I first went to Africa in 1987, after reading physics at Queen's College, Oxford. I taught for almost three years in a rural school in Zimbabwe (with VSO), and during this time had the chance to travel extensively. In 1990 I co-authored the Guide to Namibia and Botswana for Bradt Publications: the first English guidebook to these countries. Then shortly after I returned to the UK, to spend the following three years as a business analyst and shipbroker for P&O in London.
Leaving the city, I joined Sunvil Holidays in 1994 to concentrate on what I enjoy most: Africa. The passionate and pioneering company that is Expert Africa grew out of this, and remains a proud member of the Sunvil family of travel companies.
I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I love, and to have an amazing team of specialists working with me and sharing this passion.
I am committed to responsible travel, and regard extensive travel for the whole Expert Africa team as essential – helping everyone to keep up to date and give the best advice possible.
In 1996 I wrote the Zambia guidebook, for Bradt Travel Guides; then the first guidebook to Zambia and now in its 6th edition. I followed it in '98 with a new Namibia guide and in 2003 with a new book on Botswana; both are now in their 5th editions. My wife Susan and I, have co-authored five new Zanzibar guides, and I recently co-authored a couple of guidebooks to Tanzania. My regular research trips to Africa help to ensure that up-to-date new editions are produced regularly.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and periodically contribute to various papers and magazines, from Wanderlust, BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa to The Independent and The Telegraph.
I have been an expert panel member for two of DFID's business challenge funds in recent years, and a director of AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) for the last five years.
Based with my family near Farnham, in the UK, I return to Africa regularly for research trips.
Chris's most recent Africa trips
April to June is my favourite time in Southern Africa, as the environment is still fresh after the rains and the place is fresh with life but fairly empty of visitors. The first part of this trip, with family and friends, was a private mobile safari plus a few days on one of the lovely ‘Chobe Princess’ boats. What a treat – we had both to ourselves! It’s such a privilege to be able to share a love of Africa with my family and friends. Then came a short foray into an area of Hwange that I’d never visited before, reminding me of what a great park it is.
I first visited Kafue National Park in 1995, when the wildlife had been phenomenal. Subsequently, I’d explored it several times although the game on my last visit in 2007 had been disappointing, especially on the Busanga Plains. This trip was a chance to update my view. I saw some some great new camps and Kafue’s game has definitely turned around. Game densities are significantly higher than they were in 2007 – and with African Parks supporting Kafue from 2019, I’d expect it to go from strength to strength.
- I visited
- Kafue National Park
This trip combined research with a family trip: the first time my children (aged 9 & 4) had visited open tented camps in big game areas. It was a privilege and pleasure for me – as well as working wonders for their wildlife knowledge. We visited magical areas and had phenomenal sightings, including leopard and wild dog kills, but what shone were a few guides. The days that we spent alone as a family, choosing our own schedule, with a top private guide – these were very special and our most vivid memories.
Chris's previous Africa research
Namibia's profile has grown immensely since my first guidebook to it 30 years ago, as have the options for visitors there. So research for this edition was a huge undertaking; I was particularly grateful for help of many of the Expert Africa team.
This 5th edition of my Botswana guide is out mid-2018 and, as always, putting it together has been a team effort. Researching in 2017, it was great to see how well Botswana is doing, both for its people and its wildlife - a real success in many ways.
Northern Tanzania Safari Guide
This Northern Tanzania guide has long been Phillip's book - but my wife, Susie, and I took responsible for the islands, and helped across the parks, thanks to the experiences of our travellers there, as well as our our own.
Tanzania Safari Guide
As with Northern Tanzania, my wife, Susie, and I input to this guide at the same time as being responsible for the 'Zanzibar, Pemba & Mafia' guide published at the same time.
Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia
My wife, Susie, and I have written the Zanzibar guide since researching its 6th edition, in 2005. Since then, the island, and the scale of tourism there, has changed immensely – but at its best, it’s still a very magical place.
I backpacked alone to write the first Zambia guidebook in 1996: then Zambia was unknown territory. Now this 6th edition is a team effort: the painstaking research trips helping our specialists to stay up to date with the latest Zambia developments.
I first travelled to Namibia in 1989, pre-Independence. I expected problems but found none. Just a captivating country which was, even then, very easy to travel around. Many editions later, it’s even easier to travel there and just as captivating.
Botswana is always an interesting book to research and write as the concessions and areas change relatively slowly, which gives me time to explore some of the areas in depth each time - and that's always a real pleasure.
Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia
Zanzibar's relative small in size, but there's a lot of places to get around and describe in detail for a guide like this - and the speed of change is high. This guide takes months in the country to research, and longer at home to write.
Namibia & Botswana
I co-authored my first guidebook to Namibia & Botswana in 1990 and a second edition in '94. Both were basic by today’s standards, with line drawings, sketch maps and few pictures, but as the first full English guide to these countries, they did well!