*As seen in The Logbook
Africa calls to the adventurer with an unmistakable challenge to seek what is over the horizon, to explore, to discover and to embrace the remarkable beauty of this incredible continent. This is the case even for natives like South African born and bred Kirsty Perring who founded Traversing Africa in 2018. After earning her diploma in travel and tourism and spending twenty three years working in the industry, her safari tour company is the embodiment of her avid belief in the value of travel and its ability to transform the way a person sees and interacts with the world.
“When I started Traversing Africa,” she explains, “I was determined to offer something that was unique and give clients the chance to see their Africa through tailor made journeys that were inspiring and memorable.”
Having grown up in SA, Kirsty goes on to explain that she has spent her life travelling and exploring the continent and as a result possesses an intimate knowledge of the destinations and is able to offer firsthand advice and insider information.
“Nobody wants to think they’re on an average safari,” she points out, “When people commit to come to Africa, they want to believe it’s going to be an adventure. They want to be surprised, they want to be captivated and enthralled. So, I make sure I’m able to offer those secrets that others may not know and that are not readily available on the internet.”
The immersive quality that Kirsty offers in her safari tours is something that has made her a go-to for families, solitary explorers and groups. Typically, the safaris can last between two days and three weeks and offer a range of involvement for all kinds of people. The tailored tours cater for those who are a bit timider and more cautious, seeking to explore Africa from an almost academic approach of look but don’t touch, all the way to those who want to taste Africa on the wind and feel the soil between their toes.
“For those who don’t grow up here,” Kirsty says, “Africa represents a once in a lifetime journey. Each client has dreamt about what their adventure will be like and these expectations need to be respected and, wherever possible, exceeded.”
She goes on to explain that there certainly is enough variety in Africa to achieve this, but it takes that personal approach which is something she has been so dedicated to producing. According to her, the only way to gain access to a client’s list of “must sees”, is to build the sort of relationship with them where they feel they can share.
“While some clients will tell you everything, they want to see in such detail that you need to manage their expectations at the start so as not to disappoint them,” she says, “Others are hesitant to mention what they really want to see and because of this they miss out. So that’s why we build up a relationship where they feel that they can talk about what they’ve always dreamt of seeing in Africa.”
Kirsty adds that these relationships are the most fundamental part of her business and they’re not just limited to her and her clients. There are also the relationships she has with her safari and accommodation partners, where the exchange of information and constructive feedback are vital for the smooth running of the business.
MATCHING THE SAFARI TO THE CLIENT
According to Kirsty, who has seen the industry shift and morph over the last two decades, every person has a safari or tour that is absolutely perfect for them. And, as she and her business represent a number of countries in Africa, all which offer unique and exciting safari options, it’s important to match the country with the clients.
To do this there are a few ways to narrow it down and they involve getting to know the client and asking questions.
“Are they first timers to safari or have they been on one before? Are they travelling with children, and if they are what are the ages? What time of year are they travelling, are they looking for the best price or are they solely interested in the best viewing experience?” she says, “These are the kinds of things we need to know.”
Then, what are their interests and are they aware of the scale of viewing and safari options available? Do they want to explore Africa by trail, water or air? Are they wanting to see birds or buffalo? Migrating herds or predators? Are they looking for adventure or opportunities for photography? Kirsty makes sure that these questions are asked because, as mentioned earlier, she never wants a client to be disappointed because they’ve missed something, they really wanted to see but didn’t mention.
“For those wanting to be hands on there are a number of conservation opportunities for clients to get involved such as rhino darting for research purposes,” she reveals, “Or the safaris can be mixed with some culture, city life, history or even combined with a beach. All of this goes into deciding where to send clients and how to partner them with their perfect adventure.”
Traversing Africa uses a variety of accommodation depending on budget and tastes, ranging from affordable three star to five star deluxe luxury tents, to villas, to bungalows, to hotel type lodges. The average length of stay is three to four nights at each property and Kirsty explains that like the safari, the accommodation must suit the client.
“Smaller boutique properties suit couples and honeymooners while lodges with incredible kids safari programmes are always a win for families,” she says, “Then, lodges that incorporate dining at one big table with all guests and guides are a good option for single travellers, so they don’t eat alone.”
Concurrently, first time safari goers may be wary of staying in tented accommodation regardless of how secure it is, and some people want a home away from home where they can kick of their shoes, put their feet up and help themselves to a drink. Others want to be waited on hand and foot by a fleet of butlers.
“One of the important things to know,” Kirsty adds, “Is if the client needs access to strong WIFI or if they’re looking for a digital detox. And, if it is the latter, how extreme do they want it. For example, are they wanting to go completely cold turkey without any connectivity at all or would WIFI in their rooms still be a good idea? You just need to get to know them.”
Always one to add value, to her client’s experience, to her industry and to the environment that she works within Kirsty has become a familiar face in important causes. Always involved in something worthwhile she is an ambassador of how more businesses should strive to be.
Recently she held a fundraiser in Toronto regarding Saving The Last Rhino Fundraiser, to help raise awareness and finances for Project Rhino. There are some incredible safari prizes up for grabs including safari trips and awesome accommodation stays.
PRICES: See Website
ADDRESS: 55 York Street #1103, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 1R7
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +1 6479240674