By Kathleen Retourné (What Does the Giraffe Say)
A visit to a casino in South Africa changed Steve Roberts life forever. But, not for the reasons you might think…
Steve was working as an accountant for a logistics company, which moved copper from Zambian mines. Then, a chance encounter with a safari guide while playing poker, resulted in a total over-haul of Steve’s life and African Safari Experience was born.
“We had a break [from poker] and asked everyone what they did. And, one guy was a lawyer, farmer etc. and it got to a really cool guy on the end and he said ‘I run a safari company’ and I thought that is what I want to do,” Steve said.
While he admitted that starting a safari from scratch was difficult, Steve has never been happier in his career, and the company recently celebrated its fourth anniversary.
“I think, for a lot of people, you get that African bug and you can’t get rid of it. You just want to be out there. There is something special about Africa,” he added.
Together with his Zambian busines partner Constance Bwembya Sampa (Connie), Steve hires local guides to use their knowledge of the country’s wildlife and to provide an authentic travel experience to guests.
Having experienced the behaviour of some international companies taking profit from a country and not giving back to local communities, Steve was adamant that African Safari Experience would do things differently.
“I think it is important to have that social responsibility. If you are earning profits from a country, then I think it is important to give back as well. My busines partner Connie and myself have always been passionate about that,” he explained.
African Safari Experience offer cultural tours as well as taking visitors to the local market and tailors. A safari with them is not just about the animals, but also about the local culture.
“There are 70 plus different tribes/languages in Zambia, and it is fascinating. Zambian people are some of the friendliest in the world and are very proud – and rightly so – of their history. It is great for us to showcase that,” he enthused.
The organisation also tries to help community initiatives, most recently it supported Baobuyu Learning Centre by promoting and raising funds for a bore hole. Click here to find out more.