“Speaking of Travel” – Peru, Cuba, Africa – My Interview on I Heart Radio

Speaking of travel

A while back, I was featured in a USA Today article entitled Life-changing travel: Bloggers share their magical moments. In it, I talked about my trip to Machu Picchu – a destination that was a first for me on many fronts.

A few weeks later I received an email from Marilyn Ball, a vivacious southerner from North Carolina who hosts a local weekly radio show, and a podcast on I Heart Radio called Speaking of Travel.  She’d read the piece and invited me to speak about my trip to Peru as well as travel in general, on her show. How could I not oblige?

As it turns out the conversation was a blast. Here are some of the topics we talked about:

  • Living and working in Spain after college
  • How to fund your travel dreams
  • Machu Picchu: The start of two  important firsts in my life
  • How I started blogging as The Insatiable Traveler
  • The benefits of photo tours
  • Cuba and my approach to taking portraits
  • What inspires my choice of travel destinations

If you’d like to hear more,  here are a couple more podcasts that I’ve done. These two were with Chris Christensen of The Amateur Traveler.

Leopard lying down in Timbavati, South Africa
The beautiful leopard, Rock Fig Jr., in Timbavati, South Africa.
We had the pleasure of watching her eat after a kill.

In episode #429 we talked about what it’s like on a South African Safari

Below are Chris’ show notes to get a sense of what we talked about.

“Hear about travel to South Africa on safari as the Amateur Traveler talks to Susan Portnoy from theinsatiabletraveler.com about her recent experience in the Timbavati Game Reserve. This is the 5th time that Susan has traveled to Africa on safari to “shoot” animals… as a photographer.

“Photography is a big part of what I do on my blog. Timbavati is known for dense population of certain types of predators, leopards being one of them. Kruger [National Park], while it’s fantastic, is a big tourist attraction and you can’t get the same experience there in my opinion that you can get in other areas of South Africa.”

“I love safaris because I have a real passion for wildlife in general. I find that countries in Africa and the experience that I have had in Africa, the beauty, the serenity that I find there has been a great antidote to my life in New York City. It is something that has drawn me back. Also the skill that anyone must have to do any kind of decent wildlife photography has me constantly wanting to prove my skills.”

“The best way that I can explain Timbavati is that it has a beautiful stark and rugged quality to it.” Susan explains that this park is very different from the Africa one is familiar with from movies like “Out of Africa” or the National Geographic segments where you see wildlife migrations where you have these wild open spaces and big skies. Timbavati on the other hand is very rugged. Timbavati is filled with sand and dense bushes and dead trees that have these wonderful shapes and thorny Acacia and it just gives this incredible mood and difference to photography than you might see elsewhere.”

Springbok at sunset near Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia
Nothing quite like animals in silhouette

And in episode #466 I discuss my trip to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

“Hear about travel to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast as the Amateur Traveler talks again to Susan Portnoy of theinsatiabletraveler.com about her trip to this memorable region of Africa. Namibia is the size of France and Great Britain combined but with only 2 million people.

“The Skeleton Coast is in the northwest of Namibia along the Atlantic Ocean. The desert there is literally the oldest desert in the world. It is very formidable, and spectacular, and has some of the most unique topography you will ever see. It’s incredibly varied. It depends what part of the Skeleton Coast, it’s hundreds of miles. I spent my time at three different camps along the Skeleton Coast and in each one the topography changed. For example, in one camp that’s called Desert Rhino Camp, that’s a bit southern to the other two, it was as if I had landed on Mars. The ground was covered with billions upon billions of red rocks the size of bricks. Going into another area it might be a vast plane of gravel or it might be hard cracked desert that’s only brown in color, very stark. In another region it was a mixture of dunes and riverbeds. It really was fascinating to me how many different faces the desert actually has.”

Susan had a chance to experience two interesting planned wildlife adventures. She had a chance to see both lions and black rhinos that had adapted to life in the desert.  They can go without water longer. there’re certain plants that they can digest the non-adapted versions could not. She also had at least one unplanned wildlife encounter by her tent at night.

“One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was an opportunity to visit a local tribe of the Himba which is indigenous to Namibia. The Himba are very special and I think that even if you don’t know the Himba, if you love National Geographic and if you like to look at a lot of African photos at one point you’re probably going to come across some very statuesque women who are covered in what looks like red paint and they have a very elaborate hairdos which look like thick braids almost dreadlocks cake in this red paint or mud. What that is this paste that they created from red ocher and butterfat that they spread over their bodies every single day. It is an SPF for the brutal sun that they deal with every day. It helps to ward off biting insects. It does great things for their scan apparently because all of them had a fabulous skin and they consider it a beautiful look.”


60 thoughts on ““Speaking of Travel” – Peru, Cuba, Africa – My Interview on I Heart Radio

  1. adventuresofkatha says:

    I just found your awesome page! Congratulations of the interview and the pictures are very stunning! I started my blog only a few days ago.. I post travel stories as well:) Would be fabulous if you could check it out and give me some feedback considering you’re doing so well? Thank you!

  2. BeingSnarky says:

    Whenever I travel I meet a new version of myself. I totally suggest planning a vacation that will help you grow as a person, as well as you occasional relaxation vacation. Machu Picchu made me feel so powerful.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Agreed. Whatever someone needs at that moment, I think people should indulge. Sometimes it’s important to do nothing but veg by a pool with a good book. That being said, travel offers so much in the way of personal growth and cultural understanding. Sometimes it’s also worth pushing oneself to go beyond the umbrella drinks. 🙂

      Machu Picchu is so cool. 🙂

  3. lilisar says:

    Loved the podcasts – by the way, I discovered photography the same way, at first as a means to stay busy when traveling alone! Nowadays I like traveling alone to be able to stop for a photo when and as often as I wish…

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Thank you so very much for listening! I’m a big podcast girl – I listen to them all the time but so many people do not. Probably the majority of people do not.

      On the photography front: Yes! I have become incredibly selfish about my travel experiences. Traveling alone give me the permission to do exactly what I want, when I want to. It’s a freedom I am most cognizant of when I’m traveling with others and I can’t. LOL

  4. cperciaccanto says:

    That’s amazing. Glad you were able to share your extraordinary stories with others, on such a large front. I’m sure many others will also be inspired by your spirt for adventure and love of travel and photography . Congrats!!

      • francetaste says:

        A lot of safari tourists, though, stay isolated from the locals. Unless they go to a special village to see them, like another kind of safari. No engagement, in other words. Or empathy, like you explained with the use of mud–you saw they were smart to use local materials, instead of saying, yuck, these people smear mud on themselves. That you may spread the word….

  5. hmunro says:

    Congratulations on these wonderful interviews, Susan! I’ve bookmarked your post so I can come back when I don’t have a looming deadline and listen to them all. 🙂

  6. Life's Happy Highlights says:

    I absolutely love this, thanks for sharing I will definitely listen to the interviews. All of my grandparents emigrated to the US from Cuba and in the past few years I have become increasingly obsessed with the island nation. It is a dream of mine to get to go and see the country that I may have called home in another life. Safe travels & all the best!

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