Meet the people behind Botswana. For all of us, it's home - whether by default or by choice. We know Botswana because we've built its camps, travelled it for fun and made it our job.
We all have quirks and distinct personalities and our differences make us great collaborators. Where one of us likes our eggs sunny-side up, another makes the convincing argument for taking them scrambled - there are no rights and wrongs with personal preferences and we take the same approach to safaris. We create your safari as a team - sprinkling a bit of our personalities into the mix and borrowing each other's insight to meet your needs.
Erica prefers to run, not walk, to paddle, not be poled. The more action the better!
Erica did the usual ‘gap year' that lasted a little longer, working her way across North America, Europe and Southern Africa before she ended up in Botswana. Having children hasn't stopped the adventure, she often packs them up (along with her safari guide husband) for some bush-bashing and camping.
Like all mothers, Kagiso is an expert juggler - not just of her four children, but also her many hats.
Kagiso studied as a journalist and worked in South African film production before Botswana beckoned her back. She's worked in as many safari jobs as we've got fingers and toes, putting her love of Botswana hand in hand with her knowledge of the bush.
Originally from Germany, our wide-eyed bush baby brings safari home with her.
She'll turn a quick trip down the road into a game drive (it makes things more exciting!) and lights the fireplace so often that her husband jokes he should remove it. Nadine is happiest bush camping (less facilities, more marshmallows please!) and haggles hard enough to put any born and bred African to shame.
Whether it's overt or understated, Lisa loves a bit of luxury; she learnt the art of travel while sniffing out the best camp kitchens and mapping the bush's most extensive wine cellars (hello Selinda and Jao!)
Lisa is a local in the whole of Southern Africa, she grew up in Zimbabwe, lived in Durban, worked in Namibia and settled in Botswana where she indulges her love of wildlife and photography.
Although born and bred in Africa, Jo refuses to bow to African time; she talks straight and shoots from the hip.
This is one girl you want in your corner when travel in Africa throws a spanner in the works. Jo's happiest exploring the delta in a boat loaded with camping gear. She's often found parked in the reeds as her croc-wrangling husband dives for reptiles under the papyrus.
Gaba has infectious laughter which usually kicks in when she's trying something new, from boarding Namibia's sand dunes to surfing in Cape Town's Atlantic Ocean.
She forgets her limitations when she's busy with something different - it was only half-way through a snorkelling trip in Mauritius, distracted by the fish when she finally remembered she couldn't swim (she quickly learnt how!).
Anouk brought with her a fresh outlook and tons of knowledge 'beyond' Botswana. She hails from Belgium, moved to South Africa in her teens and, discovering that the 'Rainbow Nation' had a lot to offer, she made it her home.
Anouk worked in the travel and safari industry in South Africa before joining us at Safari Specialists and we hail her as our South African specialist, having worked with and visited many of the Kruger-area lodges in addition to working for Wilderness Safaris, which has camps all over Southern Africa. Anouk has spent a whirlwind couple of years with us broadening her safari horizons even further and is our super-star at putting together multi-country itineraries. She got pretty used to the luxurious style of the South African camps and doesn't mind a manicure... so we think Lisa's ‘Safari Diva’ title is up for a challenge!
We found our treasure Tsholofelo, fresh from the University of Botswana with an inquisitive mind and full of energy. Tsholo quickly learnt the administrative ropes at Safari Specialists and now tells us how to do it!
She’s heading out to the bush as often as possible (as we are lost without her in the office) and quickly learning about all things safari - from incredible wildlife encounters, to those paper bags behind the seat on the bumpy flights! We are so happy to have found her and the only way is up for this dynamo. Don't be fooled by her quiet exterior, our little pocket rocket can giggle her way out of trouble and solve complicated issues in a calm and collected manner.
TT left his bachelor herd to join the ladies at Safari Specialists; this required tusks of steel and a thick skin but he survived his initiation and we haven't looked back.
TT joined Tsholofelo in the admin team and quickly became another invaluable and respected team member. He is Maun born and bred, went to the big city ‘Gabz’ (Gaborone) for university and then dabbled in the IT industry before returning to Maun. He has an innate understanding of the bush and nature, having grown up here, and quickly become our go-to guy for those niggling IT challenges.
They say cats can’t be herded but Theresa has done the job well. While she wields a big stick, she delivers the guidance with much humour and an even bigger heart.
Coming over from South Africa, she dived straight into the frontline working at camps in the Okavango Delta. She then gravitated to a slightly less wild environment, moving to Maun to start a family. Our GM has a tough job taking care of that boring stuff (like accounts) and all those nitty-gritty details that keep a business running. Her varied talents include a very green thumb and Theresa has created a little haven at our Maun office, bringing greenery and life to our sandy dustbowl. With all this on her shoulders, thank goodness we fall under her wing.
Expanding our team further, Chiyapo came with his own set of horns, to back up TT as the dude in the office. He is Theresa’s right hand (and sometimes her left).
His expertise may sit in accounts but he is quick to lend a hand to any facet of the business, getting involved in our community projects, setting up office systems, looking after the property and dealing with security. The best part is that he loves accounts! All those little beans lining up in a row are his idea of happiness (well, that and an ice-cold St Louis beer surrounded by friends and family!)
Bronwyn’s long-running travel business gave wings to Maun residents for years and her expertise in competitive fares and creating routing ideas is incomparable.
She has been immersed in the safari lifestyle in Maun for ages as her parents managed bush camps in Botswana – giving her regular access to places most people only dream of visiting. Her travelling does not stop at safari but extends to many destinations all over the world, giving her an insight and appreciation of different cultures and people. She has a menagerie of pets ranging from small (think Jack Russell) to large (Great Dane-sized!) and brought Squeaky The Office Cat along with her when joining the Safari Specialists’ team.
Olerato, or Ollie, is as likely to greet you with ‘Bonjour!’ as she is with ‘Dumela’.
She’s not only fluent in French and takes care of all our French-speaking clients but she’s also passionate about other cultures and regularly enlightens us by translating her emails and reports into other languages (she’s a much faster learner than we are!). She’s also a génie (genuis) at keeping track of all the comings and goings at Maun International Airport so that you’re never stuck there without a Safari Specialists’ team member at your side.
Always ready with a huge smile and game for anything, Mynah rivals Botswana’s sunshine for complete radiance.
She beavers away behind the scenes with all those unseen but crucial parts of your safari – preparing quotes, chatting to our safari partners about everything from water levels to organizing surprise celebrations, doing those all-important travel documents and meeting our clients at the good, old Maun Airport. And she manages all this with an unflappable and positive attitude bar none!
Angela is one of those lucky people who gets paid to sit on Facebook and Instagram all day – the dream job for a millennial except she’s decidedly not!
Her safari career has taken her all over South Africa’s secret gems like Addo and Phinda, whale watching off the coast of northern Mozambique, site inspections in pouring rain across Kenya and walking in Zambia. But Botswana has her heart and soul at the moment, and she never gets tired of the fantastic images that come out of this incredibly diverse wildlife haven.
©2020 Safari Specialists
A Black Duck Production. Developed by Dessol