Safari destinations off the beaten path
I was born and raised in South Africa, along the Garden Route, and I have lived in various parts of the country including the Western and Eastern Cape and the Free State. I’ve also travelled extensively within South Africa. In 1998 I immigrated to the US, calling Chicago home for 18 years. I always had an overwhelming yearning for Africa; I could feel the continent pumping through my veins and knew I had to return to plant my feet on African soil. In 2016 I made the move – I now call Port Elizabeth home. Outside of the US and South Africa, I have traveled to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Rwanda, Uganda, Peru, Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Canada, Belize, England, Scotland, Holland, Greece and Turkey. I have many more destinations on my list; the Earth is immense with so much to see, and there is so little time to experience it all!
Education and Career History
Fifteen years of professional experience that includes sales, marketing, business development, print media design, employee training, communications and creative writing. I have a background in Art, I obtained an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, Advertising Design and Illustration – High honors in 2001 and BFA in Visual Communications – Honors, from the ILIA in 2003. I am also a qualified pre-school teacher and worked with children of all ages for many years. I switched careers in 2007 when I started in the travel industry with Eyes on Africa as a Destination Specialist focusing on adventure travel, custom itineraries and group safaris. I started with Travel Beyond in 2012 where I still focus on Africa as a safari destination but have also broadened my horizons to include travel to South America – a part of the world I find fascinating!
Professional Awards / Accomplishments
- Certified as a South African Tourist Guide
- I am an artist and a photographer. You can view a gallery of my paintings on my personal website.
- Paintings featured in Charmers, Rogers Park June – October 2010
- Paintings featured in Pick-‘n-cup Cafe, Evanston July – Sep 2008
- Work featured in the Sunnyside newspaper in Chicago 2004 -2006
- Illustrations featured in The Record, Detroit Music July 2006
- Outstanding Achievements award The College of Du Page 1999 -2001
- Work Featured in the Prairie Light Review 2000
- Murals displayed in the Sky Blue Cafe in Kei West Florida 2000
Why I’m a Travel Consultant
I really enjoy the effect Africa has on clients that travel there for the first time. It is an awakening of sorts – a defining moment for many people. Africa moves your soul in a way no other place does. You can capture the essence of Africa on film but nothing quite says how impactful it is, until you see it bring tears to a person’s eyes when they recollect the memory of Africa. Each trip is different, unique and tailored specifically to that client’s needs – when I share the goose bumps & that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when listening to feedback after a trip, I know my job was done well – this is why I love being a Travel Consultant.
Most Memorable Travel Experience
There are so many, although swimming in the Okavango Delta springs to the forefront, it was by far the most liberating experience of my life.
In addition, the ruins in Belize were breathtaking. I really enjoyed the scenic beauty, castles, rolling hills and Kyloe, the Highland cattle of Scotland. The awe-inspiring funeral procession in Turkey and the wonderful architecture in Greece that took my breath away. The Moai statues on Rapa Nui and the mysticism that surrounds the island, Machu Pichhu and the rich Inka culture and history – there are so many special places on earth… but I have to admit that the Okavango Delta remains my favorite travel destination, Africa is in my blood – the vastness of the Delta, the wildlife and the people all lend something unique to this ever changing environment. Kenya would be a close second – the Samburu tribe and the relationship they have with the land, with their live-stock and with wildlife most certainly offers a very unique insight into the simpler ways of co-existing. I learn something new about myself every single time I visit, but most importantly I have a greater understanding of how each and every single one of us, human, animal and plant are interconnected – how we all need to strive to make this planet a better place – for the love of life!
Recommended Right Now
Botswana practices low volume tourism and will always remain a favorite, a very special place! You can however visit Zambia for a much more affordable price point during peak season (Zambia is arguably the most seasonal safari destination) and the country offers a similar experience in terms of wildlife. Zambia remains the most authentic safari destination I have visited, and walking is king in Zambia, so if you are active and want an intimate safari experience, wander where not many go!
Kenya and Tanzania offer a unique combination of culture and wildlife; the Samburu tribe in Kenya and the Hadza people from Tanzania offer a very unique cultural experience. Zanzibar is a great Indian ocean option for both snorkeling and diving. Mnemba Island is the perfect stop at the end of a safari. You can either connect from Kenya and Tanzania on Coastal Aviation daily or Mango Airlines now offers a direct flight from South Africa to Zanzibar on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This connection allows travelers in Southern Africa to combine a beach and bush experience with ease.
South Africa is home for me and I would always recommend a visit; if offers a well round experience in terms of game viewing, history, scenic beautify and wonderful beach destinations. Zimbabwe is an undiscovered country that offers so much in terms of wildlife and by far offers the best vantage points of Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world.
Rapa Nui combined with Peru offers an off the beaten path experience, wonderful foodie options, hiking, culture and mysticism – what more could one want from a vacation?
Mashatu in the Northern Tuli block of Botswana
This gem remains one of my personal favorite picks and offers both a Tented camp and a Main lodge based on personal preference. Game viewing is unparalleled and they have various activities on offer; game drives, walking options, mountain biking, cultural safaris, photography hides and horseback riding. The guides and camp staff are wonderful and for the younger travelers they have a very interesting room of discovery at Main Camp filled with all sorts of educational displays, a museum of sorts.
Sirikoi in Kenya
If you prefer the smaller intimate tented experience, Sirikoi is amazing! You can also take sole use of Sirikoi Cottage or Sirikoi House, both are fantastic options for families and completely private. Some of the best vegan food to date with a vegetable garden that gives new meaning to the concept “farm to table”! The camp works on solar power and although tented, offers a fireplace in each tent which is pre-light to warm your room at night, ensuite bathrooms with a free-standing bath built for tall people like myself – a bath with a view…delightfully stylish in the bush!
Gibbs Farm in Tanzania
Here I found paradise! My family are farmers so this type of experience really appeals to me, a place where you can wake up and milk a cow, bake the bread for breakfast, roast your own coffee, harvest your vegetables for lunch and dinner, feed swine & bush babies, do full day excursions from the lodge or just enjoy what activities you can do right there at the lodge – another great “farm to table” working farm experience. The views are breathtaking and while perfect for families – I would visit here again and again as a single traveler. I LOVE THIS PLACE!
Grootbos Nature Reserve in South Africa
(For families traveling with Children) Grootbos Nature Reserve is located about 2 hours outside of Cape Town in a fynbos paradise. From the minute we arrived staff took charge of entertaining my toddler… as any mother of a toddler would admit, this may be the best thing since sliced cheese, being able to get through a meal on your own! From collecting eggs in the morning, meeting the ponies, playing with bunnies, being entertained in the amazing playroom, to private dinners set under fairy lit Milkwood trees, this place does not disappoint. The last time I was fortunate enough to visit, I travelled alone and was blown away – expecting something completely different with a toddler, I was pleasantly surprised by being just as blown away but for different reasons. If you enjoy hiking, beach visits, marine mammals, community outreach and have an interest in Shark cage diving, whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or with children, this place is not to be missed!
Changa River Camp Zimbabwe
Changa River Camp is located on the shores of Lake Kariba in the Matusadona National Park. The lodge is situated within a private concession with 4.5km of pristine lake shore which provides stunning views of the mysterious Matusadona Mountains across the island waters of Lake Kariba. Activities here include game drives, walking and fishing safaris. Healthy populations of elephant, buffalo and antelope frequent the shoreline. Hippos and crocodiles (large crocs) are in abundance in the cool waters and birdlife is prolific with 350 species having been identified in the area. This is also the place where “Operation Noah” took place, a remarkable story of wildlife rescue lasting from 1958 – 1964 in Zimbabwe. The rescue operation was in response to rising waters drowning wildlife, caused by the creation of Lake Kariba, a man made dam – a remarkable piece of wildlife history captured in this very special place.
Charity Spotlight: Love Story
As many of you know, I am a mother – I am touched by this experience every day! In going through the process, I have become an avid supporter of breastfeeding and its many valuable nutritional benefits, which is why I was moved to do something after discovering the shortcoming in my own home town.
Dora Nginza Hospital is located in Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The hospital is currently lacking in adequate facilities for care of premature babies and their mothers. Upon visiting the hospital while doing a donation drop off (clothes etc. for premature babies), it was observed that due to a lack of available funding, the hospital does not have any hospital grade breast pumps available for mothers with premature infants, forcing them to express by hand to feed their babies. Purchasing a breast pump for personal use is very costly and very few mothers in South Africa can afford this luxury. This puts tremendous strain on mothers of premature infants, prohibiting them from getting enough rest and creating additional hardship on both mother and baby. It’s heartbreaking that mothers have to express by hand to get their premature infants the nutrients they so desperately need, especially when breast pumps in the US can be covered by insurance, are much more readily available and at a fraction of the cost.
I have been working hand in hand with the non-profit organization, LOVE STORY and have started a very grass roots program where we collected breast pumps for new mothers. Here is a short LOVE STORY video documenting more of the efforts – feel free to contact me with any questions.