Intrepid traveller set for African adventure at age of 87
The pages of her passport are clean and fresh, its cover shiny and new.
At 87-years-old Doreen Hester is excited about her upcoming trip overseas.
But far from sticking to some of the more well-trodden tourist paths, Hester is heading to Ethiopia.
The intrepid traveller is looking forward to ticking off one more far-flung destination from her bucket-list.
* Mt Etna, Ethiopia: Journey to one of the hottest places on Earth
* Hyenas spark admiration, not fear, in Ethiopia’s Harar city
* Rock of Ages: Ethiopia’s ancient stone churches
She will join a small group of sightseers heading to Africa with Havelock-based travel company Great Guided Escapes.
Having travelled with the group to Oman, United Arab Emirates and Jordan last year, the plucky pensioner says she is looking forward to reuniting with friends she made.
Company co-owner Maurice Brown has organised every detail of the 15-day $7995 journey which will see six of last year’s tour get together again.
“I like going with someone like Maurice and in a smaller group as it’s like travelling with family.
“We all became friends through the tours and were such a united group. This is one of the benefits of being with a smaller group as we all got to know each other.
“It’s indicative of being a good leader that we all knitted together so well but I think Maurice is extremely good to take on an 87-year-old,” says Hester.
With a population of more than 102 million people, Ethiopia boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Spanning a massive 1.104 million km², the country combines a kaleidoscope of cultures and history. It is the culture which makes the company such an alluring choice says Hester, whose daughter, Debbie, will join her on the epic journey.
A 13th century church, national parks, tribal villages, boat trips, jungles and mountain visits are all included on the itinerary.
“I’ve always had a hankering to go there. The red soil, the sunrises, the sunsets and the people.
“Travel is a conduit for people to grow and appreciate other cultures; I can’t wait,” says Hester.
Maurice and wife Carolyn, both keen travellers themselves, began the company in a bid to share their expertise and love of adventure with others.
Every country they arrange a tour to has been visited by the couple first.
“We were enthralled with it [Ethiopia] and knew we wanted to take a group back to this stunning country.
“People pay not an inconsiderate amount and we really hope we can make the outlay worthwhile,” says Brown.
The husband and wife team are no stangers to dealing with the unexpected.
On holiday in Samoa in 2009, the pair were lucky to escape with their lives after being swept away by a tsunami when a massive earthquake hit 120 miles off the coast of the island.
Dozens were killed.
“It certainly effected both is us for a long time afterwards. It made us aware of we we are staying and if we stay near the sea, I’m always conscious of the terrain.
“I do get nervous when we go on these trips. It’s a big responsibility and while we do everything we can some of it is in the lap of the gods.
“We’re on duty 24 hrs a day seven days a week but that’s what it takes to ensure people have a wonderful time.”
– The Marlborough Express