Jeanie Fundora – Travel Consultant
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean
South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Seychelles, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Italy, Germany, France, England, Holland, Spain, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba
- Pan-African safaris (ie combining both East and Southern Africa)
- Families traveling on safari with children & intergenerational safaris
- Cultural safaris
- Foodie safaris
- Luxury trains in Africa
- Cape Town and the Cape Winelands
- Indian Ocean Islands and beaches
My Past Jobs and Experience
University of South Florida – International Studies Major; Studied French in high school and Italian in college; Summer study abroad program in Perugia, Italy which got me officially hooked on travel; formerly the Africa Product manager at Cox & Kings USA from 2000 to 2010; Specialized in Northern India and the Himalayas including Nepal and Bhutan my first year in the travel industry
Awards: Travel + Leisure Magazine A-List (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), Kenya Tourism Board Master KATS (Kenya Authorized Travel Specialist)
My Favorite Trips I’ve Designed
I don’t have one favorite trip that I can pinpoint as my absolute favorite since I’ve customized so many incredible safaris in the last 13 years. It’s really hard picking just one especially since I do many safaris that combine East and Southern Africa, which for people who have the time and budget is the way to go as both regions are so vastly different! However, there is a really awesome family safari I’ve put together for a family of four this fall that stand out as a favorite and includes:
- 4 nights in Rwanda including two nights at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge for gorilla trekking
- 2 nights at The Saxon in Johannesburg
- Toka Leya in Zambia upstream from Victoria Falls and on the banks of the Zambezi River for 2 nights
- 9 nights in Botswana at Zarafa camp in the Selinda Reserve, Vumbura Plains in the Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp in the Moremi Reserve, Jack’s Camp in the Kalahari Desert
- 3 nights at Singita Lebombo in Kruger National Park in South Africa
- 4 nights at Cape Grace on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
- 4 nights on North Island in the Seychelles
Things I Enjoy Most About Consulting
There are so many facets of planning travel that I enjoy.
- Being part of what begins as a dream, a trip-of-a-lifetime safari to Africa, and making that dream a reality for my clients.
- Dreaming up multi-generational family trips with something for everyone is incredibly rewarding.
- Working with repeat clients, who thought that they would only visit Africa once, only to find themselves “hooked” on Africa and going back for more.
- Having past clients refer their family, friends and colleagues to me, which is the biggest compliment to my work.
- The amazing relationships I have developed over the years with both clients and local staff throughout Africa and worldwide make me feel more connected to people all over the globe.
My Most Memorable Travel Moment
I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to have visited some of the most breathtaking sites and natural wonders of the world, from the Taj Mahal to Victoria Falls. From each of those trips I have always come back a slightly changed person, having taken away something and also feeling that I left a part of me behind in each place. I refer to travel as my second education and I have spent a third of my life in the travel industry. Travel has taught me, molded me, changed me, opened my eyes, opened my mind and developed my palate. Travel has further developed my passion for photography, wildlife and cultures. It is Africa that has truly gotten under my skin and has become a part of my life. Without doubt, this is because Africa is the place I have visited most and explored extensively in 15 trips to the region over the last decade.
Yet my most memorable travel moment involved a short 30-minute flight from Miami. In 2004, I visited Cuba with my grandparents and father, who had not returned in 40 years. Our three-generation trip was a lifetime in the making and orchestrating the emotional family reunion was a life-changing experience. Seeing my grandmother reunite with and embrace her three surviving brothers (from a family of eleven siblings) after their separation of four decades, made me feel for that split second that all was right with the world.
My Most Embarrassing Travel Moment
Involved a three-hour flight from Windhoek, Namibia to Maun, Botswana in a 6-seater, single engine Cessna 206 aircraft. These little workhorses of Africa, the Cessna C206, are fantastic planes that can land just about anywhere. However, they lack bathroom facilities. Also, the pilot will not land simply due to a passenger needing to use the restroom. Repeatedly asking, “are we there yet” and staring at the GPS watching it countdown does not do much good either. One empty water bottle, a magazine as funnel and one very red-faced passenger exiting the plane… enough said. Thankfully there were only a few of us on the aircraft allowing for some privacy for my mid-flight engineering. It was my first time to Africa and I was making sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Lesson learned: Always use the facilities before any light aircraft flights even if you think you don’t need to!
Hidden Talents Outside of Work
- Speaking just enough Swahili to get by and understand quite a bit, which really surprises people when I travel in East Africa.
- Can sing Nkosi Sikele, the South African national anthem in Xhosa and Zulu, minus the clicks!
- My newfound love for cooking. I really enjoy cooking Indian and also Cape Malay cuisine especially.
- Photography is one of my passions and I most enjoy photographing children, wildlife and other animals as well as older folk, whose faces seem to tell a lifetime of stories
- Thinking in both Spanish and English simultaneously. Spanish is my first language and I am fluent in Spanglish, which is what I speak with a lot of my family.
- Music is another passion of mine. I used to sing with a Cuban band and still sit in with some local bands from time to time.