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Helen

Operations Executive

Raised in Namibia, Helen previously worked within the tourism sector with world-renowned companies such as Wilderness Safaris. She has lived between America, the Canary Islands, and now London, where she lives and works with her husband for YZ.

A snapshot

Helen was an assistant lodge manager at Ongava Lodge for Wilderness Safaris, and a guest house manager at Galton House in Windhoek for Ultimate Safaris. During her time in the tourism industry in Namibia, she learned a lot about the important work that goes on behind the scenes to make a truly great safari.

Helen's biography

Helen was born in a small town called Grootfontein, which means ‘big fountain’ in Afrikaans. Located close to hot springs, it has the world’s largest underground lake too – Dragon’s Breath Cave! Helen grew up on a farm in the north. She has always been very adventurous – she loves being in nature and the bush is like her second home. She has travelled to the Rockies and to Canada, and also throughout Europe, but her favourite place in the world is obviously Namibia. Helen adores the raw, rugged beauty of the country and her Southern African neighbours, and she has been lucky to have visited South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Angola.

Most memorable experience

My husband and I were staying at Namushasha River Lodge, which is situated in the north-east of Namibia by the Kwando River, bordering Botswana. One morning we took a river cruise with the local guide, who showed us how to make waterlily necklaces and hats. Traditionally the necklaces are for the ladies and the hats are for the men. In the afternoon we went out with the manager of the lodge for a sunset cruise. We found a massive herd of elephants that was standing close to the riverbank. The manager turned the boat engine off, and we started drifting towards the bank. The elephants moved towards us and eyed us suspiciously, but of course, there was one mischievous bull elephant lurking around the bush. As we drifted even closer, the bull elephant started approaching us; and because we were sitting fairly low in the boat, we were on the same level as the riverbank and staring straight at the bull’s feet. The boat drifted closer, the bull came closer, and by this time I could have reached out and tickled his feet (if I’d really wanted to). The bull started to move closer still, and by this time he was right on the edge of the bank trying to get into the river! It felt like he wanted to join us in the boat – he kept on moving his front leg, as if trying to say, ‘Hey you, come here!’ My courage finally broke and I almost ended up on the manager’s lap, which he didn’t like very much. He started the engine and he took us back to the lodge, leaving the mischievous bull to come to the realisation that he couldn’t join the cruise!