GT elephant family trunks entwinedPhoto credit Gavin Tollman

No matter how far and wide one may travel, there is no place like home. Today my wife and I live in Switzerland, the rest of our family is dotted across the globe from London to Los Angeles, Cape Town to Toronto. Yet for all of us, wherever we may be, our hearts will always remain in one place: Africa.

It is impossible to describe just what it is about Africa that so penetrates one’s spirit. A land of abundant beauty and history, stunning scenery and endless horizons, bold energy and intensely rich culture, all of these descriptors apply. But when I am asked what it is that I so love about Africa, only one thought comes to my mind: it is “home”.

It is the land of my history and my roots. Stretching from Cape Town to Cairo, it is in Africa that I feel most alive. And it is in Africa that I can create a most personal journal of my life: racing through the golden grasses of the veld as a child, travelling along the mighty Nile, scaling the Atlas Mountains, releasing a rhino in the Okavango Delta, seeing the city of Nairobi turn a whimsical shade of mauve as Jacarandas burst into Springtime bloom, hearing the unmistakable sound of Zulu drums when in Durban or hearing the call of a lion while sitting around a crackling bushfire after a day on safari. These are my memories, my narratives. These stories that in so many ways define me, are the moments that will remain with me forever.

I am, therefore, excited to share that after an extended wait, the joy of my day job – leading our flagship travel brand, is aligning with my love of Africa. It is with overwhelming pride that I unveil the Trafalgar Africa portfolio. The moment has finally come, a return home, a return to my roots – 72 years in the making.

The timing of Trafalgar’s commitment to Africa has great significance as 2018 marks the centenary of the life of one of the great leaders and fathers of Africa, if not the world – Nelson Mandela (www.nelsonmandela.org/nelson-mandela-100). Also known to South Africans by his clan name, Madiba, he was a proud son of rural Africa who grew to be one of our generation’s most remarkable expressions of courage, compassion, justice, and the journey of a life dedicated to service are concerned. Trafalgar coming home in 2018 is a small homage to the greatest fellow (South) African.

GT Giraffe drinkingPhoto credit Gavin Tollman

Why, might you be asking, did Trafalgar wait this long to fully invest in an Africa programme if our desire to return has been so strong? Waiting has not been easy. However, our commitment to providing nothing but the best when it comes to precious holiday times meant that we needed to have all the pieces in place. We were not prepared to make the promise of being simply the best way to experience Africa unless we could be confident that we could bring our beloved continent to our guests, in our own inimitable way. With TTC’s recent 100% acquisition of the foremost operator in the region, that long-held dream is now very much a wonderful reality.

For our family, to say we take our new Trafalgar Africa itineraries personally is an understatement. Africa is forever our home, the place we know best from our array of personal explorations of the continent. We’ve reached deeper than ever before to share our knowledge and expertise with our guests, weaving in our own passion and history to these handcrafted Trafalgar trips. How else could we do justice to the great blessing of our life’s learnings, our African legacy, sharing with you and your loved ones the secrets and hidden gems that are part of our family collection of favourite memories and moments.

_MEM8225sepiaPhoto credit Mike Myers

Central to all of this this is not simply seeing Africa, but experiencing Africa – meeting its people, embracing their warmth of welcome, feeling the vibrancy of their music, appreciating the distinctiveness of their art, savouring the aromas and tastes of their cuisine, understanding their beliefs and what makes their lives hopeful, seeing through their lives a completely different perspective on life. You can’t imagine how different African life is until you see it, and feel it, for yourself. Our goal is to give everyone that travels to Africa fresh ideas, fresh perspectives and fresh inspiration. I challenge anyone not to return with a new lease of life.

By being exposed to Africa’s diversity of people, cultures, landscapes and lifestyles, everyone who visits develops a wider, richer view of the world. This also provides all of us a huge opportunity to not just learn from the way of life but also to give back. Tourism sustains livelihoods throughout the continent. As a family, we feel strongly about preserving and protecting our homeland and those communities with whom we engage. Last year Africa welcomed 62 million international visitors. Our ongoing aim with TreadRight and JoinTrafalgar is to support and showcase as many projects to as many people as we can.

Of all the places in the world to which one can travel, there really is something inexplicable about the intriguing kaleidoscope that is Africa. We hear it time and again, often with a tone of surprise in the voices of people who have made the journey, unaware of just how emotionally and spiritually profound there their time would be. A trip to Africa always expands one’s mind, and one’s heart. Seeing nature and humanity in its pure, perfect balance helps one realize just what really matters. Modern ways of measuring success and happiness simply do not equate on this continent. Value is not about price tags, it is about discovering what is priceless.

In the wonderfully inspirational words from the great Madiba: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” Nowhere is this exemplified more than in Africa.

For Trafalgar, the journey has been 72 years in the making. The time to travel is now. I look forward to welcoming you on our Trafalgar Africa journey home.

GT pink sunsetPhoto credit Gavin Tollman