2015 in Photographs

This post is inspired by Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere Travel Blog and his 2015: A Year in Photography post.

I travelled around South Africa quite a bit in 2015, more so than I have in previous years, both for work and leisure – I’m a strong supporter of exploring your own country. I also visited Mozambique (twice) and travelled to Tanzania for the first time. I explore at least one new country each year, so that I have always visited the same number of countries as my age, if not more. Tanzania was country #29 on the list, just ahead of my 29th birthday at the end of March.

In the coming months I’ll blog about the places I visited, and will link back to this post, but in the meantime here are 20 of my favourite travel photographs of 2015. It was hard choosing 20, so you’ll find the others on my Instagram gallery as I post a photo a day throughout the year.

Sensitive viewers: photograph 20 is of a lioness with her kill.


Oom Chris Smit of Oppikoppie Museum

#1 I spent February and March travelling around Mpumalanga province on assignment. I met 83-year-old Oom Chris Smit, who is Wakkerstroom‘s self-appointed historian and ambassador, and has converted his home into a private museum (Oppikoppie). It houses thousands of artefacts, such as Zulu spears and grinding stones  as well as Anglo-Boer War memorabilia and a wooden 3D view master.
Elsie's Peak

Elsie’s Peak

#2 In April I travelled to Cape Town and hiked Elsie’s Peak with a friend. This was the view. We were lucky enough to catch this passing seaside train en route to Simon’s Town.
Table Mountain

Table Mountain and Lion’s Head at sunset

#3 While in Cape Town, I  spent a lot of time photographing Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. Here’s a long exposure at sunset, as cars ribbon their way up to Signal Hill.

Sunrise outlines Johannesburg

#4 I attended quite a number of instameets (organized Instagram walks) throughout the year, most of them were in Johannesburg. This photograph was taken at a sunrise instameet on 01 May (Worker’s Day).
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Moses Mabhida Stadium

#5 In early May, I travelled to the seaside city of Durban for the Travel Indaba. While there I visited Moses Mabhida Stadium, which will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. This makes South Africa the first African host.
Blyde River Canyon

Blyde (Motlatse) River Canyon

#6 At the end of May, my dad and I took a road trip along Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route to the Blyde (Motlatse) River Canyon, which is the world’s third deepest and the greenest canyon. I visited the Canyon again later in the year with South African Tourism.
Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

#7 Pictured here is my dad looking up at the 146metre-high Bridal Veil Falls, just outside of Sabie in Mpumalanga. Can you spot him?
Maputo Central Market

Maputo Central Market

#8 In early September I was off to explore Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, for a few days. The former Portuguese colony is internationally renowned for its architectural splendor, with projects by architects Pancho Guedes and Jose Forzaj. This is the colourful central market.
Maputo Train Station

Maputo Train Station

#9 Maputo’s train station has been named as one of the world’s ‘Top 10 Most Beautiful’ by Architectural Review magazine and I understand why.
Goncalo Mabunda

Mozambican sculptor Goncalo Mabunda

#10 I interviewed Goncalo Mabunda, who had exhibited at Venice’s Biennale two weeks earlier. The sculptor uses weapons and machinery to create African masks and thrones that comment on post-conflict Mozambique, as the civil war ended in 1992.
Pilgrim's Rest

Man watching a soap opera at a bar in Pilgrim’s Rest.

#11 In September on the back of South Africa’s first national instameet, I did a 9-day cross-country road trip with South African Tourism and fellow bloggers. The gold mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest, which was established in 1873, was one of the many small towns we visited along the way. Today, it’s a provincial heritage site.
Bourke's Luck Portholes

Bourke’s Luck Portholes

#12 Visiting Bourke’s Luck Potholes, also along the Panorama Route, was one of my highlights on our South African Tourism road trip.
Nieu Bethesda

The Gothic NG Kerk in Nieu Bethesda

#13 But the most intriguing destination I visited in 2015 was hands down Nieu Bethesda. I even wrote an ode to the Great Karoo sheep farming town that counts the late Miss Helen Martins as one of its own. While the townsfolk alienated this Outsider Art creative, who made sculptures using wire, cement and crushed glass, today she has made the town famous.
Dhow boat

Dhow on Bazaruto Island

#14 October saw me return to Mozambique, but this time to Bazaruto Island off the north-eastern coast of the country. The local fishermen use dhow boats, which float along the horizon. Paradise Island can be seen in the distance.
Bazaruto Island

Bazaruto Island

#15 We spotted these boys from the nearby fishing village on our way back to Anantara from Dolphin Bay.
Bazaruto Island

Girls collecting water on Bazaruto Island

#16 I count myself extremely lucky to have access to clean water and sanitation, unlike these girls who have to walk from their village to the borehole to fill buckets of water. They place green leaves on the water’s surface so it doesn’t evaporate in the heat. If you’d like to make a donation towards clean water and sanitation solutions, you can do so at water.org.
Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam

#17 I was thrilled to visit Tanzania during October and November. This is downtown Dar es Salaam as photographed from the offices of Africa’s youngest billionaire. I interviewed Mohammed Dewji of MeTL Group, who has an estimated net worth of $1.25 billion, for African Independent Newspaper. This photograph is a reminder that Africa is not all doom, gloom and dust.
Dar es Salaam

Phineas the mobile coffee seller

#18 Machingas – mobile vendors who sell everything from electronics to hard-boiled candy, cooked corn and coffee – walk Dar es Salaam’s streets. This is Phineas, like Phineas Fogg from Around the World in 80 days he walks the capital city for hours selling a cup of espresso and a piece of peanut brittle candy for TSH200 ($0.10).

A Bagamoyo school pupil

#19 I travelled beyond Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo, Tanzania’s former capital city, which was once East Africa’s most prominent trading port. Here, I visited two schools. It made my heart happy to talk to the children and do a short lesson with them. It made me realise how much I  miss teaching and reminded me how rewarding I find it.
Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve

#20 I’ve been on countless safaris, but none compare to the day-long outride at Selous Game Reserve during my stay at the Serena Mivumo River Lodge. I spotted a leopard for the first time and a lion pride with a fresh kill. We saw four of the big five, except for the rhino, and did two water safaris along the Rufuji River, which winds its way through the national park for 450km towards the Indian Ocean.

Iga Motylska

Iga Motylska is a Johannesburg-based freelance writer, photojournalist, sub-editor and blogger. She is published in numerous local and international publications, including: Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, Forbes Life Africa, CNBC Africa, Ventures Africa, Marie Claire, Sawubona, AA Traveller, Fastjet inflight magazine and Seoul Magazine among numerous others. Her editorial interests range from documenting the entrepreneurial spirit to women's and human rights issues, environmental affairs and of course travel writing.


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  7. travelingchristie

    Wow what an incredible set of photos and what a wonderful year, you have really captured the essence of the locations I love them all

    • Thanks for your kind words Christie. I hope to explore even further beyond the worn out tourist paths this year. :) How about you? What are your travel plans?

  8. Great photos. I like the way they go well beyond the tourism track. The photo of the one student in school is my favourite.

    • Thank you Cindy! :) Mine too, it’s my favourite photo of the year. I really enjoyed my time with the students, visiting the schools was so much fun and very humbling too. I search out those kind of travel experiences where I can.

  9. very nice

  10. Absolutely stunning Iga!! So very inspiring!! xx

  11. You took some delightful images, Iga. I look forward to seeing your work this year. Travel well!

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