Ondela Mlandu is driven by a passion for our home continent and a desire to celebrate and share African history with the world. She is a multimedia journalist who has written for magazine powerhouses such as True Love Magazine, Getaway Magazine, Mail & Guardian, and Women’s Health, to name a few.

Ondela has experience as a radio host and currently hosts a weekly travel show on Cape Town’s biggest digital radio station, 2Oceansvibe Radio. Last year, Ondela was recognised as a Contiki Changemaker, a global award honouring individuals who are changing the world through travel.

How did you fall in love with travelling?

I fell in love with travelling long before I’d even stepped out of the house. I’d page through magazines, read books, and envision myself in these beautiful places. Deep down, my imagination had been taking me around the world. When I was 13, I had the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time and I went to Perth, Australia. 

What kind of traveller are you?

Being a nomad comes naturally to me. I’m the kind of traveller that has no problem living out of a suitcase. Working for travel magazines has made me flexible, although like most folk, I enjoy the glamorous side of travelling. I’m able to rough it out, camp or embrace the backpacker lifestyle. I’m an explorer at heart. You’ll almost always find me up at sunrise, delving into my surroundings.

What’s your travel philosophy?

Immerse yourself in the culture of a country as much as possible. I love connecting with the locals, learning their language, and sampling their cuisine. Ever since adopting this philosophy, I’ve been able to create strong bonds, some of which still last today. 

What are your top travel essentials?

Don’t forget your passport. Remember the sunscreen, insect repellent (it’s as important as your passport), hand cream and a water bottle.

Where was your most memorable trip?

This is like asking a mum who their favourite child is! All my trips are memorable, but one that stands out is Seychelles. I loved every element of my trip and adopting new perspectives on their history. The food was divine, and tackling their outdoor and hiking scene was a blast. Everyone was so helpful, and their rum was truly spectacular. The Seychelles was nothing less than an incredible journey filled with warm hearts and loving folk.

How has travelling changed your life?

Travelling has groomed me into the woman I am today. It’s shaped my understanding of people and how I choose to interact with others around the world. It’s made me so grateful for the things I’d take for granted.

When borders open again and the world starts to return to ‘a new normal’ what’s your first travel destination on your list?

I can’t wait for the new normal. I’ll be travelling in my home country, South Africa. Our country is a beautiful one, and I want to be part of a change that helps restore the economy. We have it all: the ocean, safaris, culture, great food and the friendliest people. I’m definitely looking to take a road trip through all of our provinces. South Africa is such a treat and local travel is always lekker!

Best travel advice you can share?

Always tip tour guides and show appreciation towards those that help. Tipping tour guides, waiters and waitresses can make a huge difference in someone’s life. A simple please and thank you goes a long way. When dealing with people for hours on end, a friendly smile could brighten up someone’s day.


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Robyn McEwan                                                                     Casey van Niekerk
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