We Travel Not To Escape Life, But For Life Not To Escape Us

I read this quote the other day and it struck a chord with me. We can get so absorbed in our daily routine and busy lives that we can forget there is a world out there full of diversity and ready for us to explore. 


One of the most amazing things that comes home to me when I visit other countries, is the ingenuity of the human spirit. Whether it be in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam; Soweto, South Africa; or Vancouver, Canada, us humans get on with life in many different ways. We adapt to our particular circumstances, whether rich or poor, employed or unemployed, child or adult. We can learn so much from experiences gained travelling and visiting the wider world. Our minds are broadened, our perspectives are lengthened, and we return to our communities richer from the experiences and able to adapt better to the changing circumstances of our own lives. 


Over the past five years since we took over running Travel Encounters and Charlies Golf Tours, my wife and I have been privileged to travel around the world, hosting tours for Kiwis wanting to expand their horizons by seeing the world, one country at a time. The combination of being a tourist experiencing the diversity of culture, food, language and life of some amazing countries has proved to be an irresistible mix. We must have something right, as 80 percent of our clients come back time and time again.



The majority of people travelling with us are over 50—children have grown up and left the nest, and life feels more manageable and under control. This means that the opportunities for ‘life not to escape us’ becomes more realistic. We have found our fellow Kiwi travellers to be inquisitive, interested, engaging and friendly to all they meet; really wanting to experience a country and spend time with the peoples they are visiting. Whether it is learning to barter at a local market, riding with the Gauchos in Argentina, fishing in the Zambesi with local fishermen, visiting historical sites that previously had just been a name in a book, dancing a tango in Buenos Aires, supporting the All Blacks on tour, or visiting the home of golf, there really is something for everyone.


One trip that particularly impressed us last year was our Dunes, Delta and Falls tour in Southern Africa. The big five on safari, four countries, three Cessna flights over deserts and deltas—this was a special tour with plenty to ‘wow’ about! We gathered in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, a desert country, famous for its diamonds, before setting out for Etosha National Park.  An early start the next morning was rewarded by sightings of three lions sitting in the savannah. The rest of the day was filled with great sightings of elephant, giraffe, springbok and a myriad of wild- and birdlife. Back at the lodge we compared and shared photos and created some everlasting memories. 


One trip that particularly impressed us last year was our Dunes, Delta and Falls tour in Southern Africa. The big five on safari, four countries, three Cessna flights over deserts and deltas—this was a special tour with plenty to wow about!


Onward to the coast and to Swakopmund, where we jumped into Cessnas and flew over the Skeleton Coast, infamous for the diamond mining, and into the sand dunes to Sossusvlei, just outside the Dunes National Park. Another early start next morning saw us witnessing the sunrise over spectacular sand dunes, with the shadows accentuating their perfect forms that are being constantly reshaped by the winds.


Back to Windhoek again for our flight to Maun in Botswana, one of the main access points to the Okavango Delta. Here we picked up another Cessna that flew us to an airstrip in the middle of the Delta. The owner of the tented lodge that awaited us here, met us with her old Botswana army truck that transported us to our accommodation. A sunset cruise on the adjacent lake, and a Mokoro trip, (a dug out canoe punted by locals skilled at Punting), along with resting in the tranquil peace of the Delta, filled our time here.



Onward, and another Cessna flight took us to Chobe, where a sunset cruise gave us the opportunity to see much wildlife, including swimming elephants, crocodiles and hippos. The next morning’s early game drive presented us with a leopard sighting and a pride of lions, with four cubs in tow, complete with the proud alpha male. We couldn’t have wished for more.  The finale to the tour awaited us across the border in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, just an hour or so from Chobe. The falls were raging, with huge volumes of water pouring down into the abyss.


Time and time again we have found that travelling together in a group is a great friendship-maker. One of our bylines is ‘Travel with friends you haven’t met yet’, and we know of folk still having annual reunions a number of years after travelling together. Lasting friendships can be made when journeying with others and the culture of inclusiveness encouraged on our tours allows for everyone, including solo travellers, to fit in and feel part of the group. Of course, if you have a group of friends looking to travel together we can curate a custom holiday experience just for you too!


I come back to where I started, and that is to encourage us all not to let life escape us, but to seize hold of opportunities to travel. Why not join us on a tour to somewhere in the world and experience life from another perspective—you will be the richer for it and you will have some great stories to share.  


Peter & Marian Cox run Travel Encounters and Charlies Golf Tours, providing specialist tours for the discerning traveller. The featured tour mentioned is the Travel Encounters’ Dunes, Delta & Falls tour, which will run again in June/July 2020. Other tours currently available are Encounter Israel in September 2019 and Encounter Patagonia & Argentina in November 2019. For more details go to travelencounters.co.nz/hosted-encounters