years later I found myself at school in Scotland, and later studying tourism at university.
To further feed my addiction to travel, I have ventured to several corners of the world, with some favourites being Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Colombia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I haven’t been able to ignore the draw of returning to southern Africa.
I was eager to start my career in the travel industry straight from university, however COVID-19 steered me toward helping my parents run a hotel on the south coast of Devon until the opportunity to become a South African specialist arose.
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Q&A with Cassie
What’s your most vivid travel moment?
One of my most vivid and memorable travel moments came within the first week of living with my family in South Africa. We were lucky enough to live in near proximity to Kruger National Park, so we embarked on a weekend camping trip. We were very happily self-driving our way through the Kruger, when we stumbled across a large bull elephant in the middle of the road. At the age of 6, and having hardly even heard of an elephant before, this was quite a shock. We turned the engine off and watched this beautifully elegant animal feed on the trees. Suddenly, he very quickly decided that he didn’t like us watching him having his lunchtime feed and started to charge at us. I remember being rather petrified, and we backed off and left him to it. Ever since, I’ve had the utmost respect for animals, and in particular, elephants.
Which book, film or artwork captures South Africa the most?
I’ve a strong memory of reading a book called ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ while at school in South Africa. It’s a true story of a dog and his master, Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick, and their time living and working in the Bushveld in the 1880s. The story concerns the unbreakable bond that Jock and Fitzpatrick develop while trying to navigate and survive living in the wilderness and keeping predators at bay. It reflects some of the history of the country and depicts the then landscape beautifully while emphasizing the importance of the bond they had created.
Your best piece of travel advice?
Don’t underestimate the significance of tipping in South Africa. There are several situations where it’s the norm for travellers (and locals) to leave tips. A few examples that may not be usual for us in the UK is tipping those who fill up your car at petrol stations, people who guard your car when in public car parks, and guides/trackers and camp teams while on safari. What may seem like an insignificant amount to us, will make a big difference to them.