Hanli is an 11 times South African Freediving Record Holder who has taught freediving to over 500 students. She is the founder of the I AM WATER Foundation, which focuses on ocean conservation through human experience. Hanli is also a film-maker, avid ocean adventurer and certified yoga instructor. The freediving instructors she leads have taught freediving around the world, alongside working with top athletes, celebrities, and individuals with aquatic phobias. She is leading a freediving trip to Mozambique with Steppes this May and in January 2017. We asked Hanli to share her thoughts on what motivates her to do what she does, who inspired her, which place she is happiest, her best travel advice and more…
What was your earliest or childhood ambition?
Apart from being a mermaid I dreamt of working as a journalist, big game keeper or actor. It was pretty diverse dreaming in retrospect, but I seem to be doing a little bit of all three in my everyday adult life.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I’m deeply passionate about transformation. I really believe that even though humans are the biggest problem we are also the only solution. It seems as if most people see themselves as separate from the natural environment and this state of affairs has terrifying consequences. I am motivated by the change I see in kids and adults who get to have extraordinary nature experiences, when a child opens her eyes underwater for the first time and feels that connection with body breath and planet I know I can keep going.
Who has inspired you to do what you do?
My father was a horse breeder and worked with the ethos of horse whispering and animal interaction long before these became books or films, and growing up on a wild farm in South Africa with but one rule ‘come home before the sun sets’ I think my parents and my childhood inspired many of the beliefs and values I hold. When it comes to outside the family, I have been inspired by individuals such as Dr Ian Player and Dr Silvia Earle, but also the writings of sufi poet Hafiz regarding how we live and breathe as human animals.
If your 20-year old self could see you know, what would he/she think?
I think she’d be pretty excited that I’m living in Cape Town and not freezing Sweden where I studied! But all in all I don’t think she’d be that surprised, the trajectory was set very early on for me and my dreams.
If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?
In all honesty no, not really. I feel like where I am today and where I am headed is thanks to the sum of all the mistakes I made and things I tried. And also, what value is there in regret?
In what place are you happiest?
The ocean! Be it surfing, freediving in chilly kelp forests, playing with dolphins in blue water or just swimming around, salty skin makes me happy!
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
I do. I try to. Apart from the amount of traveling I do, I live a pretty low impact lifestyle. My carbon footprint and my heart aching want of a dog are the two things I will stop traveling for one day.
The one essential you travel with?
Good quality re-usable water bottle. I despise disposable plastic bottles and I love water!
Your best piece of travel advice?
If you struggle to keep an exercise regime going when you travel, bring a lightweight yoga mat with you and some podcast yoga classes. Whether you’re in a teeny hotel room, big open resort or in transit at an airport, rolling out a yoga mat and finding time to breathe and move really brings you back to yourself.
What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Your dreams are always worth amputating the ego for. Ask for help, be humble and work hard. Don’t think you have to do it all on your own or prove yourself, others have experience and most likely want to help you – assuming your dream is for greater good, I’d do anything I can to assist!
Get in touch to learn more about our freediving holidays with Hanli Prinsloo. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01285 601 753.