Reflections on 2015 Travels: From Antarctica to Africa

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As the end of another year approaches, people around the world are reflecting on the ‘year that was’, reading the ‘best of’ lists that are dominating news feeds and making New Year resolutions that, for the majority, won’t be kept.

And despite the cynic in me recognising the end of the year as nothing more than one day ticking over to the next, I find myself inevitably doing the same thing.

My main goal over the past few years has been to achieve a healthier work-life balance, creating the time and opportunity to focus on my passions for travel and photography.

And as I take a moment to reflect on the locations and experiences I’ve enjoyed in 2015, I’m not only satisfied that I was able to achieve this balance, but I’m reminded why its so important to me to try and do it.

My decision to enjoy a lifestyle dominated by travel and photography in recent years is not only motivated by a restless soul finding solace in extended travel breaks, a curious mind seeking knowledge and thought-provoking experiences or a determination to live life instead of existing through it. It is driven by the lessons I keep learning – about the world, about other people and about myself.

And it’s why I’ll continue to try and achieve this balance in 2016.

I’m looking forward to exploring Greenland for the first time in 2016 and have some other locations I’m hoping to get to, so watch this space. In the meantime, you are welcome to look back on my year of travel with me, through some of my favourite photographs of what was an incredible collection of locations and experiences.

Antarctica

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Like many people in the world, I started the year with a drink in my hand at a New Years Eve Party.  But it wasn’t just any old party – it was aboard an expedition ship, surrounded by ice, snow and glaciers.  I started the year in Antarctica, my favourite location the world and it set the scene for an inspirational year of travel and photography.

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Argentina

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Having to get to Ushuaia to board the ship to Antarctica provided the perfect opportunity to explore more of Argentina when I returned.  After some time in Ushuaia and El Calafate, I headed east to explore Iguazu Falls (with a day trip to Brazil) before spending a few days in what turned out to be the highlight for me, Esteros del Ibera wetlands.

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Chile

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Chile has been on my wish list for a number of years and I couldn’t resist the urge to cross the border from Argentina to spend a few days driving through Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.  It gave me a taste of what the country has to offer and the desire to return for a longer trip in the future.

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Finland

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A long weekend in Finland proved to be one of my unexpected highlights of the year, with a stunning sunset in Kajaani preceding three nights in a photography hide to photograph brown bears at the Martinselkonen Wildlife Centre near the Russian border.  It was a great reminder of why I continue to use London as a base, despite the more attractive weather and lifestyle back in Australia.

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Kenya

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I arrived in Kenya hoping to photograph a major river crossing in the Masai Mara, during the annual great migration.  I left disappointed at having the rare experience of being in the Mara for a week in August, when no major crossings took place.  But I also left incredibly inspired by the spectacular wildlife sightings I enjoyed across the stunning landscape.  An inspiration that motivated me to return for another week in December, in addition to a short visit further north to Samburu.  The Masai Mara has joined Antarctica and South Georgia as my favourite wildlife locations in the world.

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Madagascar

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I arrived in Madagascar with high expectations for the month I had planned.  I left with them exceed.  The wildlife was unique, the landscape diverse, the culture fascinating and the people warm, friendly and incredibly welcoming.  It was a location that simply blew my mind and has me wanting to return again and again.  It provided highlight after highlight, the best perhaps being the breaching humpback whales that greeted me in Ile Ste Marie.

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Ethiopia

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My ten weeks in Ethiopia was spent solely in the Omo Valley, volunteering with the Hamar community near Turmi.  It provided a fascinating insight into a tribe that has maintained it’s traditions and culture for centuries, despite being surrounded by an ever-changing world.  It introduced me to the challenges they face in trying to maintain that culture whilst striving for better lives.  And it provided many thought-provoking moments in a region that is struggling to find the balance between benefiting from tourism and being changed by it.

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What has been your favourite travel memory of 2015?  Happy travels in 2016!

 

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

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