When you’ve been kissed by an elephant…
When you’ve been kissed by a three-month old orphaned elephant, who arrived traumatised and injured at a Nairobi nursery in 1988, having fled through a thorn thicket following the death of his family by Somali poachers, it’s easy to feel a deep affection for Africa.
My love affair with the continent began when I first set eyes on Dika the elephant and continues to this day. So I count my blessings that I’ve been able to stage some stunning events and incentive programmes over the years against some spectacular African backdrops.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Dika recently as we prepare for yet another African adventure in 2019, and having just returned from a reconnaissance with our client, which took in Cape Town, Botswana and the breath-taking Victoria Falls.
The trip reminded me of the sheer scale of the place and how much it offers incentive and event planners. But Africa also epitomises the paradox of choice.
With so many options available, we often hear stories of event planners who become paralysed by the sheer enormity of deciding what to add and what to leave out of client itineraries.
Working in Africa requires expertise, experience and an understanding of what’s achievable. The continent is the size of the U.S, China, Japan, India, Eastern and Western Europe combined, so incorporating multiple destinations requires often significant travel time.
Our approach has always been to keep it simple and build-in an appreciation for local culture, the immediate surroundings and of course the incredible wildlife.
With this mind, below is just five of our suggestions for unforgettable African experiences that are ideal for groups.
And in case you were wondering what ever happened to Dika the elephant, I’m delighted to say that he grew up into a majestic bull, who was last spotted in 2006 within a female unit comprised of several adult cows, their teenaged offspring, and smaller babies.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, responsible for Dika’s recovery and rehabilitation, is rightly proud that he’s been able to grow up and pass on his gentle genes and beautiful temperament to another generation of elephants. Just as we’re proud and humbled to be able to pass on our unique experience and expertise of staging events and incentives across this incredible continent.
Five African adventures for groups
Feeding Rothchild’s giraffe in Nairobi: With fewer than 13 populations and 670 individuals, the conservation of Rothchild’s giraffe is vital to Kenya. Incentive groups can form part of the solution to help secure a future in the wild for this endangered giraffe subspecies.
Flying by microlight aircraft over Victoria Falls: The only way to gain unique, uninhibited and literally breathtaking views of the Victoria Falls and the spectacular gorge that the Zambezi River has carved into the surrounding landscape over many thousands of years. You may even feel like you’ve been kissed by an angel as you fly through the ‘smoke that thunders’.
Fine dining on the Royal Livingstone Express: A restored steam locomotive of polished leather, teak and brass is the setting for an exquisite five-course meal. Guests depart from Livingstone and travel through national park and the Zambezi River Valley. As we cross the Victoria Falls Bridge, which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe, the train stops so groups can admire the views, whilst sipping on curated South African wines.
Table Mountain motorcycle and sidecar tour: Have your breath taken away in a vintage World War II sidecar touring the scenic Cape Peninsula. At the Cape Peninsula’s most southerly tip, the majestic Cape Point Nature Reserve, now referred to as the Table Mountain National Park, lies waiting to be explored.
Quad biking in the Namib desert: The most ‘hands on’ way to enjoy a safari in Nambia’s Namib desert is on a quad bike. Tours can vary depending on a group’s preference and range from a scenic and relaxing cruise over spectacular dunes surrounded by unending desert, to an adrenalin-filled dash up and down the dunes.