I had the privilege of growing up in the sub-tropical, South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Tucked away in northern KZN, we were a drive away from both the Swazi and Mozambican borders and surrounded by a variety of small game reserves. We spent every other weekend going for self-drives and having picnics in the bush together as a family for as long as I can remember. And although my background does set the scene for a career devoted to affording others similar unforgettable experiences in the African bush, that’s not exactly how it all started out.
My focus was on education and after completing both of my degrees at Stellenbosch University, I spent three beautiful years as a nursery school teacher. Throughout this special time, I spent every school holiday I could, travelling in and around Southern Africa and eventually gave in to the inevitable. Pursuing a career as an Africa Safari Expert has been a dream come true for me and I’ve found my background in teaching to be incredibly helpful so far. Having a strong sense of what it means to plan meticulously and able to understand the needs and wishes of my clients are a few of the important skills I can thank teaching for. I pride myself on these personal strengths in my role as a dedicated consultant today.
I’ve since relocated to Cape Town where I currently reside with my husband (who is as big a nature and African bush lover as I am!). We call ourselves camping enthusiasts and together we travel and camp all over southern Africa on a regular basis. Our favourite places to go camping include the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana.
My Recent Travels
Besides my travels in and around South Africa, I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to two different African countries in the past few months!
I welcomed the New Year in on a beach in Mozambique under a star-filled sky awash with scattered fireworks and a freshly made caipirinha in hand. I was privileged enough to have experienced two weeks in an exclusive Mozambican villa built on stilts and situated in a canopy of trees that overlooked our private beach. The experience was nothing short of extraordinary.
Three months later I found myself camping with friends in the middle of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. Anybody whose ever spent a night of their life at the mercy of Africa’s natural elements - completely out in the open and under the stars - knows how enthralling it is! We travelled in April and despite a few scattered rain showers, we were blessed with moderate weather conditions and incredible wildlife sightings that included lion, cheetah, elephant and massive herds of oryx. The memory of sundowners at sunset overlooking golden savannah grassland plains lined with the silhouettes of antelope grazing and a giant red sun sinking in the distance – that’s what keeps me going back to Botswana every opportunity I get.
Most recently I made my way to both Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Private Game Reserve (that shares a border with Botswana). Having never been to either of these smaller game reserves before I was pleasantly surprised to see how unique and diverse they are. Pilanesberg offered unforgettable encounters with both rhino and elephant herds. Consistent sightings of lion and cheetah, literally a few feet away from our game viewing vehicle, have me absolutely convinced that a trip to Madikwe should be mandatory if you’re ever in the area. Madikwe’s selection of highly private, luxury bush lodges also had me wildly impressed.
Where I have Travelled
I’ve managed to experience the following African safari highlights in:
- Botswana – Big 5 wildlife sightings throughout Moremi and into the heart of the Okavango Delta, followed by some time spent in the dry Savuti and secluded, lush Linyanti areas of the Chobe National Park. Our trip concluded with an unforgettable sunset cruise on the Chobe river adrift amongst hippo, buffalo and a family of swimming elephants making a crossing.
- Zimbabwe – seeing the Victoria Falls and white-river rafting down the mighty Zambezi river.
- Mozambique – an unforgettable ocean safari experience, scuba-diving the coral reefs at Ponta Do Oura and Ponto Malongane.
- Swaziland – visiting a cultural village and seeing both black and white rhino in Hlane Game Reserve.
- Malawi – back-packing and being reliant on various modes of public transport for three weeks made this the most challenging trip I’ve done but by far the most rewarding African travel experience I’ve ever had. Daily dips in Lake Malawi made it all worth the effort!
- South Africa – regular visits to the local reserves I grew up going to, Ithala Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and iSimangaliso wetland park. Getting engaged in the Kruger National Park was also a very special highlight for me!
My Favourite Travel Moment
Lying awake in my ground tent listening to an elephant munch on the branches hanging from the tree above us! The closest wildlife encounter I’ve ever experienced and undoubtedly my favorite memory of Moremi in Botswana. The feeling of beholding the ‘Smoke That Thunders’ for the first time at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe also always remains a top contender on my list of favourite travel moments.
My Best African Travel Advice
Don’t ever put your tent under a tree! Jokes aside, you’d be surprised by what a sense of humor, a warm smile and a few basic African phrases will do for yourself while travelling in Africa! My best African travel advice: a friendly smile always goes a long way in Africa and if you can do the effort to at least greet and say ‘thank you’ to someone in their own African home language, you’re set for success. Sikufisela inhlanhla futhi ujabulele!
What I Love about Africa
It’s honesty. Immersing yourself in Africa’s raw elements and natural surroundings is such a sensual and genuine experience to have with yourself. It confronts you with a strong understanding of where you stand in the circle of life and nurtures a sense of respect for where your place may be in that moment. Africa isn’t a single destination for me, it’s a feeling. An honest, raw and real feeling to be found wherever you travel in and around this beautifully diverse continent. Whether you’re absorbing the feeling of being in the presence of her wildlife or caught up in an enlightening conversation with a local – you’ll feel that honesty. And that’s what I love about it.
Where I’d Love to Go Next
I can’t wait to go on my honeymoon in the Seychelles! Thereafter I look forward to planning my annual camping trip to Botswana. I also plan to make the following two bucket-list trips a reality within the next couple of years: seeing the Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara and going gorilla trekking in Rwanda.