To experience southern Africa, is enough of a reason to go there. For no other region offers such a diversity of life in such a range of colours and sounds. Life could have begun here and simply boiled over into the rest of the world. With so much to discover, you shouldn’t risk leaving with average memories thanks to an average ‘budget-focused’ safari guide!
As a top executive, there is something extraordinary about you. You want extraordinary and vivid experiences. You want bespoke, tailor made opportunities to see all of the best that a place has to offer. You want an adventure that would be worthy of a Hans Zimmer original composition. You will not settle for anything less.
And nor should you.
HAYWARD’S GRAND SAFARI
Haywards Grand Safari was founded by Peter Hayward in 1991 and it is the only real choice in bespoke executive level safaris for big groups of over 40 people. It is reminiscent of the bygone days of explorers and great hunters who would embark upon African expeditions with an entourage of a hundred people. Bringing along everything from gun-bearers, hunters and guides to female companions, porters and cooks. Today, there can be up to 200 people on just one of Haywards safaris, enjoying the same spirit of adventure as those pioneers in the 1800s but with far higher standards of luxury.
We spoke with Peter Hayward himself and discovered just what goes into the background of this vibrant, exciting business.
A LINEAGE OF ADVENTURERS
There is a scale to Peter Hayward’s story that could rival any tale in Africa. A full quarter of a century before the famous explorer David Livingstone ever set foot in Africa, Peter’s great, great grandfather James Hayward, a 24-year-old husband and father set sail on 7th January 1820 to Algoa Bay, South Africa, aboard The Weymouth.
Travelling with him was his wife Mary, their one-year old child William and James’ two younger brothers William and George. This was hard-edged pioneering at its best at a time when the Cape’s Eastern Colonies was a vast wilderness of buffalo herds, elephants and antelope, outlined with packs of wild dogs and the ever present simba, the lions.
Safari camps were a way of life for the Haywards. And not much has changed.
“We have a long family line of ‘outdoors men’ and pioneers within the African context,” Peter says, “Our ancestors were opening up regions, putting in towns and farming the rural areas. I am 7th generation in line already and count myself lucky to live in a country that is still dominated by wilderness.”
Within this wilderness Peter’s company creates private events and safari functions for a selection of blue chip corporates, European royalty, Hollywood celebrities and even Miss World pageant finalists. This high-end class of executive has been the focus since 1992.
“In 1991, when we first started we ran smaller weekend fishing camps,” he recalls, “In ’92, we went into the “mega camp concept”, hosting film crews shooting in Namibia and Botswana.”
Between ’96 and ’99 they perfected their production of these mega camps and began hosting corporates into these regions, “Then by the end of 1999 we launched our all new conceptional camp called Haywards Grand Safari Camp – a concept we have been continuously developing ever since.”
This development, while organic, has been very directed. Peter explains that they were clear about wanting to specialise in the group arena from the outset, offering experiences for larger numbers.
“But our presentation, attention to detail and the handling of the individual’s experience is our forte. We offer group safaris yet still provide a personal experience to each group member, this has earned us our five-star status.”
This is not the sort of safari where you would dos in a sleeping bag and spend the day bouncing about on the roof of a Jeep. This is an entirely different class of safari. The groups that Hayward’s Grand Safaris work with are of the size where the main problem faced is access into pristine wilderness areas. The lodges are too small to cater for groups this size, whereas Haywards allows big groups access to unique and remote wildlife areas by bringing their accommodation with them.
Speaking about the exclusivity of their brand, Peter explains, “For us ‘safari’ means taking highly privileged people into highly privileged areas. Our brand of safari is very different from the mill. It is a primary product providing rare and privileged safari events that supersedes the expectations of the clients in every way.”
As the Safari sets off across the continent, each location has its own cache of secrets to be discovered. One of the tasks that Hayward’s Safari has to be able to manage is to orientate guests towards an appreciation of the area they are immersed in.
Peter reveals that they bring in storytellers to do this, saying, “They are historians in their own right and cover a range of archeological, geological and zoological material in an entertaining and personable fashion.”
An example would be i’Simangaliso, which is the biggest wetland park in Africa set within the Zulu culture, and covering various rhino breeding programmes in Africa. The storytellers use the campfire as their stage and weave their stories to the delight of the guests, answering questions as they go and involving everyone. It is the perfect fireside entertainment.
“Great entertainment doesn’t need to be all glitz and glamour,” Peter says, “We do it on a scale that is grand and that is client specific. But “Grand” could mean privacy and the privilege of being the only people on 3000 hectares of remote, pristine wilderness surrounded by a group of lions, or a herd of elephant which walk through camp as they come to investigate the stories being told. This is the priceless value of what we offer.”
RUNNING A “GRAND” SAFARI BUSINESS
Up to 90 staff, dependent on each project as it comes along, and his own four children, work for Hayward Safaris at any given time. And to be a member of the crew, as Peter refers to it, everyone has to be at the top of their game.
Extensive training is given, and through an organising board, each staff member is expected to perform their specific function perfectly. Haywards have an inhouse safari academy for ongoing training and part of this is ongoing development of individual life skills. This is so that their crew members can also become more effective members of society, something that Peter is particularly proud of.
And what sorts of qualities does the individual need to possess to be able to work on the Hayward’s Grand Safari? Peter’s first answer is simple:
“Anyone who can run a 22-hour shift qualifies.”
He elaborates, “The reality is that our crew can handle the punch of long shifts and hard work and do it for extended periods of time. If an individual can deliver and they enjoy the sort of work, we don’t mind where the person originates from. You can’t force someone to have that mindset, but it is an essential mindset to have as we are in the event management industry.”
STAYING AHEAD OF THE GAME
Hayward’s award-winning approach is no secret and Peter knows that despite the seven-generation advantage he may have on some competitors that he has to keep his business ahead of the game. Part of this is keeping abreast of the developments in the industry and understanding how everyone will be affected by such things as reduced budgets, cost increases or client’s expectations.
He explains, “I communicate all the time with people in our world. I like working with true professionals that are on top of their game, and for them to be there they need to know that game inside and out. It’s all part of the formula for success.”
He goes on to explain that they are not in the ‘same old, same old’ business and have to constantly be innovating and improving. They have to, because each and every production for a client is unique from top to bottom. To create the best experience, they have to be able to interpret clearly what the client wants.
“Every client is individual, and we have never had two jobs remotely similar over the past 20 years,” Peter says, “We don’t use templates, irrespective of what the event is be it a 21st or a 60th birthday party, a wedding or the launch of the Ferrari 458, Landrover or the BMW X5. Everything is original from start to finish.”
The company received two international world awards for their Isuzu launch and recently hosted the ruler of Emirates. It’s this diversity that Peter likes about it. These big, high-end, life-changing productions, working with royal family members, or setting up for Dire Straits or Creedence Clearwater Revival on stage, is the space where Peter is most at home.
Pertinently, he says, “We are not a ‘bed option’ for agents desperate to find enough capacity for their big group. We are in the business of creation.”
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