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On this trip I was bitten by the travel bug and, whilst I have travelled to many destinations since Africa remains special. The combination of wilderness, adventure and wildlife ensures that I keep returning. In 2011 I visited Kenya on another family safari to Laikipia and the Masai Mara. I enjoyed my time in the Mara so much that two weeks later I was back on a plane to work at Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp for a month.
Whilst at university studying physics I became involved in an independent project to raise money and build a school in the Chikolongo region of Malawi. I was lucky enough to visit the school in 2012 and continue to be involved in the project. After graduation, I spent six months in the French Alps on a Ski season followed by an extensive two-month self-drive trip around southern Africa in a beaten-up old Land Rover.
Following these travels, I spent a year working on special effects in the film industry before the itch for Africa persuaded me to move to the travel industry and Expert Africa in 2015. Since joining I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our Namibia programme and I continue to travel extensively - both with work and independently.
Tom's most recent Africa trips
After a three-year hiatus, I was delighted to get back to Botswana and explore several new areas. Although the rains had arrived, I still managed to see some excellent wildlife and enjoy a good range of activities. I was also pleased to be able to spend a night in Victoria Falls and catch up on some of the exciting new properties there. Highlights of this trip included watching storms roll across the Delta, witnessing a leopard catch his lunch, and boating on the Chobe River.
This was my first trip back to Africa following the emergence of covid-19. Returning to Namibia, the destination I know best, made this long-anticipated trip all the more special. Namibia's 2021-22 rainy season saw good rains arrive relatively late in the season so the bush was green, and the wildlife was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, an abundance of grass made wildlife watching a little harder than usual. Still, Namibia's guides' expertise, patience, and perseverance were rewarded with memorable sights, including flamingoes on a water-filled Fisher's Pan in Etosha, numerous rhino and lion sightings, and some fantastic encounters with Damaraland's desert-adapted elephants.
Having worked on the 5th edition of the Bradt Botswana Safari Guide it was wonderful to get back out to Botswana and explore the Delta in more detail. Despite visiting at the height of a severe drought we were incredibly lucky on the trip with lots of cats, plenty of wild dog and several firsts. Personal highlights included a scenic helicopter flight transfer between camps, aardwolf & spotted hyena cubs and thunderstorms as the rains arrived.
Tom's previous Africa research
For this book I spent a couple of weeks researching the Southern Kalahari and Fish River Canyon, Lüderitz and the Southwest and sections of The Central Corridor chapters. I really enjoyed returning to these often remote and picturesque areas.
For this book I spent four weeks in country on two different trips to help research and update the planning and preparation, Maun, Okavango Delta - Private reserves, Okavango Panhandle, Kalahari's Salt Pans and Central Kalahari chapters.