Co-Pilot Spotlight: Aleksandra Ørbeck-Nilssen

Posted on September 24, 2017 by Cora Boyd

The Co-Pilot Spotlight navigates into the minds and experiences of travel professionals and professional travelers. Join us with Aleksandra Ørbeck-Nilssen, documentary presenter, actress, yoga instructor, and CEO and Founder of Nanofasa Conservation Trust in Namibia.

OTPYM: Where was the first place you ever traveled?

Aleksandra: Normandie, France

Where is the last place you visited?


Where is next for you? Why?

Paris, LA, London, NYC, Munich and Namibia. I’m traveling for a month now to raise awareness around the importance of learning from our ancestors and saving our home. And also to fundraise for my project with the SAN people in Namibia.

Why do you choose to travel?

I like to think about the world as a house we live in, where every country is just another room in that house. Every room has a purpose, and every person that lives in each room needs something from another room to survive. We all have something to learn from each other. But the only way we will find out is by traveling

How has travel helped to define your world view?

Traveling and meeting different nature, cultures and wildlife has help me understand that culture and nature are the colours of our world, colours of diversity that teach us about how much we still have to discover, learn and take responsibility for. It has made me come an active participant on Earth.

Where is the favorite place you’ve traveled and why?

My favorite place is the Namib desert in Namibia. The desert is for me a representation of freedom, life, endlessness, creativity, opportunity and space, but also a place of loneliness, struggle, limitation, death and imprisonment. So it’s a destinations that widens my horizon and challenges me at the same time. I love that. And then having worked with the Ju/´hoansi Bushmen for 7 years in the land of giants, I must say that the Nyae Nyae area in the North of Namibia is one of the most wonderful places in the world.

When on your travels have you felt the most out of your comfort zone?

I walked 1490 km on foot across Namibia with two Ju/´hoansi San people in April this year. We traveled without money and had to live off what we could find, or what was gifted to us. It ‘s was one of the wildest experiences in my life to walk in the ancient footsteps of the SAN

Who is the most interesting person you have ever met while traveling and why?

I have met many interesting people in my life of traveling from a treasure hunter to a tandem surfer, but the person that changed my life and later became my bushman mother. She gave me a name and told me that I am everything that I see. She thought me that if we all share we all have enough and that if we can heal ourselves we can heal the earth.

What is the most adventurous food you have tried while on the road?

Fire roasted tortoise and porcupine

What’s the next trend in travel?

In our world there are very few places where we can experience silence and stillness. Our senses are over stimulated with noise and constant input. Overload of information both audibly and visually is stretching our nervous system and we are no longer capable of connecting to ourselves.

So think the next trend in travel is to travel deeper, which means to reconnect to either nature, silence, roots and ancestors. People are tired of just being spectators of the world, we want to experience, matter, contribute and learn.

We want an upgrade in life, in conservation or how we perceive the world.

I believe it’s people from all walks of lives that will go on these holidays, and for many different reasons – some simply for the locations, but most because they want to try new things, learn from people who lead their lives differently, get creative, or even seeking personal transformation and inspiration. But it boils down to a personal experience in natural surroundings that happen to contribute and give back to nature, people, wildlife or culture.

Any funny anecdotes from the road?

It was a late afternoon. My 4×4 car was way over passenger capacity, a five-seater car had turned in to a bush bus for 25 Ju/´hoansi people. We had just attended a meeting, and transport is hard to come by in the bush so my car was the only option. We had driven for 4 hours through the bushes, when suddenly the old head man pricks on the shoulder and tells me that he wants to talk to me. I knew that I still had to drive another few hours to get back to where I needed to stay after dropping the majority of the people off, so I asked him why we couldn’t talk in the car. He insisted that we should stop. It looked like it was something important, so I stopped the car hesitantly and we got out and sat down on the ground. Suddenly one guy notices a snake, and a long tale about the snake followed. I watch the sun go down feeling more and more stressed about the sun going down and all the elephants I would have to drive pass during the dark night to get back to camp. The old man starts a long monologue, it was almost like he was telling a story of our day. I listened impatiently, but then suddenly I see him reaching for something in his bow and arrow bag. He pulls out a 10 Namibian Dollar note and asks me if I can buy him a tooth brush.

I said off course and asked him if that was what he wanted to talk to me about. He answered yes. That was the day I learned about the small things and that there is significance in all things.