“There were lonely, lonely times. I didn’t have much money, so I slept on the streets, I camped under the bridges and I lived like a hobo for months! And in-between I’d hike. I’d hike alone and it was a very lonely existence.”
That’s only the second time I have heard his voice in two years of having known him. As I hear him speak on the 03:23 frame on my smartphone in the TED Talk video, I can’t help but recount my first (virtual) encounter with him, one of the most charming men I’ve ever come across, who is lucky to consider many of the people he has met on his travels as friends.
I couldn’t help but play the Skype call recording of my interview with him, a man who left his advertising job in 1999, to get away from the corporate world. I remember him telling me how he left South Africa because he had lost hopes for it – he left to get away from people. He moved to Alaska for the so-called escape. He told me how the wild is never far away in Alaska and it was during this escape that he began mountaineering and hiking in a truer sense. “I was descending a narrow pass after a five-day hike, tired, lonely, hungry. I walked around a spur of rock and there was a huge grizzly bear and her cub – a very dangerous combination.” He warns not to bother or mess with a grizzly bear when she is with her cubs.
Amidst all of these overwhelmingly beautiful experiences, he encountered, he discovered something incredible: “I felt something, a distinct feeling of connection, with the earth, with every person and everything on it – including that bear.” It is this very epiphany is what intrigued me the most. I remember the very first time I stumbled upon his website and having reached out to him immediately. I remember how eagerly I awaited a response from him. I had already been so inspired by what he was doing in Africa and I was so keen on getting an opportunity to get to know his story better. Guess what? My wish came true!
A writer, a photographer, a photojournalist and now a well-known CEO of Safarious (a website for the people who are curious about journeying into the wild), Anton Crone’s profile couldn’t get more impressive. But what I really love about him is his take on slow travel. The fact that he is at such ease. His sense of understanding of the lifestyle choice he has made. “I have made peace with the fact that one cannot see the whole world in one lifetime. So I wanna make the most of where I am now. I want to explore Africa as much as I can.” It is not like he doesn’t travel outside Africa at all. His choice to not want to explore the world moves me. This is only because a choice like that makes complete sense and is beyond the luxurious desires of traveling across the globe.
I haven’t come across many who explore the horizons of an unexpected epiphany. Anton is one of the rare ones I have had the chance to connect with. His genuine enthusiasm for Africa, its wilderness and conservation makes him an apt fit of the definitions of a perfect traveller. He is the traveller and hardy biker, who takes everything in his stride with a brilliant sense of humour and adventure.
His passion to make a difference in the world is unbelievable. He puts his heart and soul into his endeavours and surpasses any personal goal he sets for himself. Watching him do what he really loves and watching him make a difference in the lives of others is an incredible experience. The way his voice fills with joy when he finally speaks of what he has accomplished is breathtaking and I hope that one day I can have just as much passion he has.