Guluvaz Travel

Welcome to another edition of black girls’ travel brought to you by the lockdown. Meet Thenjiwe Mabope another insta find.

Introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Thenji. I have a travel insta page turned YouTube called Guluvaz Travel and I’m a 30 year old marketing exec from Johannesburg

Is your blog name inspired by Gulliver’s travels with a kasi twist?
The name as you can tell is a play on Gulliver’s Travels which I was enthralled with as a child. Anything that had the promise of adventure and new and faraway lands was always my jam. 
Tell us where you’ve been around the world?
I have been fortunate enough to have gone to 24 countries so far.
What was your favourite destination?
So far with my favourites being probably Italy, Ghana, Mozambique and Holland. It’s always difficult to choose just one destination as a favourite because every place is so different and has a context on how I was feeling or what I connected to at the time. I love Mozambique because of the food and peacefulness, I love Italy because I’m an epicurean and loved the cheese and wine in Tuscany; I love Ghana because the men there are so fine and ambitious; I love Holland because it’s vibrant cool kid epicentre. Every new place I go to has the potential to be the new favourite!
When did the travel bug bite?
 
I fell in love with travel before I ever saw the inside of the airport or even knew how it would be possible to get to faraway places. I used to watch Top Billing as a little girl and imagined myself as Ursula walking the streets of Paris. I used to jump over tables and pretend I was Sydney Fox on adventures in Relic Hunter. Relic Hunter was a show about an explorer who solved mysteries around the world. Or imagine myself as Lemuel Gulliver himself. I travelled through these characters using it to escape deep into my imagination where I’d create weird and wonderful worlds where anything was possible. Then that manifested into becoming this woman who is curious about the world around her and spends all her money travel. It’s become my passion, some women like bags and clothes or painting or beauty, mine is getting on a plane to find new and interesting experiences.
Which do you prefer travel agents or to do it yourself?
 
Booking your own travel can be daunting especially if you have never done it before so I always suggest first timers lean on travel agencies. I always suggest using travel agencies that allow you to pay through lay-bys and give discounts for people under 30 like STATravel, Flight Centre etc. to get value for money deals then once you feel comfortable with travelling you can start looking into booking your own travel. The trick also when making your own bookings is to ask tons questions, ask people how have gone to the destination before you, cross reference on travel sites and compare prices and read reviews. It’s lots of effort but it’s worth it because you get to know exactly what you’re paying for and what to expect when you get there. 
What are your favourite travel apps?
My go-to travel apps are Skyscanner so I can find the cheapest flights. Google Maps because it gives you local mode of transport and walking directions whichever country I’m in. Agoda so I can compare accommodation types and prices on one platform. And also  good old Excel because this is what I use to plan my trips so I know what I can afford and what I can’t before hand. 
We love your travel on a budget tips, what inspired this?
I have a few of tips on how to travel on a budget decided to share on YouTube. Go to my page to get tips for either first time travel or hacks and you might learn something new that will get you a step closer to that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Often because of a lack of exposure people believe travel is unattainable because we’re constantly bombarded by the nouveau riche social media glitzy influencers who only seem to show business class boarding passes and champagne glasses, that’s not all that travel is about. I have travelled more than most with the means that I have because I go out of my way to find the most affordable way of getting to where I want to be and I want others to know that they can too. Travel is for everyone and if I can share tips on how to do it within your budget then I’ve done a something good for the day. 
What do you never travel without?
I never travel without my earphones and face masks. I am a solo traveller meaning there can be a lot of time to kill on the plane or waiting on layovers so my earphones ensure I always have music to keep my company. The face masks a life line because flying is brutally dehydrating for my skin so I make sure that I put on hydrating masks to replenish the hours of air-con so I at least still look cute when I land. 
Money is no object, where in the world would you go?
 
Money is no object you would find me in the Caribbean Island hopping making my way from Trinidad through Dominica all the way to Jamaica through all the islands in that channel by boat.
Where can people find you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram: @Guluvaz_travels, Youtube: Guluvaz Travels. Email: Guluvaztravels@gmail.com

Travel Spotlight: Rethabile Ramaphakela

Since COVID19 has put a halt on my travel plans for a bit I thought I should put a spotlight on some of my favourite travel content creators, starting with Rethabile Ramaphakela.

Tell us who you are and what you do?

I’m Rethabile Ramaphakela. Best known as @Retini on the social medias. I’m a producer, writer and director who was a former kids presenter and one of the Ventertainment voice artists

We love your travel content, tell us the places you’ve been around the world

Travelling is like my side hustle. I try to do at least two trips a year with the major trip being in April – my birthday month. I also have started visiting places that are a bit ‘off the traveling grid’. I tend to hate doing first world countries because they seem to lack something when it comes to interacting with locals, for me, travelling is also about the locals. I’m interested in how other people live so meeting people plays a huge role in making a place memorable. I have been to the “usual” places like France, USA (New York, Miami and LA), UK, Hungary (not so usual), Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

But I have absolutely loved being in Tanzania, Mauritius, Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, Maldives, Indonesia, Iceland, Morocco, Namibia, Croatia and Sri Lanka

What was your favourite destination?

This is so hard to answer, because every place holds a very special place in my heart but if I absolutely had to choose, I would say Bali. I have been there twice. Once in a big group and then on my own and even after these travels, I would still go there again. There is still so much I haven’t seen. It has a bit of everything and is really the epitome of holiday destination. (I know everyone goes there now but it’s really that good.

 

Do you use travel agents or are you a DIY traveller using apps?

I love putting an itinerary together, it’s literally one of my absolute favourite things to do.

What are your go-to travel apps?

Mostly Skyscanner (for flights) and Airbnb and Booking.com. I don’t like to stay in hotels when traveling. I like the idea of coming back to your own home where you can cook and drink.

When did the travel bug bite?

The first time I went overseas was in 2007 and it was for work. The producer on the trip actually said, “after this, all you will want to do was travel.” During that trip I went to New York City and I absolutely fell in love. The bug got me so bad, I went to live in New York for about 3 months in 2010.

Do you have any hints and tips for solo travellers or first time travellers?

Solo travelling can seem daunting but you just have to do it. I did my first solo travel because a lot of my friends couldn’t make the trip for various reasons. I had two options, either wait or go anyway. I decided to go because ultimately you can’t wait for people when you want to do what you want.

But obviously make sure you make sure you have things planned that force you to interact with people. So when solo travelling I always book a hotel instead of an Airbnb, because the hotel staff became your allies and are very helpful (and they are great for taking pictures). The best is that Airbnb now has experiences that you can do, this is a great way to interact with people whilst experiencing the new place. I highly recommend Airbnb Experiences.

Trust yourself. The world is not as scary as we think it is. I had many preconceived ideas about Morocco before I went and my solo trip there is probably one of my most memorable trips.

What do you never travel without?

I’m not precious about anything but one thing I always ask myself is, “do I have my wallet and do I have my passport?” The rest will sort itself out.

Money is no object, where in the world would you go?

Bora Bora. I love me a good ol’ island destination. I want to visit all of the beaches

To see more of Rethabile’s travel follow her on all her social media as @Retini and her hashtag #RetiniTravels

Recap of this past decade

As we approach a new decade I felt I should do a bit of a recap of my past 10years.  So much growth happened and I also got bit by the travel bug. I started this decade as an agency producer then became an animation producer and I’m ending it as an artist manager and founder of Ofentse Management (shameless plug) but yes I have grown in leaps and bounds. I did a bit of  self-searching (not sure if that’s a real phrase) over the years and I have to say travel was actually a huge part of me finding myself. I’m happiest traveling to be honest and I hope the next decade is filled with even more travel (preferably in business class universe *nudge, nudge , wink ,wink).

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you my travels through the years:

2010 London- UK

 

2011 New York – USA

 

2012: Dubai- Dubai

 

2013 New York, Miami, LA- USA

 

 

 

 

2014- 2015 Were clearly a dark time in my life as there was no travel during those two years LOL. Seriously though those were my transition years when I left the 9to5 grind and that’s when the soul searching began. These proved to be very crucial years for me and I’m grateful for the experience and I haven’t looked back since.

2016: Vienna, Graz- Austria

 

 

2017 Inhambane- Mozambique :

2017 Paris – France

 

2018 Mombasa – Kenya

 

And this year I returned to my favourite place in the world to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday: 2019 PARIS once again

Mombasa the Rundown

Since posting about my Mombasa trip I’ve been getting a bunch of questions from people so I figure I should use this post to address their queries.

Can you fly directly to Mombasa from SA? At the moment no airlines fly directly to Mombasa, I had to connect from Nairobi.

Where did you stay? We stayed at the Behari beach hotel which was quite pleasant and had friendly staff.

What can we do there? Ours was a short trip but here are some of the things you can do while you are there.

1. Also my favourite lay in the sun

2.Go on boat rides and swim in the ocean

3. Go shopping at the markets

4. For the adventurous types windsurfing and kite surfing

 

5. Go site seeing

6. Or enjoying some cocktails by the water

Would I recommend this trip to other people? YES over and over and over again, Mombasa is beautiful and the people are friendly.

 

 

5 Days of Summer: Mombasa Part 2

Day 2 was a more traditional tourist day and we checked out Fort Jesus, walked through Old Town and saw the Mombasa Tusks.

Fort Jesus is one of Mombasa’s tourist attractions. It was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to protect their sailing route back to Portugal. The Portuguese regarded themselves as representatives of christianity hence the name Fort Jesus. There is a constant stream of people coming in to see Fort Jesus both international tourists and locals (the cover charge is cheaper for Kenyans).

Walking through Old Town the buildings are beautiful but hella neglected, the different textures make for great backdrops though for our selfies and cheesy tourist shots, so we obliged.

Because it was a Sunday the street was not busy I managed to get the shot of the Mombasa Tusks uninterrupted.

5 Days of Summer: Mombasa Part 1

Travelling drama aside I had finally made it to Mombasa and I was ready to soak up the sun. The rain and the sunshine kept alternating throughout the course of the days but the warmth stayed constant so no jackets and no long sleeves. Just what the doctor ordered.

SAM_1747      The view from our room ❤

Our day started with us exploring our surroundings which on day 1 was the beach where we booked our ride on a glass boat and the shopping centre to get money to pay for boat ride and the likes (I didn’t exchange currency beforehand. You know me “rebel”).

And then the touristy fun began, be warned I get trigger happy with a camera so a photo overload is upon you.

Tuk-Tuk rides

They are called glass boats because they have glass bottoms so you can see the fish once you sail deep enough (If you saw my insta-stories you heard how excited I was to see these buggers)

      In the spirit of trying new things I got in the water with the fish swimming around my legs.

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Solo Travel: My Experience

I’ll be the first to say I never understood traveling alone, I don’t even like the idea of going to the movies by myself. So to say I found the thought of going to another country all by my lonesome daunting would be the understatement of the year. When I was toying with the idea of going to Paris I tried to recruit everyone I knew.  It soon became evident that the universe had other plans for me.

I said in the beginning of the year that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and what better way for an introvert such as myself to be thrust out than traveling alone. In all of the excitement that I would be going to my dream destination I kinda forgot how scary this actually was. Landing in Paris on a cloudy and chilly morning was however a quick reminder.  As I waited outside the airport for my late shuttle surrounded by chain smokers the voice inside my head was like “WTF Ofentse? What did you do? What were you thinking?” yo I was ready to get back on the plane and go home.

When my shuttle finally arrived I told that voice to shut up and suck it up because we’re here now. I tapped into my inner Shonda Rhimes on some “I can do this I’m badass“. Luckily I had a jolly and rather chatty shuttle driver and then we were joined by some nice and equally chatty old ladies suddenly things didn’t seem so bad.  I was like “hey this isn’t so bad I can do this” the next part could’ve been my imagination but I swear the sky cleared and the sun came out and Paris was magic again.

I went exploring, chatting to strangers, asking people for directions and asking them to take my picture. It was quite liberating to do things without overthinking everything. I also realize that I sound like a cliche but it was liberating and a growing experience. I only realized it when I came home and started telling people stories about my trip. I never thought I would ever take a solo trip let alone enjoy one, but I did and I highly recommend it.

Afterwards I had N*E*R*D’s ” She’s badass” playing in my head as a soundtrack because I felt like I could do anything if I managed to navigate my way in a country where I only knew a handful of phrases in their language and still managed to have a good time. Also traveling alone means not having to compromise on anything really; you do what you feel like, when you feel like it. Selfish as that may sound it felt nice not to have to negotiate on what activities to do and when to do them. That alone should be reason enough to want to try it out, that and meeting new people and honing your selfie taking skills.

 

I Love Paris

Ever since I could remember I have been drawn to Paris, but to be honest as time went by I fell in love with the idea of it more than anything else. I avoided going there over the years in fear that it would not live up to the dream, the idea I had created in my head. But since I am in the year of yes I figured oh well Ofentse its time to take Nike’s advice and JUST DO IT and boy am I glad I did.

What I did may have seemed crazy to some… going to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language all by myself. Crazy or not I did it and loved every second of it.I would like to say for the record Paris lived up to my imagination, it was whimsical quirky and cool in other words the city version of me.

I went full blown tourist out there guys as you can see from my happy snaps:

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Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset                                                      Le Palais Royal

 

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset                                                                Paris Opera

thumb_SAM_1478_1024                                                                Louvre Museum

 

thumb_SAM_1485_1024thumb_SAM_1487_1024                                                      Tuileries Garden

thumb_SAM_1597_1024                                                            Arc de triomphe

And I fell madly in love with the Eiffel Tower day and night.

thumb_SAM_1564_1024thumb_SAM_1565_1024                                                           Sacré-Cœur

thumb_SAM_1533_1024           The stairs leading to the Sacré-Cœur

Montmartre was a workout for sure with all the stairs and everything being uphill but I did enjoy how busy and vibrant it was.

The streets were lined with artists sketching cheesy tourists like myself.

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Thank you Paris I will be back again that is for sure.20170924_135956

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Through my lens

When I was in varsity this one dude asked me “how are you going to enjoy seeing the world with a camera stuck to your face?” that question always confused me. I love taking pictures everywhere I go, its like freezing a single moment and when you look back at that picture you have that same feeling  over again. I’m happiest when I’m traveling and the pictures remind me of those happy moments and I honestly cannot wait to capture more happy moments. So I hope this answers old boy’s question.

Here are a few of my immortalized memories:

                                                                     DUBAI

NEW YORK

                                                               MIAMI

                                                                         LA

                                                                    VIENNA

                                                                       GRAZ                                           

 

And here’s to many more memories 😉