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Hayley Idensohn

Who am I?

My father’s family – the Kings - were 1820 settlers from the UK who moved to the Cape (and still have a strong presence in the Eastern Cape), where they were cattle stud farmers and horse breeders. Many of the Eastern Cape farms are still in the King family. I also have many family members in various parts of Southern Africa.

My maternal grandmother was from Scotland and grandfather from Ireland and they bought a farm in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia in those days). On their route home, they regularly encountered lions lying on the roads, and had to give way to wildlife.  Bushman paintings in the caves on the farm depict rhino and several others of the Big Five.  Today they don’t have the Big Five on the farm but several types of antelope are still present and family members run the farm. My grandparents are buried on the family farm.

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe although my parents did spend a few years farming in Zambia so I spent my early years on a farm in Mukushi, Zambia, where we did cropping, but also had game on the farm and as early as 3 years old, I can remember my father coming to collect me to show me the sable!

My love of travelling, exploring, of the outdoors and of nature has remained with me and largely influenced my decision to go into tourism. Through this vocation I have visited many lodges and camps and been on many safaris throughout Southern Africa.

Where did I travel to?

I went to college in South Africa and spend a couple of years working at law firms in Johannesburg and then in my 20s spent a couple of years based in the UK working at law firms in London.  During this time I travelled quite extensively – around England, Scotland, Ireland but also much of Europe, as well as USA and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and even Russia which was fascinating in that era.

What I like about Zimbabwe and Botswana

I am Zimbabwean so naturally biased,  but there is a lot that I love about Zimbabwe – the people are unique – they are friendly and kind and smile readily. If there is a crisis in Zimbabwe people rally to help others less fortunate and this is an incredible attribute. “Warm weather warm hearts” can be said of most Zimbabweans.  The weather is wonderful virtually all year around, and besides World Heritage Sites, a Natural Wonder of the World and interesting culture – the wildlife is diverse and prolific.  The country is diverse and offers so much, from climbing mountains or horse riding and trout fishing, to canoeing down the mighty Zambezi River or fishing for the famous fighting tiger fish. Besides being a Natural Wonder of the World, Victoria Falls is the adventure capital of Southern Africa and over the years I have had the privilege of partaking in a myriad of these activities ranging from white water rafting several times, to the Flight of Angels over the Falls, to canoeing and much more.

Mozambique is one of my personal favourites due to the fact that the beaches are so unspoilt and natural and the water so very blue and transparent.  Each country in Africa is unique and has something special to offer from deltas to deserts and so much in between.  Botswana is one country that has a lot to offer and should be visited.

My favourite moment

Difficult to say for sure as have been blessed to have many favourite moments, especially growing up and living in Zimbabwe, but one of them would be sipping on a gin and tonic, fishing and watching elephant drinking and playing in the water, listening to the sounds of the hippo and other wild life, as the sun sets - in our boat with my husband Len and my family or friends - it doesn't get a lot better than that! Or tracking lion on foot and getting up close - with an armed professional guide - I love that too! 

My favourite experience

I have had many memorable experiences but to name a few - interacting with the gentle giants of Africa – elephants - is one of my favourite activities, and learning more about their behaviour and how incredibly intelligent and empathetic they are.  Canoeing on the Zambezi River (especially the lower Zambezi) and camping on islands is another of my favourite experiences.  Zimbabwe’s guides are incredibly well trained and knowledgeable and walking in the bush with one of these experienced guides, and especially tracking lion is another experience that I love. I am passionate about supporting and promoting remote camps where their presence assists in deterring poaching of our precious wildlife.

Personal tips

Besides all the obvious like sunblock and appropriate clothing, I would say comfortable walking shoes are important and ensuring you have extra batteries for your camera.  A little head lamp torch is very useful and always ensure you carry sufficient water if walking in the bush.  Remember it can get chilly in the evenings in winter so pack a sweater. Don’t be put off if it rains – especially if it is a thunder storm.  Africa is very dramatic and the thunder storms depict this and so do the sunsets – so sit back and enjoy the experience!

My next trip

My next trip :Mana Pools in the rainy season to witness this destination when it is lush and wildlife are fat and healthy, and to see lots of new baby animals – with some good friends and very experienced wildlife experts- to name a few – Sally Wynn of Wild Zambezi and Dick Pitman of Zim4x4 and Stretch Ferreira of Goliath Safaris.

Meet my colleagues

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Bruno Van den Bossche

Passionate about Africa in general and both Zimbabwe and Botswana more specifically, meet Bruno Van den Bossche, our Marketing Director. But beware ... his passion is contagious!!!

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Donald Hondo

As reliable as a Swiss clock in planning creative itineraries!!! Meet Donald HONDO whose 20 years of experience will aim at exceeding your guests' expectation!