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Finding yourself in the unknown

11th October 2014


Unlike the founders of Project Cordillera, I’ve always been a city boy. I never had that instinctive connection with the outdoors that they grew up with. Over the last decade I’ve begun to realise that whilst I might feel most at home in cities and towns – where I’m surrounded by my friends, community and things to do – you learn far more about yourself in remote places and in challenging conditions. I’ve begun to use my travels and time outdoors as self-medication – a way to manage the ups and downs of life.


In the last year, I’ve been hiking in Peru, northeastern US and South Africa. Each country was unique in its own right and challenged me in different ways. Whilst the beauty and tranquility of each region was breathtaking, what I really appreciated was the unique perspective spending time in places like these can bring you. The sense of adventure and excitement you get from challenging yourself in stunning environments can make the rigmarole of day-to-day life seem far away. Perhaps, more importantly, it provides a break and distance you need to make better choices. Motivating yourself to get up for work is one thing. Finding the energy to cook after a ten hour hike (and carrying a ten kg rucksack!) teaches you other things. For one, I’ve learnt that I’m often not as hungry as I think I am!


The great thing about challenging yourself in the outdoors is that it is achievable. In mundane life achievement seems to be deliberately kept beyond our grasp… moving out from your parents leads to renting which leads to buying a house which leads to paying off a mortgage, etc. Capitalism has always been about the next thing. Sometimes it’s just good to stand back and take in the moment. Nowhere offers this opportunity like the mountains.

By Jon Govender, Friday 10 October 2014

Photographs by Sam Williams

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