Safari Drive was founded in 1993 by Charles and Meregan Norwood. Charles; a highly experienced expedition leader across vast swathes of Africa and Meregan, a race car driver and born adventurer. In 1993 they both flew to Africa to pick up a Land Rover that belonged to Charles and the birth of Safari Drive soon followed.
Our original concept was the “self-drive safari” - a way to discover Africa for oneself.
The original idea was to relocate the Land Rover back to the UK via the Sahara. Fate intervened and instead they drove South and West through Cameroon, The Central African Republic, The Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. A return trip followed to Southern African, and having enjoyed discovering these countries so much in their own vehicle, the concept - a self-drive safari - was conceived and Safari Drive was born.
Having decided to set up the ground operations in 1993, Charles and Meregan returned to the UK to market Safari Drive to the public and became the first Tour Operator to offer this type of safari package, and to this day is the only UK Tour Operating company that owns its own fleet of self-drive 4x4 vehicles across Africa.
Other countries soon followed over the years and we can now tailor self-drive journeys across all parts of Africa from Tanzania down to Cape Town.
Since those early days the company has widened its network and we now have seven fully staffed bases dotted across Africa and our HQ in the English countryside, where the passion and ethos continues strongly into the 21st century.
Charles and Meregan are still driving the routes of Africa today.
Ben took over Safari Drive's management in 2015. He is an advocate of self-drive safaris, having self-driven all over Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and parts of South Africa; his knowledge of the roads in Africa is extensive. He’s also been to Zanzibar a handful of times and often finds himself in Kenya’s Laikipia.
He still gets most enjoyment out of helping clients create their journeys - the more off the beaten track the better - and believes nothing beats camping under the African stars. However, feels the best itineraries are those which have a bit of everything; both camping and lodging.
Having recently returned from North West Namibia, he highly recommends a visit to Hoanib Valley Camp!
Joe joined the Safari Drive team in 2012. A born traveller, he has visited over 60 countries - including all the destinations we operate in Southern & Eastern Africa. Though he has seen so much of the world, he always finds himself wanting to go back to Africa. He has had a special connection with this wonderful continent, ever since first visiting Zimbabwe in 1999 with his father. He now takes every opportunity to grab one of our vehicles and get back on the African roads.
A keen twitcher with a massive interest in wildlife and culture, Joe's knowledge beyond lodges and campsites is extensive.
Jo has been in the travel industry since 2001 working for small specialist tour operators and travelling widely over the years. Joining the team in 2012 her first Safari Drive trip was in Land Rover ‘Bruce’ – an extended journey taking her to through much of Namibia, parts of Botswana and Zambia. Most recently she explored Botswana’s Okavango Delta checking out the best fly-in lodges & some of the wildest campsites you can reach on a self-drive.
She also has a huge passion for South America and is leading the development of our new sister brand; Latin Drive!
Bruce and Barbara Cantle, who live in Maun, are extremely passionate about safari’s in Botswana and are amazing at keeping our UK up to date with the conditions there. This is essential to our operation as road conditions in Botswana change very quickly after the rains each year and the rains don’t always come when expected. This information always points our clients in the right direction so will have a safe and enjoyable safari.
Jens and Anneli head our flag ship base in Namibia, where the majority of our vehicles live. The two of them make the perfect team, as Jens – who is an expert in mechanics and has long history with 4×4’s in Africa – manages and cares for our vehicles, whilst Anneli prepares for each trip and it’s requirements. That said, it’s hard to separate who does what as they really are a team and will always go that extra mile to ensure that our clients have a great time.
Emma is all about the detail. She oversees all of the bookings and payments we make in Africa. This is an integral part of our service and not an easy task when Africa frequently has power-cuts, excuses and oversights. However, lucky for us, Emma makes it seem easy. She also helps develop our internal systems and bakes the most amazing cakes!
Paul, based in Cape Town, oversees our vehicle builds. We’re very lucky him have him on board as he has more than 20 years of experience in vehicle-based travel and has successfully led expeditions to some very remote areas of the planet. He has travelled the length of Africa multiple times and provided technical advice and mechanical support for numerous private world expeditions. Since he’s come on board, not a bolt has been left ignored in our vehicles and as new equipment comes available, he is the first to know whether to get it or not.
Gene Pecker is based in Livingstone and works at our Zambia base, found at Waterberry Lodge. Gene’s been a wonderful asset ever since she started with us and as our clients keep reminding us. She’s very good at detail and is passionate about making sure the clients have the best trip possible. Her tips and info will go a long way so be sure to listen carefully.
AJ was born in Harare and lived in Zimbabwe until he went to University in Cape Town. He then decided to move to Botswana where they managed several High-End luxury camps in and around the Delta. Since then AJ has moved to Victoria Falls where they run a small guest house and our Zimbabwe base.
We recognise that in carrying out our work as tour operators, we have a responsibility to respect other peoples’ communities. We acknowledge that wherever a tour operator does business or sends clients, it has the potential to do both good and harm and we are aware that all too often the harm can outweigh the good.
All tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economic impact on the destination involved. To help us do so, here is a set of guidelines intended to help companies, customers and local suppliers recognise common responsibilities.
Hiring and training talent on location.
From office to destination
Protect flora, fauna & landscapes
Uphold traditions, religions & built heritage
Through noise reduction, waste disposal & minimal congestion
Supporting local charities
& social initiatives
The Mammadu Trust was founded by Agnes Albrecht to care for and support orphans, children and minors who are living in extremely vulnerable conditions. Mammadu is a non-profit organisation for Other Vulnerable Children which was established and registered in Namibia in 2008 with the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services.
When we contacted Agnes Albrecht, founder of Mammadu, we found that the items most in demand for the children were warm clothes and sleeping bags. Many of these children live in tiny sheet-metal constructions, offering them little protection from the freezing temperatures that occur in winter. There is also a great need for underwear and socks, with children sadly very often going without - this was a particular request which we felt could be answered with our help.
Upon arrival in Windhoek you will meet Jens and Anneli Denk of Safari Drive Namibia for your briefing. You can arrange in advance with us to visit Mammadu or else we can take your items to Mammadu for the children on your behalf.
In January 2015 Safari Drive completed a project in conjunction with Waterberry Zambezi Lodge to supply each of the seventy six children at Tukongote Community Pre-School with a school rucksack. The project was a real success with Safari Drive clients all pulling together to make this target a reality.
Safari Drive now continues to support Tukongote Community Projects, founded by Waterberry in 2009, which helps to improve the educational opportunities in nearby villages. They began with one preschool class, and now support over 400 children in 3 preschools and 1 primary school. The core focus is the newly built Tukongote Community Preschool with its 3 colourful classrooms, outside classroom, kitchen and feeding shelter. 75 little ones receive creative, fun and holistic free schooling, in what is probably the brightest school in Zambia.
They employ 25 local teachers and support staff, 14 of whom we are assisting to gain recognised teaching qualifications. Many of the staff live in these villages and you can experience everyday rural Zambian life as well as seeing the Tukongote projects in action if you join a village walk whilst staying at Waterberry. It is a fascinating insight.