When it comes to exploring destinations you won’t usually find in guide books, she speaks not of the places you’ll see. Instead, she emphasizes the importance of immersing yourself in a different culture as your ultimate journey. “[It’s] not just the adventure. The key to exploring is you should definitely manage your expectations; you should keep an open mind, and you should always be curious.”
We then ask her about what we need to change about the way we look at Africa. “Africa is not about animals—that’s a misconception. It’s about the experience. It’s all nature, which is amazing,” she answers.
So how and when did Tracie become so fascinated with unknown destinations and journeys? “On my first time in Africa, my husband took me to a level 7 safari,” Tracie begins as she recounts her story. “Tourists will go through levels 1, 2, 3; I went from zero to level 7!” she exclaims. This meant swimming in crocodile-infested waters and living in houseboats near lakes where hippos bathed. “After we’d gone, one year later, the camp [that hosted us] closed. [Back then,] I had thought, how could you even run a camp like that? It was so wild! But after that trip, I was hooked.”
With this, A2A Safaris encourages tourists to make specialized itineraries, from bird-watchers who want to witness a foreign species in action to foodies who want to learn about a country’s cuisine from its grassroots beginnings. On its 13th year, A2A launched a new division: A2A Journeys, which helps travelers experience Latin America and Antarctica. “We’re about experiential travel,” Tracie notes.
With all of these, she teaches us that traveling is beyond what we can frame in our photographs or the perceptions we get from movies or music videos. It’s about embracing a different lifestyle and understanding untouched wonders.
Source: Pristine L. De Leon for Inquirer Red, “Running Wild,” August 2015.
Photo by Joseph Pascual