You know what I like? A detailed, well thought out interview. While I was reading Karen’s interview, I thought to myself, ‘this is one person who is thorough and therefore we can completely rely on her and her travel experiences.’ I am incredibly turned on by people who pay attention to detail and Karen is one of those people. She travels around Uganda and Rwanda bringing light to places we never imagined existed in these countries. I am here ready to take on Mountain Ruwenzori because of people like Karen who are challenging me to get intimate with my country and what it has to offer.
I hope you will take a thing or seven from Karen’s interview and get to know her big little world @chocolaty_prints
- Karen, tell us about yourself?
My name is Karen and I am travel writer and blogger for www.chocolatyprints.com I am passionate about travel, especially portraying the beauty of Uganda and Rwanda. I started travelling on my own in 2015 when my colleagues and I decided to utilize the Easter holiday, to take a road trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park ending up in Rwanda.
I am also passionate about international higher education. I work as a project coordinator for the Marula Research center where we facilitate exchanges between research students from Netherlands, Norway and France to work with students from Makerere University and Bukalasa Agricultural College. I hope I can play a role in creating opportunities for exchange students that visit Uganda and Africa. I also dream of creating more opportunities for Ugandan students to receive these same opportunities.
- Why the name Chocolaty Prints for your travel and lifestyle blog and what inspired you to start a blog?
Chocolaty Prints: My friends and I were looking for a catchy and cool name and came up with this one evening in a Whatsapp chat (ha ha)
The inspiration behind Chocolaty Prints was fear actually. Fear that no one would share our stories, especially the positive aspects about Uganda.
I wanted to prove to the world that Uganda was a beautiful destination, especially for nature lovers. To portray the different places to hike, the thrill in trekking gorillas (my 2018 highlight) beautiful crater lakes, tree climbing lions and the big five!
As mentioned my first trip solo was with colleagues. I was scared to be going on my own, but enjoyed this trip so much I decided to continue… Next I traveled to Malawi on my own, then later to Norway, Berlin, Vienna and Barcelona.
My blog has opened up many opportunities for me to express my passions and network with like-minded people. It blends well with all the skills I enjoy; creative writing, photography and content/digital marketing. After four years creating content has inspired me to tell more stories to inspire African women to pursue their dreams tirelessly.
- I am currently reading this book ‘Eleanor Elephant is completely fine’ which takes us on a journey of a lonely woman. As, a solo-femme traveller, do you ever feel lonely on the trips you take by yourself? If yes, How do you overcome the loneliness?
I’d love to read it! Lonely, hmm no. I have a small circle of friends and family that love me. It would be nice to travel with a partner and share these experiences together! Instagram feeds lately that show countless travel couples don’t help… #couplegoals
BUT I must say, all the times I’ve gone alone, to fully experience a place and its people were more worthwhile. It is more important to me prove to African women that they can live life boldly with or without a husband or boyfriend to hold them down. It is EXTREMELY important to me.
Thing is, trips on my own have ended up being lessons. Space for me to think and reflect. I grew up scared of the unknown. Not sure whether I could survive on my own in a completely different environment. I underestimated my strength and travelling alone has balanced this out and proved me stronger and capable of so much more.
On overcoming loneliness; because I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their lives I have made many new friends. Going somewhere new even at home is a chance to understand how others live.
- I guess people want to know, how do you take such great pictures of yourself when you go for solo trips? What’s the secret?
Thank you so much! First I get inspiration from other travelers’ feeds and Pinterest. It also helps that I research the places I will be visiting beforehand and think of some new interesting ways to capture them. I often meet kind strangers and waiters at the places I visit. My trip to fort portal at the beginning of the year was on my own and I had to trust that the people I met would help take a cool picture or two of me…
For some trips, I’ve gone with my photographer friends (I can share their details for anyone that needs a recommendation) who are equally passionate about travel.
- What place have you been to that left such a mark on your heart that you long for and wish everyone could visit in their lifetime?
As a nature lover in my countries Uganda and Rwanda I have several recommendations;
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Fort portal (explore the craters)
- Lake Bunyonyi
- Do you have a bucket list? If, yes…what’s on it?
Yes I do and it keeps changing. Lately I’ve been day- dreaming about;
- Cape Town
- What impact has traveling had on your life?
Travel brought meaning back into my life. I have grown more than I could have imagined. I have learnt about my country, its beauty and ugly-sides. I’ve learned to embrace it all and gotten deeper appreciation for our cultures.
- How can a blooming travel blogger thrive in this era of influencers and bloggers?
Be authentic and offering services that benefit your readers. For me this has meant creating itineraries for everyone that DM’s me on Instagram and Facebook.
- What’s your mantra?
Live life boldly!
- Three life lessons you want to leave us with.
1 We all have a purpose in life and finding it is one of the most fulfilling things. “Remind yourself. Nobody built like you. You design yourself” Jay Z
2 Find the lesson in every situation in life. “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same” Rudyard Kipling
3 Keep learning!
More on Karen
Instagram – @chocolaty_prints