Your Adventure Leaders
Born in South Africa, Brian originally trained as a computer programmer, but then the lure of the bush came calling. Brian completed numerous game ranger courses before moving to a private bush lodge inside Kruger National Park. Here he began leading game drives and walking safaris, eventually earning recognition from the Field Guide Association of South Africa. Aside from sharing his love of animals and birds, Brian plays guitar and golf. Brain says he “loves to show off our new country, and of course how we are progressing since the apartheid years.” He counts Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park among his favorite places, but is equally at home in cities. Brain likes travelers to see that, “although we are in Africa, we have a fairly advanced economy and infrastructure.”
“Even though I was born in Germany, my heart lies in Africa,” says Anne, who moved to South Africa 26 years ago. The African bush, culture, and people still amaze her every day. After visiting more than 50 countries, Anne proudly declares that, “South Africa is definitely my home.” Anne loves traversing the African bush, observing animals in their natural habitat, and she has a passion for wildlife photography. Her favorite African destinations include Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls, although Table Mountain is also a can’t-miss highlight for her.
Dutch-born Joanna first fell in love with Africa while working in Kampala, Uganda. But her passion for this continent was cemented during a long trip to Zimbabwe and a visit to Cape Town. After managing a hotel and assorted properties in the Cape, Joanna now delights in showing Vantage travelers southern Africa in all its diversity: “Not only all its wildlife, but the different cultures, the beautiful landscapes, and the friendly people,” she says. “And the high quality of food and drink,” she adds with a laugh. Food is so important to Joanna that she once helped fly a turkey from Harare, Zimbabwe to serve at a Thanksgiving bush dinner under the stars in Victoria Falls.
Born into a family of outdoor enthusiasts, Keith grew up accompanying game rangers on anti-poaching patrols in Zimbabwe. His father was the game warden of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and his mother guided tours around Victoria Falls, so Keith always dreamed of a career as a game ranger or guide. Knowledgeable and friendly, Keith loves sharing his experience of growing up in the bush with Vantage travelers. He gets his biggest thrill when his passengers glimpse the Big Five. “The greatest pleasure is when I see the travelers excited and happy, talking to each other about the experience they’ve had on the tour,” he says.
Leon grew up in the 60s in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and spent long afternoons running around barefoot on the small subsistence farm that was part of a mission station established by his great-great grandfather in the 1870s. This outdoor exposure fostered a love of nature that’s at the core of Leon’s tourism career. He loves leading travelers into the bush, as well as bringing them to Namibia — “big sky country with its desert lions and elephants”. He also loves Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, “for their vistas and sheer number of animals.” Leon draws joy from travelers experiencing Africa’s beauty and people. “The African people are the warmest, kindest people on the planet,” he says. “I’m blessed to have been born African.”
A sensitive storyteller possessing a wealth of information on Africa, Mark enjoys clearing up any misunderstandings about this wondrous continent. “Often visitors come to Africa on safari, and in this modern, fast-paced world they get little time or opportunity to read, comprehend, and absorb our history and culture, and what makes us ‘African’,” he says. This discrepancy spurred Mark to get his guide’s license. “If I can engage your intellect, I can stir your heart and reach into the cinema of your imagination. I can awaken emotions and a sense of identification through a narrative that will inspire people to look at Africa in an entirely different light.” One of Mark’s guiding highlights was leading a tour for an Auschwitz survivor. “It’s meeting people like this, and seeing the effect Africa has, that makes it all worthwhile,” he says.
YOUR SAFARI DRIVER-GUIDES
During the safari portion of your trip, you will enjoy the services of Vantage’s experienced, English-speaking driver-guides as your group breaks into smaller parties for our game drives. Naturally, they are excellent drivers who safely navigate our vehicles across all types of terrain. But, they are also eagle-eyed game spotters who know just where to go to track the animals. You may be surprised when your driver-guide points out a speck on the horizon that turns out to be a cheetah, or when he explains the age and life history of a zebra simply by reading the pattern of his stripes. They’re that good! Aside from their deep knowledge of local flora and fauna, they’re great fun to be with. Getting to know them personally will enrich your understanding of African life.
NEW! ENHANCED COMPLIMENTARY WORLDWIDE CONCIERGE SERVICE
If you have a special request or personal interest you’d like to pursue during your journey, your Vantage Concierge is here to help. Even better, this new and complimentary service is available to all travelers — no matter what cabin category or flight class you’ve reserved (making us the best among other deluxe travel companies!).
Whether you want to plan an anniversary party, track down a bit of your family’s heritage in China, secure restaurant reservations in Paris, or organize an intimate pub crawl for your multigenerational group of family and friends in Ireland, our Concierge service can make your travel dreams come true.
Plus, Concierge service is available before or during your journey. Simply log in to MyPortfolio, submit a pre-trip request to Concierge@vantagetravel.com, or call 1-888-982-6824 and you'll have your answer from our Concierge within two business days. Travelers on our European river ships can also stop by the Concierge Desk (located in your ship’s lobby) to make a request during your journey; for land adventures and small ship cruises, your Adventure Leader or Cruise Director doubles as your onboard Concierge.
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM LOCAL LECTURERS
Meet Russell Gammon
Russell Gammon’s family has lived in Zimbabwe since the late 1800s. His love for this land led to a career taking photographic societies across Southern and East Africa, including National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute. On one of his first trips into the bush, he was caught between a pride of lions and 50 charging buffalo. Russell had seconds to decide which terrifying group to fear less. (He chose the lions and lived to tell the tale.) On another occasion, an elephant marched up to the safari vehicle he was sleeping in and poked its head into the back to make sure he knew whose territory it was. As well-versed in wildlife as Russell is, his favorite human subject is the life and times of Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone.
REGIONAL EXPERTS ENRICH YOUR DISCOVERIES
No one knows a destination better than an insider. If you add an optional extension to your journey, you’ll enjoy the services of experienced, English-speaking regional experts. Their deep command of local history will certainly enrich your visits to important attractions. But, our ‘insiders’ go a step beyond, sharing information on behind-the-scenes aspects of local culture that ordinary tours usually overlook. How do families in this area get by? What are some of the local legends? What do the decorations on a particular house mean? Your regional expert is eager to bring it all alive for you.