Mukhatshelwa Katchie Nzama a South African travel blogger sets out to travel across 24 African Countries
Africa is the second-fastest growing destination after Asia Pacific, and could count up to 3.8 million direct and indirect jobs by 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). How often do we travel and appreciate the beauty that is the African continent?
In a quest to discover, explore and experience Africa’s hidden attractions, Mukhatshelwa Katchie Nzama a South African travel blogger and content creator has set out to travel across 24 African Countries, covering a distance of 16 383 km within 168 days. Katchie, @TheSoloWandera is passionate about Africa, and endeavors to showcase the continents’ best destinations to the world.
Her quest is to find the most affordable way to travel and immerse herself into new cultures and languages. We took the opportunity to have a chat with Katchie and learn on traversing the African continent solo.
What got you interested in blogging about travel?
I have always traveled. I spent so much time on social media and my travels were the only thing I shared on the different platforms. I figured there had to be money to be made in this thing when I was investing so much of my time and money in it. So I quit corporate and decided to wing it. And it worked out.
What inspired you to solo travel? And why an interest in African travel?
I grew up in a family of travelers and always traveled with my friends when I could afford it. But sometimes friends didn’t have money or they had other commitments and that meant I could not travel which I didn’t like. So I just started traveling alone, was taking a chance if I would like it. I loved it so much, I have never looked back. I am not sure I would enjoy group travel as much as I love the independence of solo travel.
I chose to focus my travels in Africa as we need more Africans telling the story of Africans. The first time I went to Maasai Mara in Kenya I went there after reading up so much on the culture and the people and they seemed weird from what I had read. But when I spent a week in a village in Sekenani, I realized this was just another African culture like all the other ones. The reason I had a different idea of what the Maasai people could be was because I was reading a European perspective of African cultures. At some point we need to educate ourselves about ourselves as Africans. We need to celebrate our uniqueness and cherish our similarities. And we need to get rid of these borders that keep us as strangers.
Tell us about your current travel campaign #BreakingBorders
Breaking Borders is about showcasing Africa to Africans. Highlighting our struggles as Africans to travel Africa due mostly to our visa rules. Young Africans are very interested in traveling the continent, but we have to deal with the worst visa rules and it is such an intrusive process. You spend so much time and money applying for these visas and you have no idea if you will get it, we are Africans but it is easier for European passport holders to travel our continent.
It is also time that we as Africans start documenting and telling our stories and sharing our countries with other Africans in order to show them that these countries are beautiful and Instagram worthy too but most importantly, for education purposes as most people depend on mainstream media to get information on different countries and the media seldom if ever paints an attractive picture of African countries.
How did you come about choosing the 24 African countries?
I have had a goal of 50 African countries before I am 30years old. I had done 15 countries by the time I finished backpacking Cape to Cairo. The 24 countries were easy to pick, going from the most northern point of Africa to the most Southern point via West Africa. The beauty of West African countries is they are small and I can have more countries included in my route.
What are your top 3 African destination and why?
Haaaaa!!! This has to be a trick question. In no order of importance:
South Africa – Home is apparently where the heart is and this country has everything – literally. From mountains, deserts, oceans, outdoors, wildlife, nightlife, nature and a whole lot more. My top place to explore, the Panorama Route in the Mpumalanga province.
Kenya – Home is also where your heart dreams of being every day. Every time I visit Kenya I feel like it is my first time. The bustling city of Nairobi as you wander the streets like a local, you have to go to Kenyatta market to have the ladies braid your hair.
But a must see in Kenya, Lamu Island. I believe serenity for your soul resides there.
Malawi is definitely the warm heart of Africa. I am yet to meet people as warm and loving as Malawians. You have to hike around Likoma Island and snorkeling with the colourful cichlids.
What is your top travel tip that you would like to share?
The most genius thing, is buying your flight ticket at ungodly hours. I am talking 1am to 4am, somehow that is when I find the most amazing flight deals. Always remember to clear your browsing history before searching for flights.
What advice do you have for travelers who wish to explore the continent of Africa?
Just go. Just do it. I often receive emails from young people interested in traveling the continent and they just want someone to give their idea a heads up. I say do it and don’t wait for permission. We have the most amazing continent, beautiful, warm and welcoming people and so much to learn everyday about our lives.
How do you keep up to date with Tech and travel industry news?
Other bloggers. Besides all the media releases that I have subscribed to and travel journals that I read, I love connecting to other bloggers. Not just in travel, because I feel like everyone knows something I could learn. As for tech, I am probably the most tech challenged human being who has to work with technology and gadgets, and for some reason I make it work. I limit the social media platforms I am on because I can’t keep up.
How do you plan for your travel?
The most important thing when you have to travel is your budget. No one knows how to work within a budget better than a traveler. Once budget is decided upon I pick a destination. I may or may not find accommodation before traveling depending on what I have read on the country and imagine how challenging the country would be. Everything else tends to fall into place once you are in the country and have met other travelers or locals who want to show you around their city and recommend other places for you to go to.
What are your top gadgets when travelling?
My cellphone, travel sized laptop and power bank that charges both the cellphone and laptop. Most people think I carry a large camera to take breathtaking photographs but it all comes from my phone and I stay away from filters.
One thing you would like to change about travel in Africa?
Air travel, flying across Africa is so expensive and most times the routes are so inconvenient. We need to really do better at opening up our skies and introducing low cost airlines.