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Interview with Anton Crone

INTERVIEW WITH A NOMAD

We are delighted to be taking you on a great photo voyage to Africa with Anton Crone, the founder of one of the best websites of its kind - Safarious...

Anton, tell us a little bit about your background and how your love of travel developed.

My dad was a cop in Zimbabwe. He was transferred a lot; we were always moving home - different schools, different friends, different horizons. Perhaps that's where it developed - less a desire to move, more a necessity. After moving to South Africa I got stuck in the advertising industry. I travelled to some wonderful places to film commercials; I lived in the States and Norway for a number of years, but it was only once I left the industry to become a travel writer that I developed a real love for travel.

Ice-cream salesman in Lagos, Nigeria
You are particularly attracted to the wilderness. Can you explain why? Give us a few experiences you have had in the wild which have really meant something to you.

I find a sense of connection if I spend time in the wilderness. The last one I had was a few months back camping in the Hoanib valley in Namibia. Elephants surrounded my tent to eat the pods of the tree I had camped under. I feel asleep to the rumbling of their stomachs. 
 
The most profound connection I had was in the Canadian Rockies. After a five day hike I was descending a narrow mountain pass when I came across a huge grizzly and her cub, blocking the only way down. It was snowing, it was getting dark and I had to return to the top of the pass and spend the night up there. It was incredibly cold. I was tired, lonely, hungry. I was afraid the bear would follow me. I sat on a rock looking at a mountain called "Assiniboine"which is shaped like the teepee of the Assiniboine nation. Snow was falling, the sun descended just below the roof of clouds, and when it disappeared and I felt something incredible: a distinct connection - with the Earth and everything on it, including that bear. From then on I felt completely at ease. 
 
I seek out those types of connections.

A Himba woman shelters from Namibia's extreme heat
You are the founder of Safarious, one of the leading South African travel sites. Tell us a little about the motivation and challenges in getting this off the ground.
We wanted to give travellers a way of connecting directly with wilderness travel professionals in their respective locations,  instead of reaching out to travel agents who have spent little or no time in the wilderness. So we created a place where travellers, and professionals, can write their own blogs, connect with one another, get real travel advice and ultimately plan and book their own wilderness adventures. 
What do you believe distinguishes Safarious as a travel site? What is it you are most proud of about it?

It is focused purely on wilderness and adventure travel, and I think that those type of journeys have the most profound effect on people because they are challenged more, they are more exposed on those type of journeys. I'm most proud of the reputation we have made for our news coverage of conservation issues. Key to that is our deputy editor Tony Weaver who is a veteran hard news journalist. 

Elephant-dust bath, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
How do you manage to combine your nomadic nature with keeping up a blog like this? And do you find that blogging may take away from the authenticity of the travel experience or not, and why?

I don't do enough blogging these days as I'm focused on promoting Safarious. When I do travel, I try to combine it with projects, people, or environments that are related to conservation. I think blogging - or story telling - enhances the travel experience. By narrating a journey you reveal the aspects that have true meaning. 

Coffin delivery, Uganda
You are from Zimbabwe and South Africa. How do you believe that has influenced your view of the world? And how do others react when you tell them where you are from?
I guess it means I look at the world through a filter that is coloured by extreme change because of the revolutions in Zimbabwe and South Africa. I guess it makes me accustomed to change, and that affects the way I view the world. It means I find African travel more interesting because most of the destinations are in a state of flux, they are often unpredictable.

You are somewhat of an expert in Southern Africa. What are some hidden gems you have discovered which may not be all that known?

Lake Malawi. Spending time with the people along the lakeshore is life-changing. They lead an unpretentious, humble life. I am seldom happier than when I am there. 
 
Zambia as whole is a remarkable wilderness destination. It is incredibly diverse and the wilderness experiences are superior to Kenya or Tanzania, in my opinion. 
'Petit Flash', Segou, Mali
What can you not travel without? 

Curiosity.

So, what are your travel plans for the rest of 2018?

Rwanda for a conservation conference in October and a visit to Akagera National Park. South Africa's Kruger National Park in November to photograph birds during the day and learn about the little known life of creatures at night. 

Pineapple salesman, Tanzania
Finally, our signature question - if you could invite any four people from any period in history to dinner, who would be on your guest list and why?
Bruce Chatwin - a travel writer who knew how to find the fascinating in the mundane, who paid respect to every moment of his journeys and the people he met.
 
Werner Herzog - a filmmaker who, like Chatwin, exposes the extraordinary aspects of supposedly unremarkable people and places. 
 
Lewis Mangaba - a Zimbabwean Safari guide who taught me some of the ways of the wild. Lewis knows the wilderness intimately.
 
Craig Foster - a renowned South African natural history filmmaker. He has dedicated himself to learning the secrets of the kelp forests off the South African coast. He's been diving there every day for seven years and knows them better than anyone. 
Giraffe in the desert of northern Namibia
Anton travelling with friends somewhere above Zimbabwe...
The photos in this interview are from Anton's personal collection and we thank him for sharing them with us at NomadMania!