A virtually uninhabited ice-covered landmass may not be an ideal destination choice for a two-time visit, but Marielena’s travel tales are no less than extraordinary. Having set foot on six continents by the age of 25, Marielena's trip to the 'spectacular' South Pole led to the inception of a new and exciting career!
You have roamed extensively around the globe across all seven continents! How has this journey been so far?
Travel to all 7 continents has been amazing. Spending time with whales, whale sharks and penguins has been inspiring.
Emperor penguins in Antarctica. PC- Marielena
Before setting out on this journey, did you resolve to set foot on all seven continents?
The travel bug bit me early. After reaching 6 continents by age 25, I vowed to someday visit all 7. I’ve now been fortunate to visit Antarctica twice. Truly the expeditions of a lifetime. The landscapes and wildlife in Antarctica are spectacular!
Six continents by age 25! It truly is mind-blowing. Do you remember your first trip? What triggered this epic expedition?
I took my first international trip at 6 months since both parents worked for the airlines, so I don’t remember. The trip that changed it all for me was studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. I met travelers on gap year and decided to do a Round The World trip!
You started traveling before Epic7Travel was born. How did you manage to travel so extensively and have a job, at the same time?
Yep, I visited 60 + countries before Epic7Travel was born. Although I worked 60-70 hours a week most of my career, I always negotiated for 3-4 weeks off each year typically and visited 2-3 countries each year. Travel was ALWAYS my top priority and passion.
Excellent. Out of the 65 countries, you've visited, where have you spent most of your time and what was the most epic destination?
Most epic has been Antarctica. And most time overall has been Indonesia. I’ve been there six times and will likely return in 2020 and 2021. With 17,000 islands there is lots to explore above and beneath the water!
If you keep moving at this rate, you will have seen every corner of the world soon! Why did you choose visual storytelling as a medium to document your travel stories?
After being inspired by the conservationists and photographers aboard, I decided to pivot and chase a dream with conservation, travel photography and travel writing as the focus. Visual storytelling evokes emotions and inspires change.
Do the penguins let you cuddle them? I'd definitely want to if I ever get a chance to meet them!
Nope-this is not permitted. You always keep a respectable distance from penguins. If you are sitting, they will come in close to check you out and might pull on your backpack or pants legs, but you never touch them. A funny incident happened where an Adelie Interloper caused a ruckus amongst the penguin chicks. It was the only Adelie in a colony of thousands of Emperors. Despite the size difference, it didn’t hesitate to chase the Emperor penguin chicks and make them faceplant. Absolutely hilarious to witness. Then, it would turn with an expression of “who me?”
The trip to Antarctica was as a turning point of your career and life. Looking back on it, can you recall that exact moment during the trip when you made your mind up to chase your true calling?
A number of people on the trip commented that they found my photography inspiring & asked which outlet I worked for & where they could see my work. I told them this was just for fun. Two weeks after returning, I decided to resign & chase a dream. Best decision ever!
Marielena is a globetrotter who has never looked back after her first Round The World trip which she...
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