Meet Dawn Jorgensen from The Incidental Tourist
Green Pearls ambassadors – All our ambassadors have already visited one or more of our “green pearls” worldwide and identify with our philosophy. We support their ideas and values concerning sustainable tourism and green lifestyle as well and will consult them on their expertise regularly..
Dawn Jorgensen is one of the most known travel bloggers in South Africa. On her blog “The Incidental Tourist“, she writes about her personal travels and shows, how we all can travel sustainably and also live with a good conscience.
From owning a tour operator company to an eco-friendly travel blogger – what made you change your path?
Establishing a bespoke tour operating company reaped endless reward, from African travel opportunities to the wonderful people I got to meet and work with, constantly seeing my beautiful land through their fresh eyes. Yet after ten years of creating dream holidays for others, I had a desperate desire to take more myself, but mostly to write about them, share the experiences with a wider audience and in turn encourage others to travel, specifically within Africa.
My heart has always belonged to nature and the more time I spent with communities and people working for our fragile wildlife and ailing oceans, the more determined I became to live ethically and do what I can to give back.
Over the years my readership grew and I could share the stories I was privileged enough to hear or experience with the hope of creating awareness. There are too many unsung heroes, people working tirelessly to inspire change and communities who’s voices are not heard. If I could help tell their story and increase awareness, they might be given more recognition and even the required support.
That was the thinking and my inspiration to constantly strive to make a difference, however small, as I advocate for a better world. I have become acutely aware of the responsibility that I have to do the right thing by nature, it is now who I am, in many ways.
Your blog subtitle is „Travel Writer, Beauty Seeker, Earth Advocate“. What essence do you want to deliver to the readers of your blog?
On my blog I’m trying to offer a mix of content that will please those simply wanting to scroll through the photographs and read the odd caption, to somebody seeking detailed advice on a destination I have visited, whilst reminding that we can have all the gifts of travel, luxury or other, without compromise, yet though the right choices. To tread gently in the areas and communities we visit and support only ethical eco friendly products.
I also talk about conservation themed things, African travel in the hope of dispelling many misconceptions, solo travel for women, Cape Town the city I love and the fact that there is beauty everywhere, we just need to seek it out.
During your travels, what was your most sustainable experience?
Travelling to Thailand on a 7 Greens Community tour that had me visit remote villages where residents live gentle with nature, be it off the ocean, palm plantations or farm land. The lessons were invaluable, both in modesty and respect for the bigger picture.
In our previous interview about eco-tourism in Africa, you say that “Conscious travel takes me closer to the things that matter, the people and how they’d like their stories told.“. What is the most memorable story you have heard so far? And why are these stories so important concerning sustainability?
Most of the stories that move me pertain to the animals that I would love to see protected.
It was no different during my recent visit to Kenya with the Local Ocean Trust and I was inspired by all that they are doing to save the species. But it always goes to the bigger picture and sustaining a community that has traditionally relied on the ocean for survival, when fishing stocks are at their lowest, has many challenges. If the community is self-sufficient, the risk of poaching on turtles in minimised, is the premise. The Ocean Trust therefore do much community work in a bid to find alternate means of income, separate from the sea.
One project stood out from the rest. We visited the Msitu women’s group just outside Watamu, who used to be fish mongers and found that with no fish, they could barely support themselves. Under guidance they have established a successful tree planting business targeted almost entirely at the construction industry. Tapping into a great need, they are planting non indigenous fast growing trees for an every increasing client base, in so saving indigenous trees such as mangroves from being cut down.
They have grown substantially over the years with orders for thousands of trees of different ages coming in. Some of the funds remain in the trust for redevelopment, while other is invested in alternate income methods, like chairs to be hired for functions, and education of the children. A success story growing in magnitude.
You live in a small farm right outside of Cape Town. In which way does it have your green mindset implemented?
I have lived on a farm in Wellington for over ten years and it grounds me and allows me to keep an everyday relationship with nature.
We farm the land organically and chemical free, have implemented recycling practices best we can, minimise energy usage, run a compost to fertiliser project, have a ban on plastic bottles and straws, make our own soap and grow herbs and some vegetables. I live a vegetarian lifestyle, which means a low impact diet and support a collection of feeding and education projects in the area.
Given that it is a small farm with a river running through it, we mostly let the land be free and it has resulted in rich birdlife, resident antelope and the occasional porcupine visit, mostly to dig up the artichokes.
3 tips to travelers who want authentic, sustainable experiences in South Africa? What should they look out for?
1. When selecting a destination, attracting or accommodation, ask questions. Learn a little about their ethos and philosophy towards to the environment and only select those that ‘feel right’.
2. Avoid animal interactions such as lion petting and elephant rides even if the places are marked as sanctuaries. A real sanctuary does not allow breeding of wild animals or human interaction with them.
3. Look out for associations such as Fair Trade in Tourism, Green Pearls and Eco Tourism accreditation.
If there is one tip you could give to a person, who wants to act more sustainable, what would that be?
Live with a conscious.
In other words consider where things come from and also where things end up. Never let go of the fact that no action is too small. Start recycling, not using straws, minimising the use of plastic bottles and bags and pick up litter, it’s easy to do. Lead by example.
There is so much that everybody can do with very little effort, that collectively will help the world.
Thank you very much for all these amazing stories, Dawn. And where can we find you?