Q&A: Scott Ramsay

2012-04-29 20:17

Let's just come right out and admit it, no matter how much we love our actual jobs, precious few of us really enjoy sitting behind a desk from nine to five, five days a week, fifty weeks a year, now do we? And, here's something even harder to admit - even fewer of us are brave enough to do anything about it.

But about three years ago, Scott Ramsay, 36, a marketer by trade, a photographer and writer by talent and a conservationist by soul, decided that this would not be him... and so was born the idea for his incredible journey through 31 of South Africa's most special national parks and game reserves, a journey he aptly baptized "Year in the Wild."

Although he only just embarked on the first phase of the trip in July this year, exploring Africa and living out his passion for photography and conservation had been a big dream of his for more than 15 years. It was just that a viable way to do it, didn't seem to present itself very readily. "At first I had a dream to travel to all the capital cities of Africa, but then I realized that it would take too much time and money, and it could also be quite dangerous," he explained.

It wasn't until 2009 that the horizons of Joburg finally became too limited, the tie around his neck too tight, the selling of advertising space to car salesman who didn't give him the time of day too soul-killing, and the decision to opt out and take the big plunge unavoidable.

"I approached SANParks at the beginning of 2010 with a proposal to visit each of their parks and document their diversity by taking photographs, doing video recordings and writing articles. Lucky for me they were open to the idea from the start and even quite excited about the prospect," Scott recalled. This positive reception prompted him to pitch his proposal to Cape Nature, KZN Wildlife and Eastern Cape Parks too, only to be greeted with the very same enthusiasm shown by SANParks.

Now, a bit more than a year-and-a-half later Scott has already completed the first three month leg of his journey in the Western and Northern Cape, travelling between Table Mountain National Park, West Coast Park, Cederberg Wilderness Area, Tankwa Karoo, Richtersveld, and Kgalagadi. The next phase will take him along the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and right into the Eastern Cape - exploring both the coastal regions and the more arid in-land areas.

Of the parks he's visited thus far, Scott admits that the Richtersveld and the Cederberg are the ones that won his heart. "Both these places just have such an ancient and timeless feel about them. What amazes me most about the Richtersveld is how absolutely remote it is, and the Cederberg just strikes me as a highly underrated place of great beauty and magic."

But this doesn't mean that the future of his journey is any less bright - of the places still awaiting Scott, De Hoop near L'Agulhas, the Otter Trail, Mkambati on the Wild Coast, the Drakensberg and iSimangaliso are the ones he's looking forward to most.

So, apart from getting to indulge in the most wonderous beauty of our country's natural splendour, what is it that drives Scott's journey?

"I think the diversity of our natural landscape is, without a doubt, South Africa's biggest asset. I mean, just think of how built-up Europe and Japan are! South Africans are too quick to hop on a plane and go overseas. We should all realize how amazing our country is and explore it to the full. So, through Year in the Wild, I hope to make South Africans aware of the proverbial flowers at their feet," he explains.

Although this journey will be keeping him busy ‘till the end of June next year, Scott's sights are already set on expanding to South Africa's neighbouring countries and their national parks in the future. "I would like to stay focused on conservation and keep telling people why these parks and nature reserves are so important."

Sounds like the perfect job, doesn't it? Well, before you get too many shades of green with envy, Scott warns that there are also a few downsides: "I spend a lot of time driving and a lot of time alone. So, it can get quite tough at times." Hmmm... still sounds better than a desk job and in the light of the fact that Thandi Davies, his girlfriend and fellow photographer and writer, will be joining him on-and-off for the next few months, we really don't think there's too much to complain about!

Keep abreast of Scott's journey by checking out the Year in the Wild website, following the blog and his Flickr photo stream.

You can also 'like' the Year in the Wild Facebook page to get the freshest updates right in your news stream.

Imagine spending a year exploring SA's magical wild areas. This is Scott Ramsay's reality. Lucky guy.

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