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For me, being on an African Safari adventure isn’t just about seeing lots of animals in their natural surroundings but about a far deeper connection with my past, my present and my future. Being part of Rhino Africa’s journey for so long has given me the opportunity to see some incredible things. I can’t even say this is a career of mine as it’s so much more than that. Knowing that my clients are going to experience something so much more than what they are expecting is such a beautiful thing and I take great pride in working closely with them on making life changing memories.
Africa offers the perfect canvas to create life changing magic
Growing up in South Africa I was incredibly lucky to have spent lots of family time on safari, whether it was in the Kruger National Park or in Zimbabwe canoeing down the Zambezi River. I think I can safely say that this is where my love affair with the bush started.
After losing my father suddenly in 2000 I was sent to the Kruger National Park to Jock’s Safari Lodge and looking back now it was the best thing I could have done at the time.
Being on my own there and not long after his passing, I felt very close to him there and as I listened to the peace and quiet of the bush a sense of calm washed over me and still does today. There is something incredibly spiritual in the quiet of the bush and it’s something I know my clients will connect with too.
Time in the bush will always remind me of my dad
I have been very lucky enough to experience many places during my time at Rhino Africa and all are just so incredible in their own way, but my last experience to the Okavango Delta in Botswana was something I will never forget.
With my Rhino Africa colleagues in the Okavango
We were hosted on an educational and we stayed at Zarafa, Selinda, Duba Explorer and Duba Plains. We arrived on the airstrip in the middle of a sand storm and once it cleared, the beauty of the area revealed itself and it was honestly like what I imagine the Garden of Eden looks like.
On our final afternoon game drive at Duba Plains we witnessed something special.
We were sitting on the vehicle watching a huge troop of baboons playing on the grass, fish eagles calling above and there seemed to be a nervous energy amongst the troop as storms clouds built and the thunder and lightning began. A mother rhino then walked onto the grass with her baby calf, literally a few days old, right in front of us. We stayed with them for what seemed an age and when she decided to leave, we watched her meet up with about 8 other mothers and babies.
When the rain really started to come down, the calves were so excited as it had been so dry and made us wonder if this was the first rains they had experienced. We watched them playing for over an hour and as I watched them, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It was just so incredibly moving.
The storm clouds just before our Rhino sighting
A few years ago I was blessed to travel to Tanzania and experience the beauty of East Africa first-hand. It was going to be a long trip and I have a brood of my own at home that would surely miss me! But it was a bucket list trip and I couldn’t wait to go.
I’m not sure if it was the people I was travelling with or the beauty and warmth of the Tanzanian people or possibly a combination of both, but it truly touched my soul. I remember seeing the Ngorongoro Crater for the first time – not a person in sight – just me and the vast crater floor in front of me. I remember I was listening to a song by One Republic “I lived” and it made me realise just how incredibly lucky I was to be alive and to be experiencing all I was at the time and all that is still to come.
My children love Africa as much as I do and I know it instills pride and a devotion of the African bush in them that is truly and uniquely South African.
My girls – the love of my life
I’ve had three life changing days in my life. First my wedding day, secondly the birth of my daughters. My experience at Londolozi’s Healing House is number three on my list.
Working at Rhino Africa, and also in my own personal capacity, I have been to many lodges and in turn experienced many day spas in my career. Without a doubt, the Healing House was an experience I’ll never forget.
My beautiful message from The Healing House.
I felt totally connected to the bush, all of my surroundings and just being alone with my thoughts. It wasn’t just a spa, it was a place to go to feel healed, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. I remember watching a sunbird hop onto the deck while I was in the freeze pool (part of the body reactivation session) and I was mesmerised by it. It seemed to watch me for ages and it was so close to me I could have touched it. When my morning was over I returned back to my chalet at Varty Camp and it had followed me to my door as if it was escorting me back home. It was something so small but had such a big impact on my thoughts that day.
Londolozi Varty Camp Main deck. Photo Credit: Londolozi
I am honoured to be part of Rhino Africa’s journey for many years now and can’t wait to share some of these adventures and destinations with you when the world is able to travel here again. I would like to think that Covid-19 has made many people realise just how important family and friends are and that enjoying travel with them is one of the most special gifts we can give. We hope it won’t be long until you’re here with us and we can show you just how unique our continent is.
A wacky member of the Rhino Africa team, Helen originally hails from Leeds in England. And you can still hear it! Her family emigrated to sunny South Africa over 30 years ago and never looked back. Helen now has a family of her own and is proud to call Cape Town home! That's our girl. Helen has a musical background and sings for some local bands but decided 15 years ago to put the mic down and start a career in tourism! Qualifying as the youngest South African local tour guide, Helen loves putting together itineraries and dealing with clients to ensure they go home with memories that last a lifetime!
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Some lovely stories Helen- its so nice to `get to know you’ better after so many years of coming to you for our Africa adventures. Reading about your love of the bush and the impact it has on you, makes me realise how much love we share in a similar way for the wonderful continent that is Africa. We hope to be travelling back in the not too distant future. In the meantime I hope everyone at Rhino stays healthy and safe.
Thanks Charlie You and Mark can certainly relate to the blog for sure! I hope we’ll have you back soon enough for your next adventure Love Helen
It is wonderful to read your experiences and what you feel . I live in Kenya , 3 generations now . Kenya too is beautiful
Gosh Helen…I have known you for so many years and you have brought so much joy and peace to both Mike and me on all of our trips arranged by you….reading your blog I had tears in my eyes, because I experience the exact same things every time I come to South Africa and go on our incredible safaris!!! From all the places I have visited in the world, nothing compares to the open savannah….and perhaps that is also my South African roots….Africa is and always will be my “happy place” – you are so right to say that there is no-where in the world that offers the same feeling that touches your inner most core! I am so grateful to have met you all those years ago, and you are always our go-to person for our African trips…it was also much appreciated during our last trip, that we met you at your offices….Both Mike and I look forward to touching base again soon…stay safe and always be well…until our next meeting…
Dear Sejal thank you for taking the time to reply to my blog! Kenya certainly is a stunning country and you are incredibly blessed to call that home! stay safe and well Warm regards, Helen
Dear Anastasia Amazing to hear from you again and so pleased you’ve had a read through my blog! You’re one of the reasons I love doing what I do and just knowing what your experiences have meant to both you and Mike it makes it all the more sweeter. I hope it won’t be long before you’re both back again and hopefully next time we can all enjoy a nice glass of Cape wine together much love Helen
Dear Helen, it was so nice to read your personal story about your experiences in Africa. You organized our one and only trip to South Africa in 2018 and those wonderful memories have stayed with us ever since. Unfortunately, because of health issues, we have not traveled anywhere since. Hopefully, we might be able to do so again but if our travels were to end with our trip to SA, then what a wonderful way to end it… Warmest regards, Carol & Kent from Toronto, Canada.
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