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My Travelling Life

Siv Ngesi: Spend your cash on unforgettable experiences, not things

When it comes to travelling, actor-comedian Siv Ngesi is all about meeting locals, getting lost and not having a plan.

13 August 2019 - 10:47 By elizabeth sleith
Siv Ngesi at the Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia.
Siv Ngesi at the Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia.
Image: Siv Ngesi

I travel weekly for work, but I wish I travelled more. I always make sure I have one big three-week travel adventure every year and that I extend my work trips to see a few destinations on the work’s dime.

When I was a child, we always took trips to the Eastern Cape to see family during the holidays ... In those days, flying wasn’t cheap, so we drove for hours. I can still taste the food my mother used to pack and I can still remember the laughter and conversation in the car.

I first went abroad when I was six years old. I went to London to see my mother, who was studying there. I can remember flying and hoping I would see God above the clouds, but he was nowhere to be seen. My trust issues started there! But I saw snow for the first time - it was cold and I thought pap was falling from the sky!

I saw snow for the first time, it was cold and I thought pap was falling from the sky
Siv Ngesi

I don’t ever find destinations difficult ... I travel to learn and to be challenged by the culture shock.

New York owns my soul, but Cuba is my number one travel destination - there’s nothing like it, it’s another world. Cuba is what travelling is all about. When I landed there, I felt like I was in another time in history ... I dream about it often and hopefully I can return soon and salsa the days away!

When it comes to choosing luxury or roughing it, I’ve done both - and roughing it always wins. There’s just something about it - if you've never roughed it, you’ve never truly travelled. I’m all about getting “off the beaten track”, meeting locals, getting lost, not having a plan, putting on a backpack and exploring the unknown.

I am not a big fan of hotels, I believe in a backpack and no plans/books. I love taking risks and meeting strangers along the way. Backpackers are my favourite places to meet people.

I don’t have an all-time favourite trip. Every time I travel is the best experience I've ever had. I also have no worst trip. Every experience of traveling is worth doing. Then again, the worst part of travelling is the layovers and the long flights. Still, to run you must first crawl! So I remind myself that my destination is at the end of the journey.

Siv Ngesi hangs with some locals in Nepal.
Siv Ngesi hangs with some locals in Nepal.
Image: Siv Ngesi

My strangest travel experience was watching a person be cremated in Nepal, next to a tributary of the Ganges River. It sounds weird, but it was one of the most incredible things ever. 

The other one was while I was traveling with Kingsley Holgate around Kenya. The warriors made me drink blood from the neck of a goat. It hadn’t rained in a long time in the area and they were losing livestock. As I started drinking the warm blood, the heavens opened and it rained for hours - after that they treated me like I’d brought the rains!

My best piece of travel advice is not to waste money on possessions. Spend it on experiences; travel to find yourself.

Also, keep you passport safe, always try to travel with more than one bank card and keep them separate, notify your bank that you’re travelling and research the area you’re going to. Always take risks.

It’s hard to choose one place I want to see ... I want to see everywhere, at least I want to die trying. But if I had to pick, I would say Bora Bora, Morocco or Croatia.