Meet Dineo Zonke Maduna fulltime South African world traveller

Meet Dineo Zonke Maduna. This South African left her 9-5 day job and is now living the dream travelling the world fulltime! Dineo is from Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), Mpumalanga, and according to her this is one of the most beautiful provinces in the country. The last place she lived in was Johannesburg before she packed her bags and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.

Mexico - Cozumel Island.
Mexico – Cozumel Island. “Mexico’s Cozumel island is great for snorkelling and diving. On this day i saw a Star Puffer, Yellow Stingray, Giant Barracuda and Angelfish.” Picture by Dineo Zonke Maduna.

“I’m the kind of person who lives for adventure”

“Travelling is my life! I’ve found so much joy in it and it certainly makes me a better person. I’m currently on an exciting adventure which began in September 2018 – I traded in my fulltime job to backpack throughout Central and South America. I’m the kind of person who lives for adventure, whether its paragliding or camping right next to an active volcano in Guatemala, diving with a Dugong (sea cow) in the Red Sea or island hopping in beautiful Philippines. The world is my playground and I only hope to continue to explore more of it.

I never imagined that this would be my life. For some reason, I thought I would need to win the lottery to travel to all countries that I have been to so far. Backpacking has allowed me to stretch my budget. Not only is it a fun way to travel but backpacking has also made me appreciate the privileges that I have because I’m exposed to how the average locals live like in the countries I visit.

As a travel blogger, photographer and travel planner, my aim is to awaken the travel bug in everyone I meet. Over the years, I have planned all my trip myself and have gained substantial knowledge. I enjoy assisting people reach their travel goals and discover new places which they may have not thought of travelling in.

Guatemala - Acatenango Volcano
Guatemala – Acatenango Volcano. “Enjoying the view of erupting Fuego volcano from the base camp of Acatenango volcano.” Picture by Dineo Zonke Maduna.

“My goal was to travel to 30 countries before my 30th birthday”

I would have to thank my parents for my passion for travelling because since my childhood, they made sure we travelled often, both locally and internationally.

A few years ago, I set a few travel goals for myself. One of them was to travel to 30 countries before my 30th birthday, and another was to travel full time. I spent a lot of time researching and planning to figure out when those dreams could be realised. I was waiting for the ‘right time’.

Like with many things in life, there is no ‘right time’ for travelling. I soon realised this and started making saving money a priority. Last year, I quit my job as a Quantity Surveyor in Johannesburg and ventured in to the unknown. I did not have a plan, just a one-way ticket to live the life I had always dreamed of. The 23rd of March 2019 is a special day for me because I arrived in Panama, which meant that I had completed traveling to all the countries in Central America and reached my ’30 countries before 30’ travel goal.

Switzerland - The Alps
Switzerland – The Alps. “Sledging adventure in the heart of the Swiss Alps.” Picture by Dineo Zonke Maduna.

These are some of my favourite countries so far:

Mexico – It’s a country which is ideal for everyone because it offers a wide variety of beautiful destinations. From the dessert, ancient ruins, volcanoes, rainforest covered mountains, picturesque colonial cities, and diving or snorkelling. Mexico has it all! It is very colourful and as a person who enjoys wearing bright coloured clothing and daring prints, I walked the streets with a big smile on my face. From my experience, the food is the best in the whole of Central America and very affordable too. One taco is about R5 – R10.

The Philippines – Not only is it a cheap country to travel but the people are kind, friendly and extremely welcoming. It’s the ideal island destination with endless amounts of beaches, palm trees, crystal clear turquoise water and secluded places. My definition of paradise!

Austria – Vienna is a lovely metropolitan city where, in a single stroll, you might pass by horse-drawn carriages or a beautiful museum. It offers affordable and well-organized public transport, has a vast amount of cultural entertainment. I love the Christmas markets, Glühwein is a spicy wine that you definitely need to try! I understand why Vienna was ranked as one the best city to live in around the world. The Schönbrunn Palace is my favourite attraction, especially in the spring when the garden is full of colourful flowers and trees.

South Africa - Blyde River Canyon
South Africa – Blyde River Canyon. “Appreciating the picturesque fresh mountain scenery and panoramic views of the Blyde River Canyon.” Picture by Dineo Zonke Maduna.

“South Africa will always be one of my favourite destinations.”

In all the countries I have explored, South Africa will always be one of my favourite destinations. I’m currently in Colombia and thinking of home right now is making me teary eyed. South Africa is amazing! I love that it caters for adventure lovers, is rich in history and culture, and of course, the wildlife.

I have been fortunate enough to live in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. My weekends were often filled with trips to world class destinations like the Kruger National Park, the Panorama Route and the Garden route. I also love (and miss) the outside food markets in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

I can’t talk about South African without mentioning the lovely people. It’s incredible that we have the ability to stand united and celebrate our colourful different cultures.”

Dineo loves sharing her travels on her blog and social media platforms.

Travel Blog: dineozonke.com

Instagram & Twitter: @Dineo_Zonke

Facebook: Dineo Zonke: Travel & Photography

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