Jan and Jay Roode are aviators, photographers, travellers, conservationists and Getaway bloggers. Having collectively travelled to over 56 countries the couple are content only when free to wander the skies in their Jabiru 430 or explore life on the ground in their trusty Land Cruiser.
I got itchy feet as I interviewed Jay about their amazing adventures around the world.
The travel bug first bit when I was a teenager paging through books on Africa published by pioneering female photographers Angela Fischer and Mirella Riccardi. I silently vowed to myself that I would try to follow in their footsteps. I worked as a student at a fleamarket for years saving money for my first solo adventure – an African overland from Victoria Falls to Nairobi. Since then wanderlust got its claws into me and exploring the world has become an obsession.
I got my first camera when I was in primary school but it only really became an all consuming passion when I started to travel in earnest with my husband Jan, who is also a passionate photographer. Our travels took us to such magnificent places that we could not keep it for ourselves, we wanted to share these awe-inspiring places and experiences, and so our love for travel photography was born.
There is no where else in the world that speaks to my heart like Africa does; the smell of the earth after a thunderstorm, the sound of crickets and frogs in the dusk, the deep hoot of a Eagle owl in the dead of night. It literally gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Africa is more alive than anywhere else I have been. Its biodiversity and great wildernesses leave me breathless everytime I venture into them.
To quote Lao Tzu “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving”. Travel for me is not about rushing from one place to another and fitting in as many sights as I can; it is about immersing myself in a place and in a culture. Travel, I find is both an internal and external journey and one that continually reminds me to embrace the vibrance and abundance of life. Most importantly travel has taught me to let go of my prejudices and stubborn ideas about the world and just “live and let live”.
This is a hard one! There are so many places that have touched my soul. I suppose my top ones would be; Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, Half Moon island in the South Shetlands, Namibrand Nature Reserve (read about why NamibRand is Namibia’s best-kept secret here) and Ibo island in Mozambique.
The ones that stand out are; driving over the surreal desert landscapes of the Bolivian Altiplano, catching a fishing boat deep into the Beagle Channel in Argentina and watching the sun rise over the Andes, flying over the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, having a pod of killer whales swim under my rubber duck in the Terror and Erebus Gulf on the Antarctic peninsula, driving with a Bushman as a guide on my roof rack in Damaraland, but I suppose my best travel experiences involve people and their unerring capacity to surprise me with their warmth, hospitality and kindness.
My camera, duct tape and ear plugs.
Vietnam. We arrived in Saigon without doing much planning which normally works in our favour, but not this time! The idea was to hire a car or motorbike and drive the length of Vietnam but to our dismay tourists are not allowed to hire cars or touring bikes. We ended up catching cockroach infested trains the whole way and to top it all off I had a severe reaction to my malaria medication which included such pleasures as hallucinations and night terrors.
We go to a small grass hut in the middle of a rural village in Vilankulo, Mozambique. Here life is simple – a place that reminds me of how little I need to be happy.
Antarctica: our passports were stamped at the Argentine research station on mainland Antarctica.
Boeing or Jabiru? Our plane is so small that each seat is both a window and aisle seat. When it comes to larger aircraft, I prefer a window seat, I love to look outside and even in the dark of night, imagine the world beneath me.
I prefer underneath the wing of our plane, with only silence as my travel companion. The closer I sleep to the earth the more ‘real’ it feels, I need to be connected to the places I visit. I hope that answers the question.
Our best journeys have been our flying expeditions over Africa. All of them have been indescribably beautiful but the one that stands out was our expedition up the coastline of Mozambique. We landed at obscure rural airfields, camped out under the wing, met oil men and missionaries, hitched into town and embraced serendipity. Flying over the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ilha de Mocambique and landing on Ibo Island were some of the highlights.
Ethiopia – legends of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba draw me on….
For more photos by Jan and Jay Roode check out their website www.skyhawkphotography.com.
All photos by Jan and Jay Roode
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