Behind the Scenes: How Your Custom Safari Adventure Comes to Life

If you’ve been reading my previous articles, by now you understand some of the factors that make up the cost of an African safari. Maybe you’ve even started planning your adventure, or have at least downloaded your free guide to give you inspiration and tips.

You’ll know the tough questions to ask the mainstream travel agents or tour operators, and have a good idea of what to make of their answers.

Perhaps you read up on how I work with you if you decide to choose me as your travel designer and I am sure that I can help you get what you want.

But you may well be wondering this: how exactly do I put together your perfect and personalised itinerary?

Allow me to draw back the curtain and show you how the magic happens.

Let’s go behind the scenes and I’ll explain the practical steps I take to create a proposal for you.

And you may have seen this bit coming: Me being me, I will also tell you why the others can’t compete…

How you get from idea to reality: An overview

Initial Enquiry: It all starts when you reach out with your vision or ideas.
Consultation: We discuss your dreams, desires, and details.
Collaboration with DMCs: I work with local experts to craft the logistical side of your journey.
Proposal Creation: I draft a tailored itinerary based on our consultation and my collaboration with DMCs.
Feedback and Refinement: Together, we tweak and perfect your itinerary.
Finalisation: Once you’re thrilled with the plan, everything is set into motion.

The Journey from Enquiry to Adventure

Initial Enquiry

Your adventure begins the moment you contact me. Whether you’re inspired by Africa’s wildlife, landscapes, or cultures, your vision sets the foundation for the entire trip.


Next, we dive deeper. This step is about understanding exactly what you’re looking for in your safari experience. It’s a conversation where your wishes meet my expertise. Don’t know where to go – or when? No problem, we’ll talk about what you want to experience and I’ll give you my opinions and advice.

Collaboration with Destination Management Companies (DMCs)

A Destination Management Company (DMC) is essentially the local architect of your trip and my right hand on the ground in Africa. They know their country’s nooks and crannies and ensure all logistical aspects, like transfers and local flights between destinations, are seamless. They’re crucial because they know how to piece together all the parts of your trip so everything runs smoothly.

My role involves choosing the right DMC to match your adventure’s needs and ensuring they understand every detail of what we’re envisioning.

Putting in the miles

I believe it is vital to meet my contacts in person. This is why I attend as many travel trade shows in Africa as possible – usually 4-5 times a year. This is to meet representatives and friends, to keep up to date with any changes and to meet new suppliers and experience new offerings.

I love these shows but they are exhausting, often I have to complete 30 x 20 minute meetings for 3 days in a row as well as compulsory evening events. It certainly boosts my daily step count!

Only serious “buyers” – i.e. travel designers and agents – make the effort to attend and only a selected few are invited every year . That says a lot about the status of the buyer in the mind of the suppliers, tourist board or organiser that runs these shows.

I always stay for at least 2 weeks extra after the shows to travel and experience things myself as a client would, paying from my own pocket.

I have also spoken at trade events and given my views and input to the travel trade, which I consider another significant stamp of approval from the industry.

At the core of every unforgettable journey is a network of personal relationships. It’s these connections, fostered over years of face-to-face meetings and shared experiences, that allow me to craft safaris that resonate on a deeply personal level. Unlike the distant, often impersonal interactions you might find elsewhere, my collaborations are built on friendship and mutual respect with DMCs across Africa.

Here’s the thing: not all travel agents work directly with DMCs. That’s not how I operate. I’ve spent years building relationships directly with DMCs across Africa. Why? Because when I call, they know it’s me, and they know my travellers expect something special. It’s these relationships that help me make sure your trip is everything you hoped for.

The last thing you want is your dreams getting lost in translation. Yet, that’s a risk when too many layers separate the travel designer from the DMC. Some travel agencies in Europe actually rely on European-based intermediaries to communicate with DMCs in Africa! This dilutes the essence of your adventure, introducing the dreaded “Chinese whispers” effect, where the original message undergoes distortions with every relay.

My approach? A direct line to the DMCs, nurtured through personal relationships, ensuring your wishes are heard loud and clear, without the risk of misinterpretation.

Proposal Creation

Armed with insights from our consultation and the expertise of my DMC partners, I draft your personalised safari itinerary using an immense database of information built up over more than a decade. Some may say that size doesn’t matter, but in this area I would beg to differ. Instead of just using the same few places for each trip, I can pick and choose from hundreds of operators all over the continent.

True understanding comes from immersion. While it’s impossible to visit every potential safari locale, I believe in the power of firsthand experience. That’s why I dedicate weeks of my year, beyond attending trade shows, to exploring new and familiar destinations within Africa at my own expense.

This commitment allows me to share not just recommendations but personal stories and insights, ensuring the adventures I design aren’t just trips—they’re experiences I believe in wholeheartedly.

The proposal I create is just a starting point and will usually incorporate many different options and choices.

Feedback and Refinement

Your feedback is crucial. This is where you have the power to adjust and refine. Our common goal is to ensure that the final itinerary is the trip of a lifetime that you’ve been hoping for. We’ll iterate as many times as needed to get it right.

Another potential issue with using a travel agent – especially one who’s first language is not English – is that misunderstandings often occur. And it’s not enough to simply understand English. You must be able to understand African English. And the culture and quirks of the African travel trade, all aspects that are potential minefields for the inexperienced or linguistically challenged.


With your dream fully realised, I give the green light to our DMC partners to start booking and confirming. Your life-changing adventure is now a plan set to unfold in reality.

So Why Choose Me?

You might wonder what sets me apart. It’s simple: I believe in being there. I’ve trekked the same paths, dined under the same stars, and felt the pulse of Africa – just as I want you to experience it.

It’s this blend of personal experience, direct relationships with DMCs, and a commitment to your dream that allows me to design safaris that are uniquely tailored, deeply immersive, and personally enriching.

The result of all this? A safari that’s been designed with care, knowledge, and a personal touch. From the moment you reach out until you’re back home, sifting through your photos, I’m here to make sure your African adventure is everything you dreamed of and more.

Join Me in Zimbabwe in May 2025!

A unique adventure through Africa’s untamed beauty in May 2025. On this 9-night itinerary we will start with a stay in Victoria Falls and then explore two world-renowned areas of wonderful Zimbabwe: Hwange National Park and Lake Kariba.

Staying at two legendary camps, Bomani and Musango, we will get to experience the thrill of the wilderness in two very different ways.

“This small-group safari, limited to just six guests, is designed to ensure a truly immersive adventure for those with limited time but very high expectations.” – Andy Higgs

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