Olivia joins YZ with half a decade of experience in designing tailor-made safaris to Africa. Her expertise lie in East Africa, specifically Kenya and Tanzania, and Botswana.
With a degree in Environmental Science, years of conservation placements across the globe, and a career that has included working for one of the UK’s leading Africa safari specialists, Olivia joined the Yellow Zebra team in 2021 already an expert on Kenya and Tanzania. Her specialist knowledge is some of the very best you’ll find of any consultant on the topic.
Olivia's most recent Africa travel was on safari through Botswana's superb national parks and private concessions, moving east to west from Chobe National Park to the stunning Okavango Delta. She then spent time exploring Cape Town and its surrounding regions, an ideal change of pace from an extensive safari.
Olivia's most memorable experience
“Any African and/or safari experience can throw up some really magical memories, so narrowing this down is certainly not easy! Elephants are my favourite animal so any of the very intimate, peaceful and private encounters in Damaraland would be up there. Some whole nights in Damaraland were spent awake on rhino poaching watch, sitting up listening to the sounds of the night, watching stars shoot across the hugely expansive sky, with elephants quietly coming to investigate the group’s vehicles nearby – a very quiet, atmospheric memory, but quite unforgettable.”
Olivia grew up in the south of England, but her family frequently embarked on holidays, which fuelled her love of travel from an early age. Their trip to Kenya in her early teens was a game-changer and she knew that she wanted to return to Africa as soon as possible.
At the University of Leeds, Olivia completed an Environmental Science degree where her primary interests were in sustainable development and wildlife conservation, while her dissertation investigated the impacts of climate change on crop production in Ghana.
She spent the next couple of years volunteering in Australia and Malaysian Borneo, mixing in a couple of winters working in The Alps, and joining conservation projects in Namibia and South Africa.
Olivia spent a number of months living in Damaraland, volunteering for a project that aimed to reduce instances of human–wildlife conflict between farmers and villages with the desert elephants that roamed this part of the country. This experience included sleeping on a mat and cooking over the fire, and days were spent in the bush working and monitoring the herds – a simple yet extremely rewarding adventure.
In South Africa, Olivia was based at Kariega Game Reserve on the Eastern Cape as part of their volunteer program, which helped manage the reserve’s biodiversity and predator monitoring. Time off was spent galloping along the beaches and enjoying the wildlife on her doorstep – she was often not able to get into the volunteer house as there’d be a bull elephant in the way!
On return to the UK, working in the African travel industry seemed like an obvious choice at this stage. Olivia spent five years working for a London-based safari specialist, where she enjoyed numerous research and personal trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. It is this first-hand knowledge of East Africa that has enabled her to create tailored itineraries, a skill which she has now expanded to include Southern Africa with Yellow Zebra.
"I just came back from a 3 week safari trip to Uganda and Tanzania arranged by YZ... It was flawless. YZ exceeded my expectations in every regard and I would highly recommend them to anyone planning a safari. Special shout out to Olivia... who worked with me for months on putting together the perfect safari vacation."
Dilys - Uganda and Tanzania, July 2022
"Olivia listened to my very vague description -- once in a lifetime, luxury but authentic safari experience and HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK!... Every camp and resort had special touches for us that YZ helped organize. My husband and I can not say enough great things about Olivia and Yellow Zebra Safaris -- we also can't wait to book another trip with them!"
Amanda - Kenya and Zanzibar, June 2022
"My husband and I just got back from the most amazing honeymoon trip in Tanzania booked with Yellow Zebra! We really had no idea what we were doing planning this trip and Olivia made it all so easy. We knew we wanted the trip to be part safari part beach. Olivia asked us about our interests and designed us the perfect itinerary to fit exactly what we hoped to experience on the trip."
"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..."