Perhaps one of my most favourite travel quotes is, “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Relatable? There’s no denying it. Brilliantly penned by 14th-century scholar and world traveller, Ibn Battuta, these few simple words capture the very essence of travel.
Travel gives us our greatest campfire stories, our (sometimes overused) bragging rights, our most insightful discoveries, as well as countless fascinating learnings that we can pay forward to others. Travel educates us, it inspires us, it both invigorates and relaxes us, it broadens our horizons and, like a reset button, it encourages us to refocus on what really matters.
Travel is an education for the young and young at heart. Nowadays, not all classrooms have four walls, and here at &Beyond we wholeheartedly believe that time spent on a family adventure in a faraway land is a million times better than hours spent in a classroom or words gleaned from a textbook.
Just ask the Dharod family. When they travelled all the way from India to South Africa for their very first &Beyond safari back in 2016, little did they know just how much this quality time spent together exploring the wonders of a foreign country would affect them.
With three generations travelling together, brothers Arya and Ayan (then 9 and 6) had the time of their lives alongside their parents and grandparents as they experienced the beauty of South Africa, from cosmopolitan Cape Town and the scenic Garden Route to the captivating wilderness of &Beyond Phinda and Ngala Private Game Reserves.
Everyone, from six-year-old Ayan to his 60-year-old grandfather (for whom this 19-day family escape was a birthday gift), watched the extraordinary African wildlife in absolute awe. A leopard effortlessly dragged a fresh kill up a tree, a young elephant mock charged them, lions roared and chased each other around, a herd of 30 elephants crossed in front of their vehicle, hyenas gently interacted with their tiny cubs and, what would become the highlight of the trip, a pack of African wild dogs gave chase and caught a speedy hare with obvious ease.
Upon returning to their home in Hyderabad, Arya was so enchanted by all he had seen that he started documenting their family adventure by way of a children’s storybook. Travel clearly turned this young explorer into a storyteller and Arya is now a published author with his own book now available on Amazon. What an incredible feat for a ten-year-old and such a wonderful way for him, and his brother, to pay their travel learnings forward.
The book, entitled “Clumsy Diaries: The Life of an African Wild Dog”, is an endearing and amusing autobiography told from the perspective of an African wild dog in South Africa named Clumsy. It documents Clumsy’s life journey, from birth to death, and then onto wild dog heaven where he experiences canine utopia. One of 23 wild dogs in his large pack, Clumsy has some dramatic wildlife encounters, a few near-death experiences and learns many important life lessons along the way.
Each of the 40 chapters that Arya chronicled was inspired by the unforgettable moments he experienced on his once-in-a-lifetime &Beyond safari. Equally inspired by the African memories, Ayan also contributed to his big brother’s book by providing all of the paintings and illustrations. A thousand copies of the Clumsy Diaries have already been distributed and the second batch is now available on Amazon.
With an insatiable wanderlust spirit, the Dharod family recently returned from yet another &Beyond adventure, this time exploring the dramatic landscapes and natural beauty of Nepal. They spent six days together at Meghauli Serai (one of our preferred partner properties that borders the beautiful Chitwan National Park) and by chance happened to meet our former general managers of &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Stephanie Mast and Markus Schroeder, who are enjoying a new adventure and ticking off a major bucket list item by spending a few months in Asia.
Rather serendipitously, Arya actually received the incredible news about his book deal when he was in Nepal, so true to &Beyond style, Steph and Markus organised a formal book signing event at the lodge for this promising young author. A momentous occasion we’re sure the Dharods will never forget. Arya and Ayan will be back for a third &Beyond adventure next year … this time witnessing East Africa’s Great Migration. So watch this space, who knows, Clumsy may just return with a new collection of stories from Kenya and Tanzania. You never know.