March 21

Taking to the Seas for Rhino Africa’s 20th Birthday Extravaganza


By Xinay De Vries on March 21, 2024

In this day and age, where do you find companies that go the extra mile for their employees? The answer, of course, is Rhino Africa. David Ryan, Founder of Rhino Africa, continues to break the mould when he decided to surprise all 131 staff members with a cruise of a lifetime to celebrate the company's 20th birthday.

"It's a celebration befitting a Crash as fine as ours, where we honour the people who've been critical to the success of Rhino Africa. And what better way than to celebrate all together." – David Ryan.

David Ryan partying with his Crash Rhino-style!

Rhino Africa: Safari Excellence Since 2004

Rhino Africa came to fruition 20 years ago, humbly born around David's kitchen table. However, things have changed drastically since then, as we've now, two decades later, cemented ourselves as the World's Most Awarded Luxury Safari Company. But this doesn't give full context to what really drives our passion.

At its core, Rhino Africa is dedicated to creating a positive impact. With every seven people we bring to Africa, we know that one sustainable job is created in tourism. This not only drives community upliftment but also the protection of our wildlife and wild spaces. 

Since its inception, Rhino Africa has been instrumental in supporting the advancement of digital rural education through key organisations such as The Good Work Foundation and The Click Foundation, as well as driving conservation efforts of critically endangered animals through Wildlife ACT. Through a sustainable and developing tourism economy, there can be far-reaching benefits for all those concerned, and Rhino Africa is committed to creating as much impact as possible.

David Ryan, CEO und Founder of Rhino Africa

David Ryan, Founder and CEO of Rhino Africa

Celebrating Our 20-Year Love Affair With Africa

To commemorate this impressive milestone, we went BIG. Our entire company flew to Durban for a four-day cruise to celebrate Rhino Africa's success and spend quality time on board the MSC Splendida.

While we may be a travel company, several members of our Crash have never had the opportunity to travel outside their home cities, let alone on a plane! Witnessing the awe and joy on the faces of those experiencing a host of firsts was a special moment. It truly reminded us why we do what we do and love doing it.

And so, our Rhino Africa Crash pack their bags in preparation for a fun-filled long weekend cruising the high seas...

Two members of our Crash are all smiles as they board the MSC Splendida

A Journal Diary of Our Trip... 

Our journey begins... The day of the big birthday bash cruise dawns brightly and extremely early as our excited Rhino Africa Crash arrives at the Cape Town International Airport. With our bellies full of coffee and bags bulging with multiple costume changes, we board our flight to Durban in a way only Rhinos can, filled with laughter and anticipation for the voyage ahead.

As we land in Durban, the excitement is palpable. Boarding buses like giddy school kids on a field trip, we make our way to the cruise terminal. The sight of the ship awaiting us was like a modern-day Titanic, sans the iceberg, of course! And our mascot, Rodney the stuffed rhino, is as ready for the adventure as we are.

All aboard and anchors away! The fun starts when our feet hit the deck, and the search for our cabins ensues. Hilariously, my roommate and I manage to get lost – more than once, I might add – while trying to find our cabin. 

Hot tip: When choosing your partner in crime for a cruise, make sure at least one of you has a working sense of direction!

Our home for some hightide hijinks, Image Credit: Tobin

We Show up in Tropical!

The first night aboard the ship is every bit as exciting as we could imagine. Like the tropical birds of paradise we're emulating, we flock together for our themed event. Gathering on the deck, drinks in hand, we watch as the sun dips below the horizon and brace ourselves as the cruise ship begins to leave the harbour. Moving with the motion of the ocean, we shimmy to Club 33 to dance the night away!

Tropic like it's hot!

Grooving to the Beat of our Own Drum

Day two aboard the boat is just groovy! After spending the day exploring the ship and all its treasures, it's time for our next costume change. Doing our best impression of disco balls, we adorn ourselves in shimmering sequins and, in true Rhino fashion, groove to the beat of our own drum.

We're quite a sight for the other passengers to behold as we sing along to the classic tunes of Queen, Starship and more performed at the theatre's Rockstar Royalty show. And as night falls once again, we have no choice but to boogie on the dancefloor to show our fellow passengers how it should be done!

On day two, we embraced the 70's in style

On a Cruise, We Wear White

On our final evening aboard the splendid Splendida, we're all the belles, or perhaps brides, of the ball as we drape ourselves in our finest whites, ready to paint the town – or rather, the ship – Rhino red!

As a final night hurrah, our Captain, David Ryan, treats us to a scrumptious three-course meal at one of the ship's speciality restaurants. With the wine flowing and the Rhinos glowing, we raise our glasses to a fantastic weekend and a well-spent 20 years of sharing our love of Africa with the world. 

It's a love we can share all thanks to our amazing crew, our partners and, of course, our guests whose wanderlust for African travel we simply love to satiate.

Making memories we'll never forget!

A Celebration Of The Ages

Our big 20th birthday cruise may have come and gone, but we'll continue to celebrate who we are and what we do. Africa is a special place filled with amazing experiences, people and wildlife and we absolutely love sharing it with our fellow travellers.

Sometimes, when you're exposed to something often enough, they start to lose their lustre. This weekend helped remind us of the magic that can be found not only in African travel but in the people who make it happen.

So, here's to the next 20 years of Rhino Africa doing what we do best!

X Rhino Africa Consultants

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About the author 

Xinay De Vries

Born and raised in South Africa, Xinay is no stranger to all the amazing possibilities Africa has to offer. She's a self-proclaimed bookworm and coffee addict with a yen for bubbles and rosé, so you'll often find her exploring the streets of Cape Town looking for the best cup of coffee or glass of wine. With a passion for travel and her home country, she's determined to get others to love Africa as much as she does!

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