I’m so excited finally get to see my Shamwari Diaries project completed, and hold in my hands a beautifully printed, full colour, 360-page copy of my Shamwari travel diary from my days volunteering at the private game reserve, back when I was 18 years old.
Each entry was typed up and edited, and illustrated with its corresponding imagery; which meant sorting through 3,000 photos, across 10 discs (yes, this was 2008, where saving photos onto CD-ROM and reducing file sizes by ditching most of the metadata — including date taken! — seemed like a good idea).
But the result was a wonderful journey into the past and through some of the most important days in my volunteer and conservation career history, that would go on to inform some of the biggest and best decision in my life.
In case you missed it, you can read the Shamwari Diaries blog series from the very beginning here — where I set the scene for looking back at my 18-year-old self’s first foray into independence and re-live the moment a long term dream came true, when I first stepped foot into Born Free’s big cat sanctuary as a volunteer.
My aim was always to turn my travel diaries into something more permanent than the pen and paper notebook version that’s miraculously lasted 12 years and 15 house moves — but I never imagined it would look and feel this good.
I can’t wait to sit with my children one day and read through all those amazing adventures together. Who knows what it may inspire?