Jared Ruttenburg is an independent travel journalist who has had the privilege of profiling over 120 of South Africa’s most beautiful places in word, photo and social media. He writes weekly for several publications across the country. With a soft spot for great wine, Jared has visited and tasted his way through almost 100 of the country’s wineries. As a qualified tour guide, he also spends a little time introducing guests to some of Cape Town’s most stunning spots. His days are split between Cape Town, Johannesburg, and his various travel assignments around the country.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
As with many South Africans, my parents cultivated a love for travel in us kids from a young age, taking every opportunity we could to visit new and exciting places around the country. This love for travel remained a key trend for me throughout my childhood and into my adult years.
What kind of traveller are you?
My travel plans are like a bag of Liquorice Allsorts. I’m equally at home in budget backpackers’ accommodation and a luxury hotel. At the end of the day, I’m less interested in the thread count of the duvet, and more into the story that each individual accommodation has to tell. While comfort counts for a lot, I think both experience and hospitality speak the loudest.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trip.
The Outpost is the northern-most lodge in the Kruger National Park, sitting not far the border, where you find a confluence of countries. The guide assigned to me was Samuel Japane. Over our four days together, I began to learn Samuel’s story. He went from being a security guard in his fifties to one of the Kruger’s most respected bird guides. Needless to say, the tears streamed down my face as he told me his inspiring life story.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID?
I’ve felt like COVID has forced a much-needed spring clean. Almost all of us have had to reassess our time, finances, core work, who we spend time with, etc. We’ve had to look more closely at our lives than we ever have. My hope for myself – and certainly others – is that yes, we shall grieve what is lost, but also that we’ll emerge with renewed focus and be much more intentional with how we spend our time and money, and who we do this with.
How confident are you that the travel and tourism industry in Africa (especially South Africa) will survive & prosper over the next 2-3 years?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Overall, we will survive as a nation. After all, South Africans are resilient and resourceful people. Time and time again over the past years, we’ve been thrown seemingly insurmountable challenges. There will, however, be some causalities as not everyone will have the means to survive this – and that is a bitter pill to swallow.
What do we need to do to make sure that happens?
We’re going to need to collaborate as we never have before, refine our offerings, broaden our target markets and differentiate marketing. Unfortunately, things won’t be ‘business as usual’, so continuous innovation and creatively working with others will, I think, be the mark of success.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: Hotel restaurants that support and empower their local farmers
- Like to taste: Single vineyard wines that beautifully express their terroir
- Like to feel: The warmth of the fire at a lodge’s evening boma
- Like to hear: The orchestra of the wild when I’m sleeping in a treehouse
- Like to smell: The wet-urban smell in Johannesburg after a Highveld storm
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
Researching the geotags of locations you’re interested in on Instagram is always an interesting exercise. Be sure to always click on the “Recent” tab where you’re most likely to encounter locals’ posts. National Geographic Travel (now only found online) is also a great treasure trove of stories, and I think that a Conde Nast Traveller subscription is always a worthwhile spend.
Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week?
WTM Africa is powerful as it connects people. The tourism industry thrives when the right relationships are in place. For this reason, trade shows will always be important in fostering relationships. We’ll just have to navigate the sometimes-confusing space with digital vs. real life.