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An adventure in life and love

The couple on Luzon Island in the Philippines, where they met.
The two “stingy nomads”, Campbell Louw and Alya Akhmetghareeva, with their dog Chile. Photo: RICK MARAIS
The itinerant couple cycled from Holland to Belgium. Photo: Supplied
Louw and Akhmetghareeva shortly after arriving at Everest Base Camp. Photo: Supplied
Campbell and Alya diving at Roatán Island. Photo: Supplied
Uyuni Salt Desert in Bolivia where the couple took time to try out new photography techniques. Photo: Supplied

Africa, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central America, North America and South America, and 30 countries later their love still blossoms.

Campbell Louw and Alya Akhmetghareeva have visited 30 countries together over the last three and a half years, before getting married in January this year.

Louw is from Rawsonville, Worcester, and he met his wife, who is from Russia, in the Philippines while travelling across the country by motorcycle.

“I had a love for diving and she loved hiking and trekking,” he says. “I had to learn how to hike and she had to learn diving, and now we combine both in our trips across the world.”

Travelling doesn’t need to be expensive, as the two explain that they plan a budget ahead of each trip and they stick to it.

“One of our favourite countries to travel was Chile,” added Louw. “We packed a tent and a small gas stove and we toured the entire country sleeping next to the road in our tent on the way to the next destination.

“South Africans are scared to travel, to go outside their comfort zones and I felt the same way before I started travelling across the world. A South African passport isn’t as good as an American one, but we never had any issues with our passport or obtaining a Visa. Just chat to the locals and they will assist you with almost anything.”

Akhmetghareeva says the reasons she loves to travel are to meet new people, taste interesting food and see stunning locations one can normally only dream of.

“We are not the normal tourists,” she explains. “We follow routes normal tourists wouldn’t. A while ago we hiked to Everest Base Camp by ourselves without a guide and we saved lots of money by just following the route and thinking for ourselves.”

The couple mentions if you want to start travelling the world, South-East Asia is a good place to start for beginners. “If your budget is tight, then Asia is the place to go,” says Louw. “Just pack your bags and don’t be scared to go and explore. You also don’t need a visa to go and explore this beautiful area.”

He explains that there are more than 98 countries one can explore without a visa.

“People tend to believe things they hear and we tend not to believe those things when it comes to travelling,” says Akhmetghareeva. “One was that Venezuela is a dangerous country and we shouldn’t visit it. We packed our bags and went to Venezuela and had a blast. It is also a very cheap country to tour across and we spent US$5 (about R70) a day, including meals, transport and accommodation.”

Vietnam was described by the couple as something quite unique. “There are bikes and scooters everywhere,” says Louw. “People and their entire families ride on one scooter, that is six people on one scooter. We saw a dude with a scooter which was carrying a number of chicken boxes filled with live chickens. It’s chaotic. If your bike breaks, someone will show up from nowhere with a bag full of tools and they will fix it. My bike’s headlight gave me problems and a guy showed up and fixed it with a bubblegum wrapper. Yes, a bubblegum wrapper!”

While travelling the couple also update their blog stingynomads.com with tips and photos of their travels across the world.

The two have also made many friends on their travels and they explain that it isn’t strange to bump into old faces on different continents.

“If you are a foodie and looking for the next food adventure then Spain and India are two of the countries that one needs to visit,” says Louw. “India’s street food is something you have to get used to, but it’s extremely cheap and the food is yummy, and the same goes for Spanish food.”

The pair undertake trips that last for months and their number one tip is to work locally and then take the rest of the day exploring.

“One such example is teaching English in Thailand,” Akhmetghareeva says, “where you get a reasonable salary and can explore the country and submerge yourself in the culture.”

The couple plans to travel to Russia later this year and to also tour South Africa.

“This is such a beautiful country, and I want to see more of it with Campbell,” Akhmetghareeva says.

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