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Wildlife with gold taps – travel blog goes places

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What started as a way for former 702 radio presenter and travel blogger David Batzofin to create a portfolio for his travel writing 14 years ago has become an internationally recognised travel blog.

Batzofin’s blog, Travel and Things won Best Travel and Experience Blog – South Africa 2024 from British digital lifestyle magazine, LUXLife on 29 March.

The magazine covers all aspects of a high-end lifestyle including the finest food and drink, hotels and resorts, health and beauty, automotive, jewellery, art, and technology worldwide.

It wasn’t a case of submitting his portfolio to be considered for the award, Batzofin said. “To the best of my knowledge, they found me. It’s great because it gives me access to 92 000 people that I didn’t have access to last week. It makes me believe that my work is being seen and appreciated by people who don’t know me.”

For winning the award, Batzofin was given a special badge of honour to put on his website, acknowledging his winning status. Though this is his first international award, he won best travel blog in the South African Blog Awards in 2019.

Batzofin started Travel and Things as a way for the articles he had written about his various travels to have a second life. “I have been writing for 20 years, and I wanted a second bite of the cherry,” Batzofin said.

While working at 702, one of Batzofin’s colleagues, Kate Turkington, was looking for travel writers and he suggested himself to her. “She said, ‘I know you can speak, because I’ve heard you on the radio, but can you write?’ I wrote her an article on a meal that I had at a restaurant in Pretoria, sent it off to her, and I got an email back saying, ‘Is your suitcase packed? You leave tomorrow,’” said Batzofin.

The lust for travel and wildlife began for Batzofin when he was 13 years old and his father gave him a trip to the Kruger National Park for his Barmitzvah. So it makes sense that a lot of the work Batzofin does with Travel and Things revolves around wildlife and game lodges, although he never intended it to be that way.

“Although the blog is wildlife heavy, it’s not solely wildlife. Writing about wildlife is just what I’m passionate about. There are other destinations on the blog – beach destinations, international destinations, bush destinations, and island destinations. Cruises that we’ve been on and that we’re hoping to go back to next year. There’s all of that.

“There’s something for everybody. There are book reviews, gear reviews, anything that crosses my desk that I find vaguely interesting, I’ll do something about,” he said.

While in Morocco recently, he was able to get a slice of Jewish life by visiting shuls there. “When we were in Marrakesh, we discovered a shul that had survived the earthquake a couple of years ago while a lot of the surrounding buildings were broken or flattened. This is the most amazing thing. The building right next door was flattened, yet the shul is standing. And then, at the hotel, we were staying in, I met my first Moroccan Jew. We had a long chat, and he told me about his rabbi and his family.

“In Chefchaouen, we found the Jewish quarter,” Batzofin said. “We didn’t find any Jewish people because there are very few left. There were about a quarter of a million Jews in Morocco at one stage. There are less than 2 000 now. Most of them went to Israel.”

Batzofin said wherever he is at a particular moment is the best place he has visited. “Everything has something to offer, whether it’s a high-end lodge where you’re paying R40 000 a night to watch wildlife, or if you’re staying in a tent. Either way, you’re watching the same animals.”

Batzofin described an occasion when he was travelling with two other journalists who were staying at a luxury game lodge, with luxury amenities like gold taps, while he wasn’t staying anywhere fancy, yet all three saw the same wildlife. “I don’t believe in gold taps because I want to be out of my room. I want to be out on a game drive or a walk so that I can enjoy nature,” he said.

However, Madikwe Game Reserve in North West province on the Botswana border is Batzofin’s favourite local destination, where he has stayed at 15 of the 22 camps. “The game is spectacular. You’ve got everything you could hope to see there. And it’s closer than the Kruger National Park. It’s just less than a four-hour drive from Johannesburg.”

Like many travellers, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the operation of Travel and Things. “I became a non-travelling travel writer. It kept me sane. I’m lucky in that I’m both the writer and the photographer for my blog. And I always overshoot. So if somebody takes one picture of something, I’ll take 10 pictures of the same thing. During the pandemic, I went into my archives and was able to write about places using archival footage and images that I had.”

In addition to his written blog, he started a YouTube channel called In Conversation With, also on his website. “Going back to my days as a radio presenter, I just tapped into my little black book and found people who were as bored as I was. I interviewed them about a whole variety of topics, everything from authors to comedians to fellow travel writers to theatre people, you name it,” he said.

To see his blog and website for yourself, go to

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