Saturday 22 February 2014

Comments are Welcome!

If you would like to comment on any of the blogs I have posted - you need to click on the title of the blog - this brings up a section where you are able to comment.  I am trying to find a way to make it simpler, but, for now - that is how it is!

Until next time
Read More »

Friday 21 February 2014

Searching for the Migration

At the very top of my bucket list was to see the animal migration in the Serengeti or the Masai Mara.  I was very excited to visit Kenya and the experience was a phenomenal one.

Because of the seasonal nature of the migration there is no guarantee that your travel plans will coincide perfectly with the spectacle.  At the time I think I was the victim of too many hours watching the BBC Wildlife channel.  I absolutely expected to encounter a gigantic herd of Wildebeest hurtling across the endless plains, with lions to the left, hyenas to the right and the occasional crocodile thrown into the mix. Instead, we met up with the leading herds - wildebeest and zebra, grazing as they mooched rather than thundered across the grassy plains.  We did see them crossing a stream that was more like a puddle than the mighty Masai river - and they made a real production out of it - bucking and leaping and snorting, for no apparent reason.

We had driven most of the day, with a packed lunch, in order to find the herds.  Afterwards, driving back to the camp, with animals dotting the plains as far as the eye could see, was a surreal and amazing experience - but - instead of  the animals providing the spectacle, it was something (at that time) a lot less expected - it was the magnitude of the sky that was the stand-out factor.  We were a speck on the universe and the canopy of blue above stretched forever.  It was the first time I understood the concept of a Big Sky.  I was glad to have seen the migration, but it was far from the only reason to visit this incredible destination and I look forward, ever so much, to my next visit!

Until next time

Read More »

Monday 17 February 2014

But is it safe?

This has to be the most frequently asked question, when talking about visiting Africa. 

A client who had booked a massive Africa safari, travelling with his young family, asked me this question, almost as an after-thought, as the departure date drew closer.  I think he started to feel nervous and was looking for reassurance.

This is what I told him:

It is a sensible question - and the issues that make people nervous about travelling to South Africa are very complex.  I would like to start by reassuring you that in the 15 years I have been in the travel industry, we have hosted thousands and thousands of passengers.  In all that time, and with all those people I can count on one hand the number of people who have been victims of petty theft and, at worst, a mugging.

The legacy of apartheid is that there is a lot of poverty in South Africa - and a big population of semi-skilled and somewhat illiterate people.  It means that crime is an issue - and, in South Africa security is an expensive business.  The value of your house is determined by where it is (is the area safe - if yes, it is worth a LOT more than in a less secure area), and also by the security features it boasts.  South Africans are naturally vigilant - when you get in your car you lock your door without giving it a second thought!  All the houses have fences, burglar bars and electric fences.

When we started up our Inbound business we decided that we wanted to be in charge of where our passengers travelled right from the moment they arrive into the country, up until they leave.  It is the reason why we have such a huge Client Service and vehicle infra-structure.  Wherever you travel with us, our own people will be transporting you (in the Transport division of our business - Hylton Ross) - into the Region and within Southern Africa. 

The main reason is this - you don't want to get lost in Africa.  (if you did, chances are excellent that you would find the locals helpful, charming and very kind - but you don't want to run the risk of bumping into a bad element).  Travelling on the traditional tourist routes, you will be completely safe. 

You will find the South Africans very friendly - and, if for some reason you bump into anyone, looking a bit indifferent, or grumpy, give them a big smile and say How are You - and you will get an absolutely beaming smile in reply!

It is an idiosyncrasy of our African people - they say How are You before they introduce themselves -  and it is considered rather infra-dig if you ask them a question or for service before you greet them - so, the trick is to say, Hello, how are you?  Wait for the response, and then say, we would like to check in or whatever.

You will have a fantastic time in Africa - and you will be completely safe.

Until Next time
Read More »

Saturday 15 February 2014

Safari or a Refrigerator?

"Don't forget", I used to say to my team, back in the day, "if we mess up we can always refund the money, but we can't refund the time".

It is the reason why we strive so hard to make sure that every detail and piece of planning is done with meticulous care and attention.

Buying a holiday can be a major financial decision that, nowadays, also has to be considered in the context of the grotty global economic climate and the inevitable list of boring necessities that seem to get more expensive and onerous as time goes by!

On returning home from safari - what do you have to show for the money spent? 

Well, I think that a holiday is more than an intangible moment of fun - I think it is mind-broadening, relaxing, exciting, and can certainly be life changing.  In the busy-ness of life we often lose sight of who we are and what our dreams and aspirations are.  It is all we can do to make it through the challenges that face us in our day to day lives.  But, we leave all that behind us when we set off on our holiday adventure - and return with incredible memories of new sights and sounds and experiences that rejuvenate us, mentally and physically, and provide a store of hope and joy that we draw on once we return to the routine of our ordinary lives!

So - perhaps you make do with your too-old refrigerator/car/washing machine or wife, for another year, but it is my view that the sacrifice is more than worth it.

Yes - a holiday may be the delivery of a dream - but the wonder of it is real and lasting

Until next time

Read More »

Thursday 13 February 2014

An Introduction - More to follow

For about 14 years I worked as the General Manager for a leading Tour Operator in South Africa.  I was lucky enough to join this incredible industry just before our first ever free and fair democratic elections.  Travel to South Africa was minimal and the infrastructure and expertise was pretty thin on the ground!

After the elections we were inundated with enquiries and people wanting to visit and see for themselves the remarkable success of a vote for change.  It was a really special time to be in Inbound Travel in South Africa.  Our business prospered and grew to a multi-million Rand success story.

14 years later, with lots of personal stress in my life, I decided to improve the work/life balance of my journey - or, technical term - opt out!  But, I soon discovered that having all the leisure time in the world is all very well - but, not that much fun without a commitment, an interest and cash!

So now - I have the best job in the world!  I am a Tour Operator and my business is to sell holidays within Southern Africa to individuals, usually well travelled, looking to book their holiday with an African based service provider. 

I have travelled all over Southern Africa and have personally experienced the wonderful lodges, hotels and spectacularly beautiful wilderness and city areas that comprise this fabulous destination.  I offer my clients my personal perspective, input and advice.  It is rewarding and satisfying to fulfil people's dreams and I get to do it on a regular basis!

Hopefully my blog will be interesting and useful - I look forward to seeing how it unfolds. 

Until next time

Read More »