This month on the traveler, I spoke to Dion Van Aardt. Dion is an avid traveler with stunning travel pictures that ignites the wanderlust bug in all of us. He shared his travel experiences, how it all started and his travel goals.
Who is Dion?
I am a thirty six year old Kenyan,but was born in Zimbabwe. My family fled from Europe in the 1700’s for Southern Africa in search of a better life and we are all still here!
What inspired you to start traveling?
My family has always been quite nomadic and in fact my great grandparents came to settle in Eldoret,Kenya during the great trek from South Africa.It took them 3 years to get here. So I think it is in my blood to always have an itchy foot!
Again,my parents used to take us on lots of camping trips and mountain hiking adventures in Zimbabwe and encouraged us to make life exciting.
Are you a solo traveler?
I prefer to travel with a few friends because it is more fun.Moreover, it helps with cost sharing making the trip cheaper!
Do you travel full time or part time?
I travel part time
Are you a photographer as well? You have nice travel photos in your social media pages!
I started taking photos the time Kenya suffered security issues both in Lamu and Nairobi – my intention was to shift focus from the problem at hand and just showcase Kenya as the stunning place it is.Then three years ago I decided to take up photography as a hobby.I have since practiced taking photos.As of last year I had already taken slightly more than 38,000 photos. From those, I always get a few nice ones that I use on my social media pages. I am getting better at it and I hope one day I will call myself a photographer. As at now, it is a hobby because I still have so much to learn.
I love Instagram because I have learnt a lot from other people, while having a platform to showcase the photos of the different places I have been to.
How old were you when you went for your first solo international travel?
I was nineteen. I went to the UK to work and become rich and famous. However,I ended up living in a tent in Henley on Thames waiting on tables for 6 months!I moved around UK working and living in all sorts of places from the lake district to Suffolk where I worked as a tractor driver.
How many countries have you been to
What is the longest time you’ve been away from home during travel?
Three months – I had traveled to the USA.
How do you finance your travels?
When I was younger I did odd jobs in the UK to save money to go away over the weekends.Then I moved to Kenya where I ran Kizingo;a small lodge on Lamu island. When it closed because of the rains for 3 months, I spent all the money I had saved from the trade on the island to go abroad.Now I am older and I prefer traveling around Kenya and Zimbabwe because we have so much to see and do so close to home.
What is your favorite extreme sport?
I love Rock climbing!
What has been your lowest moment during travel?
I had driven from Harare to Johannesburg when my car got stolen with all my luggage and passport in it!
What do you like most about travel?
I love getting a tiny taste of what it feels to belong to another place that is not familiar to me. I also like tough hikes and adventures that takes one off the beaten track and from the comfort zone. Such experiences makes that glass of wine and hot shower feel so much better when you get home!
Which of the countries you have visited so far that in your opinion has the warmest people?
I am a biased man so I will say Kenya and Zimbabwe but other than these places,I have to say the other friendly place I have ever been to is the USA. It is the best country as far as I am concerned for solo travelers. People invite you to stay in their homes after just meeting you.
Are you luxury or budget traveler?
Would you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler?
I like to think of myself as a traveler but when I start taking pictures I probably look very much like an annoying tourist!
What is in your bucket list?
I really want to climb the Ruwenzoris, explore the Mathews mountains in Northern Kenya and see the Gorillas in Congo. I would also like to Visit and hike in Northern Greece.
Can you share with us some of your travelutions for this coming year?
I plan to hike the Ruwenzori’s, do a walk from Mount Ololokwe to the Mathews mountains, then Cherang’any Hills and visit Eldoret where my granddad and my parents were all born. I am also keeping an open mind for other adventures. Any suggestions are always welcome!
Best travel moments in the past year?
I did a wonderful five day hike in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe called the Turaco Trail. I enjoyed hiking to the top of the Mount Ololokwe recently well as.My latest Trip was a visit to Isaqbini in Garissa County to find the Hirola Antelope!
Best life lessons you’ve picked from travel?
Try to always keep an open mind and everywhere has something to offer even if it is just to provoke you to think differently. Adventure is a mindset.
You don’t need to travel to the other end of the world to have a great adventure.
If you are not traveling what else do you do?
I have to sadly work!I run Kizingo lodge in Lamu part time and as a project manager in Ruiru.
Have you checked out Dion’s photos on Instagram? If not, check here.
Do you any questions you’d like Dion to answer about travel? Hit him up on the comment section below.
Who else do you want to talk about their travels, let me know on the comments section as well!