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Intrepid Journeys


Jenny Shipley: Namibia

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Photogallery: Jenny's trip to Namibia

Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley has travelled the world but never in an intrepid fashion. Having retired from politics to live a quieter life, Jenny let her heart rather than her head decide whether to take up the travel challenge. "I did ask myself, 'What on earth am I doing allowing cameras back into my world?'"

Since leaving political life, Jenny has made her physical fitness a priority. Hiking up dune 45 in the Nambib desert would have tested any gym goer.

"It reminds you that people are insignificant and that landscape and beyond really have their own story," Jenny said. "You feel small but special being there."  

Jenny says the sweat at the gym paid off. "There have been times in my history when I couldn't have done this. It was my Everest."

As a keen photographer, Namibia offered many once-in a-life-time snapping opportunities. Trying to capture her favourite animal in the wild was a challenge. 

"I had a day long truck journey into the wild part of Namibia, the Etosha National Park. At 20% the size of the North Island, Etosha is big, but not too big for me to find the herd of elephants I'd been longing to photograph."

Braving rough roads to the Angola border allowed Jenny to meet the women of the Himba tribe, who struggle to maintain their culture as modern life influences their children. Jenny's contact with small villages helped put the cultural and circumstantial differences between New Zealand and Africa in perspective. 

"It makes you realise that many people on this earth live intense daily lives and the reality of simply surviving is what preoccupies them."

Jenny admits the rough roads, long days and incessant dust sapped her spirit - but not for long. The chance to immerse herself in authentic African life was such a rich experience that there was little that could detract from it. 

There was another bonus too: "I was able to drop the title and the history of who I am and be an ordinary person with dust in my hair and stones in my shoes and enjoy every aspect of it as just Jenny. I liked that very much."

Jenny's adventure screens on Tuesday at 9.30pm on TV ONE.

Click here for the Namibia factsheet