Outside on the dirty street kids kicked a footy, inside we mended holes in the mosquito net- that was a long time ago, 17 years back. We had just arrived in Nairobi, Kenya with a backpack, the Lonely Planet and wild ideas of owning a safari company. I was from a farm in Western Australia and Steve from a UK city. As fate would have it we met while teaching in Kuwait. It was Steve that seeded the idea of trying something different and with no other commitments what was there to lose? Steve had taught in Tanzania. So armed with knowledge of the country, inspired by the abundance of wildlife and the magic of iconic names like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Mt Kilimanjaro, we took a leap of faith and boarded a plane to East Africa to start our own company.
Our families were understandably horrified, though mine were quietly confident I would soon return. The question “is it safe?” was never far from their anxious lips. To be fair, with the exception of Australia’s sporting links with South Africa, I was completely naïve about the affairs of African countries – so in truth I didn’t know the answer to that question.
We landed in hot, bustling Nairobi and several crowded bus rides later we found a cheap little guest house in a lively down town street. It offered eggs, toast and spiced tea for breakfast, a good start. Armed with the Lonely Planet we set out to visit every safari company in the city. The plan was to work for a Kenyan company, preferably managing a camp, get to know the industry and then set up our own company in Tanzania. At this point my idea of camping was a small leaky tent, a swag, billy tea and cooking over an open fire. It was a far stretch from the reality of today’s luxury safari.
With no experience, no Swahili and, as it turned out, no work permit we were continually overlooked. Perseverance paid off; eventually a struggling company plucked us from the street and offered us a job managing a lodge in the Maasai Mara.
Crammed into a minivan along with the lodge’s supplies, the road to the Mara wound its way through a landscape dotted with mud hut villages. Young boys with dogs tended goats and zebra grazed alongside Maasai cattle. The images of that ride remain a poignant memory to the start of a life far from the chalk face.
We embraced the change and navigated the challenges. Two years later, in Tanzania, we opened our safari company “The Infinite Horizon”. A far cry from tiny tents, swags and billy tea; our luxury safaris continue to provide unforgettable experiences to clients of all ages.
Now is a great time to begin planning your dream safari contact firstname.lastname@example.org