Exploring Madagascar and Tanzania with Natalia Horinkova
We can’t get over Natalia Horinkova’s photography. Her stunning sense of color and warmth makes us immediately connect with people going about their everyday life — fishing, fetching water or peering through steel gates — from Madagascar to Zanzibar to Kenya. Always travelling around the continent, we were lucky to catch up with Nata in between flights from Kenya to Uganda and she spoke to us about the people, snorkelling in Tanikely and why Africa holds a special place in her heart.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Natalia, but most people call me Nata. I was born and raised in Slovakia and have been travelling by my self since I was eighteen years old. I picked up photography while living in Dubai. I moved to Australia in 2009, where I’ve started to work as a fashion photographer, but about 2 years ago I left the industry to start travelling again a bit more.
Now, I live out of the suitcase with my camera and I absolutely love it.
We see you visited Madagascar and Tanzania, How did you prepare/plan for your trip?
For Madagascar, I remember packing the same day I was leaving and I forgot to pack underwear ☺ So probably not very well prepared. To be very honest, for both trips I researched the areas I was going to. I read few books on things to visit and to do, but most importantly about the culture, customs and I wrote down few phrases in the local language, which you can imagine is a bit confusing because of the different dialects.
What drew you to those countries and what regions did you visit?
I must be very honest with you. I have never thought I will be visiting Africa last year. Africa picked me. I applied for volunteer work in Costa Rica (because I wanted to be close to the beach). The organisation asked me to go Tanzania instead and I didn’t hesitate a minute.
After 3 months there, I knew that I had to go back. I remember standing in front of a big map of Africa and looking where I could go next. I knew I wanted to go somewhere close to the ocean. My eyes landed on Mozambique and Madagascar and Madagascar offer came up first, so I took it without any hesitations.
In Tanzania, I started in Zanzibar, made my way to Morogoro through Dar A Salaam, up to Singida and all the way down to Mbeya region. I was lucky enough to be their volunteer photographer so I’ve visited all of the programs in the country.
Madagascar was a bit more specific, as I went to visit only the far North – Nosy Be Island. From where I got to sail through the Northen islands like Iranja, Russsian Bay, Nosy Komba, Nosy Ankazaberavina, Tanikely, Lemur Island and I think couple more.
What was the experience like?
Both countries gave me a lot, in work but also in personal growth. I fall in love with Africa and people of Africa.
People always ask me, what is it about Africa that I love so much, why I want to go back. My answer is ‘people’. People of Africa are generous and always helpful. I must admit that, I have never really stayed long enough in bigger cities and only really interacted with people from small villages.
Other reason is of course the wildlife. Even after 3 months of driving through Morogoro National Park, I was amazed each day by all of the zebras and giraffes we got to see.
And Madagascar? Lemurs, chameleons, sea turtles … Every day was different.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced whilst travelling?
There is always something we have to face, even in our ‘day to day life’. The difference is, how we approach it. I am particularly bad with paper work, so I try to organise and write down ‘to do’ list before traveling.
What was your most memorable moment photographing these countries?
In Tanzania, I was in small village called In Mbeya region. I was walking from my homestay, towards the school, through the banana plantations. As I passed one house, I got shouted at: “Uganile dada, picture, picture.” As I turned around, there were these two ladies, standing in front of their house, standing proud and waiting on their photo to be taken. I think it’s still one of my favourite images from there.
In Madagascar, it was the time I first snorkelled in Tanikely. This island is protected area and therefore fishing is not allowed. The amount of fish we saw, everywhere! I felt like in a Disney movie.
What’s one life lesson you learnt whilst travelling around Madagascar and Tanzania?
Helping others. I know, it might sound silly to someone. I was brought up in a capital city, where everyone is ‘minding their own business’. Not only visiting these programs, where us as volunteers are actually helping others, but seeing it on the streets of the villages, or on the sea, roads. Your car breaks down in middle of nowhere, you can be sure, someone will come to help you. Everyone is brother and sister in Africa and so it should be like that everywhere.
What tips can you share for future travellers interested in visiting Tanzania, Madagascar or even Africa as a whole?
A smile goes a long way, anywhere in Africa and anywhere in the world.
What’s next for you?
Take a guess ☺ Africa of course, starting in Tanzania and then Madagascar, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana and South Africa. Have to go, catching a flight soon. ☺
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