How Yellow Zebra remain experts in Safari Africa

06 September 2018

Yellow Zebra says ‘Safari Njema’ to expert Sophie

Since November 2016, Sophie has been an invaluable member of our team at YZ. Now, after almost two years of working in our London-based office, her desire to be back in the bush (UK or Africa, TBC) is too much! Here she recounts her experiences as a YZ expert:

The best part of my job as a safari specialist is that I get to talk about Africa all day long, and the second best bit is receiving an email from a client who has just returned from Africa and has had an amazing safari.

I have a big smile on my face as I read the emails I receive when clients get home. In my mind, I am picturing the camps they stayed in, and sometimes I recognise the names of the staff. I can imagine the leopard in the tree and the elephants playing in the river, and I can hear the lions roar. I love being on safari and being in Africa, and if work means I have to be in London then to hear about client adventures keeps me very happy.

The Importance of educational trips

If you were to ask me what the most important part of my job is, both personally and professionally I would say my educational trips to Africa. As I love Africa, to have the opportunity to spend three weeks a year on a safari that takes me to the best camps in the best parks and gives me amazing experiences that I otherwise would not have had is incredible. But it’s also invaluable to me as I develop my knowledge as a safari specialist.

When I am on an educational trip, I am working – my temporary office becomes a safari chair on the veranda of my tent or the back of a gem viewer. To learn as much as I can about any destination, my aim is to see and do as much as possible while I am away. My itinerary is almost always one night in each camp, and when all of the guests are out of camp on game drives or having a siesta, I am doing sight inspections at neighbouring camps so I understand the difference between the properties. Sometimes these differences are very subtle, and the only way to understand them is to physically visit the camps so that is what I do.

The YZ expert way

Having been a camp manager and managed several camps I am very quick to see the differences, all the little things that it used to be my job to notice to make sure the camp was running smoothly – and old habits die hard. As an agent who has been there and done that, I am a camp manager’s worst nightmare!

On my first educational, a baptism of fire to Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar, I stayed at 26 different camps in 27 nights and did over 35 sight inspections. I filled two notebooks and took hundreds of photos (some were of loos!).

My notebooks are now my bibles and the photos my memory cards. I really enjoyed being in the camps listening to the other guests and their comments about their experiences. Listening to others is the best way to find out what the camps are really like from a guest’s point of view. Don’t get me wrong, these trips are hard work, but I have a huge smile on my face from the moment my feet touch African soil until the time I board my flight home.

On my educational trip to Zambia I saw not one but TWO aardvark – and in Botswana I saw so many sitatunga antelope I am no longer sure they are as rare and shy as all the guidebooks say they are!

Happy days and happy memories, thank you Yellow Zebra.

Written by Sophie, ex-safari specialist who was an invaluable member of our team from November 2016 to August 2018. Sophie left YZ after almost two years of working in our London-based office, as her desire to be back in the bush proved too much! We wish her every success for the future.