by Helen Kirby on July 6, 2020
6 min read

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. 

Nxabega camp at sunset

Africa offers the perfect canvas to create life changing magic

My First Private Safari Experience

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.

Helen and Dad

Time in the bush will always remind me of my dad

My Favourite African “Soul” Destination

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.

Helen with Rhino Collagues

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.

Helen's landscape in Botswana

The storm clouds just before our Rhino sighting

Helping to create a life long legacy for my own children

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.

Helen and her children

My girls – the love of my life

A Surprising Sunbird at Londolozi’s Healing House

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.

Helen at Londolozi Healing House

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.   

Interior de Londolozi Varty Camp

Londolozi Varty Camp Main deck. Photo Credit: Londolozi

Everyone should Experience Africa

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.