Meet Sofia, a Kenya expert - we’re very pleased to welcome her to the YZ herd! Sofia pretty much grew up on safari; co-hosting groups and exploring the country with her family. Her experience on the ground, of the camps, seasons and wildlife, is second to none.
Born and raised in Kenya, Sofia has a love for wildlife that stems from a childhood spent taking clients all over Kenya’s great wildernesses: from the distant Tana Delta right through to the family camp in the Mara. Relief management and co-hosting roles at Sarara and El Karama furthered her love for the Laikipia area and the wonderful wildlife it has to offer.
Recent travel experience
On a recent educational, Sofia travelled to Uganda: "Uganda was breathtaking. It is potentially one of the most underrated safari destinations I know of. From the thick, green banks of the Nile, paradise for birders, to the herds of Murchison Falls National Park, the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth, and, of course, the magnificent mountain gorillas. It's hard to describe trekking with gorillas, actually, I think it might be impossible, one has to do it for oneself. Ending the trip at Wild Waters in Jinja was a delightfully decadent finale!"
Most memorable experience
“One of the hardest questions to answer! I have been lucky in that so much of my childhood and life are littered with amazing experiences: from lions in camp, to cheetah kills, giraffes giving birth, being charged on horseback, helicopter trips up mountains and even a crocodile taking a flaming log off the campfire while we were sipping gin and tonics in Shaba (it ran back into the river with flames pouring out of its jaws - the most dragon-like sighting ever!).
“If I were to choose just one, however, it would be watching an elephant cow give birth to the smallest and sweetest calf on Lolldaiga Ranch in Laikipia. We sat with her for about four hours and each moment was more remarkable than the last. The tenderness with which she dealt with the calf once it finally emerged, the different ways in which she tried to destroy the afterbirth to put off greedy predators (even eating some and trying to throw the rest up a tree). Elephants never cease to amaze me; from their elegance, to the varying gentleness and playfulness of their mannerisms...I don’t think I’ll ever forget this moment.”
Born into a safari family, Sofia grew up exploring Kenya from Landcruiser and horseback. Her parents instilled a love of wildlife in her from a young age, having themselves spent some thirty years hosting groups in East Africa and beyond.
Sofia has hosted riding safaris in Laikipia with her partner and co-hosted photographic trips with her parents and siblings from a young age (taking her first solo game drive at sixteen!). She has worked at the prestigious Sarara and El Karama, two of her favourite lodges. Her particular love for elephants also led to a job at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and Space for Giants - two remarkable Kenya-based NGOs that focus on elephant conservation and human-wildlife relations.
From the age of six to thirteen Fia was at boarding school in the rift valley in Kenya. A semi-feral school experience included morning rides through the bush! School trips were always the height of adventure...from white-water rafting, climbing Mt Kenya and camel safaris in the arid north to name but a few.
Secondary school in the Dublin mountains followed, swapping the savannah for the Irish wilderness. Sofia went on to read history at Trinity College Dublin, where she studied the history of Africa, environmentalism, and finally focused on the relationship between indigenous peoples and wildlife in East Africa prior to the colonial settlement of the country. While at university she also co-founded the Trinity Conservation Group and acted as conservation officer for the Trinity Zoological Society, organising events to raise funds and awareness for conservation NGOs.
Fia is now settled in the UK and has joined the Yellow Zebra team to share her huge knowledge and love of Kenya.
"Yellow Zebra are genuine specialists; they know the African bush like the back of their hand."
Brian Jackman, safari expert for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Condé Nast, and the BBC
'Europe's Leading Safari Tour Operator' at the World Travel Awards
8 years in a row, since 2015
"Wies Van der Meer was very patient and answered all of our questions"
"Yellow Zebra excels at understanding our needs and proposing a fantastic itinerary. They take the uncertainty and confusion out of planning. They're super nice, easy to work with, and the trip we arranged them to Southern Africa in 2018 was flawless. We've now planned a 2024 trip through Yellow Z..."
"I haved worked with YZ 2 years in the past and am planning another trip for 2024. Emma has been responsible and flexible as needed. She provides good information and advice based on her travel experiences."
"Olivia was great at listening to my specific requests. It truly is a designed for your wants and needs tour.
The follow-up information regarding travel insurance, visas etc was top notch. You feel very prepared for your trip!"
"I have been delighted with the planning process of our Yellow Zebra African Safari in Botswana. Our travel specialist, Wies Van Der Meer, East Africa manager, was enthusiastic, helpful and informative. His vast knowledge of Africa provided valuable information and perspective about the areas bes..."