Award-winning Carmel Valley travel writer to share tips on writing safari


After visiting some 150 countries and territories over the past 26 years and having his work appear in such varied publications as Conde Nast Traveler, USA Today and National Geographic, Joe Yogerst is ready to pass along some of the knowledge he has accumulated about his craft.

Yogerst, a local resident and award-winning freelance writer, will lead a travel writing safari to South Africa in May.

Through a series of workshops and real-time writing assignments, Yogerst said he intends for participants to come away with the skills needed to write travel articles or blogs, along with photos, suitable to be published online or in a newspaper or magazine.

The trip is being organized by Goway Travel, a Toronto-based travel agency with offices in Los Angeles, Sydney and Vancouver.

The 11-day trip is scheduled for May 9-19, and will include stops in Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope, the Garden Route and the Kariega Game Reserve. The fee of $2,420 per person includes accommodation, meals, transportation in South Africa, excursions and guides. For details, visit Goway’s website at:

Yogerst said he has given guest lectures for travel writing classes at San Diego State and UC San Diego, as well as for journalism students at Canyon Crest Academy. This is the first time he will conduct his own course, he said, and he has prepared a full curriculum for his students.

While he said a number of his photographer colleagues have led photo safaris to various destinations, trips focused on writing are much less common.

During the upcoming South Africa trip, Yogerst said he will conduct morning workshops on such topics as interviewing, blogging, taking photos and marketing and publishing articles. He will brainstorm with students on story ideas, and assign them 500-word stories to complete. He will then review the pieces and provide feedback. At the end of the trip, he will assign a longer story that students can complete at home and send to him for review and suggestions. The trip will be limited to no more than 15 participants, he said.

Yogerst’s lessons will stem from his own extensive experience as a writer and editor, mostly in the travel genre. For example, he seeks to turn an interview into a two-way conversation between himself and his subject, and cited a recent interview with actor Michael Keaton, who starred in the critically-praised film, “Birdman.”

Yogerst, aware that Keaton’s next role will be as a Boston newspaper editor who leads an investigation into abuse by Catholic clergy, asked about the actor’s upbringing in Pennsylvania, where he attended Catholic school. “My goal is to find out something I haven’t read about before,” he said.

He advised aspiring travel writers to look for the quirky, unusual stories that haven’t been written about, and one way to find them, he said, is to spend some time wandering aimlessly around a place, or sitting quietly in a park or town square, watching daily life unfold.

“In between sightseeing, take a load off, sit at a café or park, and get a feel for how the place operates,” he said.

Recently, Yogerst went to Uganda on assignment for CNN Travel. Following a tip that the hijacked airliner from the infamous 1976 raid on Entebbe was abandoned on the shore of Lake Victoria (the tip turned out to be untrue), Yogerst instead discovered a lively beach club scene at the lake. “It’s a cool thing no one knows about,” he said.

Yogerst said he would be interested in exploring other venues for travel writing trips, perhaps through National Geographic or on cruise ships.

“If this trip works, it’s something I would like to talk to other people about,” he said.