Ramona Cilliers - Welcome to my profile!
I will never forget my first trip in an aeroplane. I was seven years old and we were embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Our family was immigrating from a small village in Germany to the wilderness of Africa. I was, falsely so, under the impression that we would have a lion as a pet and ride elephants to school!
The thrill of untold adventures and a Jungle Book-style life that lay awaiting us on the African shores was almost too much for my young mind. I developed an incredible sense of adventure and urge to explore and experience everything - this was most certainly a turning point in my life and, yes, the adventures did unfold (and still do) although I never did get the Jungle Book experience nor have I had a lion as a pet!
From this early time, my dream had been to become an air hostess and travel the world but instead I became a travel agent, which is exciting and rewarding!
Where have I travelled
My latest travel adventure saw me set off to Namibia, where we opted to do things a little less traditionally. We embarked on a self-drive adventure from Windhoek to Kasane, exploring the enigmatic Caprivi Strip with its remote parks, straight-as-an-arrow roads and undiscovered delights such as Tsodilo Hills (across the border in Botswana), Ghaub Caves, Haub meteorite site, and the elusive Giant Baobab. Tsumeb was a delight with its little museum and small-town charm. A 4x4 is essential to make the most of your adventure and travel unrestricted by sandy tracks. Much to the horror of my husband I did try my luck and steer him into parks not suited for SUVs… He made quick work of U-turns in narrow, bush-lined dirt tracks before he caught onto my mischievous ways.
I get to live my dream every day and feed my adventurous spirit by creating the most amazing and unforgettable itineraries for my clients. Every so often I also get to experience these amazing places and have over the years covered almost every corner of my ‘backyard’ – South Africa.
I have bungee-jumped off the Gouritz River bridge on the Garden Route, micro-lighted over the kwaZulu-Natal coastline, walked in the tracks of lions in the Kruger National Park, whispered to elephants at Hartebeespoort, dived with great white sharks on the Whale Route, hiked the rugged terrain of Table Mountain, and observed southern right whales cruising the Atlantic waters from a helicopter.
Further abroad I have sipped cocktails while watching the African sun set over the ocean in Mauritius, searched for elusive lemurs in Madagascan rainforests and sailed the seas in a traditional pirogue.
My adventures have continued with visits to remote corners of Malawi, marvelling at the rolling plains of Nyika National Park, kayaking on Lake Malawi and enjoying the country’s most popular mode of transport - the humble bicycle - through scenic bush terrain.
In 2014 I spend three mind-blowing weeks exploring incredible landscapes of East Africa – Kenya’s Samburu, Chyulu Hills, Amboseli and Masai Mara were ticked off my list of places to visit. In Uganda I had the privilege of spending time with the Batwa tribes as well as trekking mountain gorillas. Zanzibar showcased its cultural heritage in Stone Town and we even managed to get in some R&R on its beautiful white beaches.
Botswana and the impressive Victoria Falls are still two of my firm favourites with different experiences during the seasons. Whether it be the dry winter season or humid green season, there are special places enjoy, from the flood-filled Okavango Delta to the dry Kalahari Desert and Chobe’s teeming riverfront.
Some of my other travels have also taken me back to Europe to explore countries like England, Holland, Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic; my heart, however, now lives in Africa where I have further adventures planned to some of my old favourites but also to exciting new destinations.
My favourite travel moment
My most special experiences in Africa are without a doubt from my many safaris across South Africa; nothing compares to how humbled you feel on this extraordinary activity. So many of my inspiring travel memories find their root in a game drive, unexpected bush dinner or interpretive nature walk.
The amazing people that dedicate their lives to offering unforgettable wilderness experiences, the skill and knowledge of the rangers and trackers, hospitality of hosts and support staff, and the obliging nature of the wildlife are all part of a sure-fire recipe for a truly once-in-a -lifetime experience - and that is what I strive to achieve for each of my clients.
My best African travel advice
Pack your sense of adventure and try everything at least once; push your boundaries – it’s how the best memories are made!
What I love about Africa
Even after so much travel, Mother Africa never ceases to amaze: watching a pack of wild dogs on the hunt, a leopard mother and cub in playful banter, ellies taking a shower in the river or buffalo taking a wallow in the mud - no two sightings are ever the same.
My best African travel advice
My advice to any traveller to Africa would be to expect the unexpected and enjoy every single moment, squeeze every drop of glory out of everything you can. Take pictures, lots of pictures! You can never capture the essence of the moment in a photograph but they sure do help you to relive and recount them. Never go on safari without binoculars and a birding book – even if you are not a keen birder!