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INTERVIEW: African Travel Specialists talk trends and tips

The vast African Continent continues to be a top destination for many Aussie travellers. Here, Richard Ruskin, Managing Director of African Travel Specialists, reveals some of his favourite off the beaten track experiences.


What travel trends are you currently seeing into Africa?

More upmarket travel, a lot more multi-generational travel and we’re also seeing a big increase in experiential travel.

We’re finding that more people are coming to us because there’s a huge amount of confusion with all these “deals” from online companies. Once consumers understand that what they’re actually getting is different to what is being advertised, they come to us for expert guidance.


If people don’t travel with you, they’re not getting the best possible experience?

We are true specialists. I would rate our knowledge bank better than any other operator, simply because every single one of my staff only deals with Africa and they all have enormous onground experience.

Probably the greatest asset the company has got is the team.


What is your point of difference?

Attention to detail, over delivering on expectations and understanding what the guest wants to see. It’s not about lodges, it is about experiences. We’re an Australian-owned company with more than 50 years in the industry.



So as the African specialist, what off the beaten track experiences can you recommend?

Southern Tanzania and places like the Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park and chimp trekking in the Mahale Mountains. I’ve guided through these places manytimes and they are all amazing areas.

I take walking safaris in some of the bush camps in the South Luangwa NP in Zambia and we offer even more remoteexperiences, like walking with the Masai in Loita Hills in Kenya. We also offer great travel experiences to places like Ethiopia and Ghana.


You mentioned experiential travel earlier. This seems to be the trend in travel right now.

We support four villages in Africa and I’m also a director of Women for Women in Africa, which is a charity taking kids out of the largest slum in Africa, called Kibera in Nairobi. So there are a lot of opportunities for people to get immersed in experiential travel and community involvement in Africa.

We are involved with a variety of initiatives saving and protecting wildlife including Rhinos Without Borders and Cause An Uproar. There are a lot of projects we are involved with and it continues to be among our top priorities to put back into the places we visit, as it has been for more than 20 years.


Can you give us the scoop on anything new coming up?

I spend a lot of time visiting new areas and developments. We are starting to see Africa almost dividing into two, it’s either ultra-luxury or more traditional. Lodges are going back to where they were 10 years ago when they were a lot less expensive and there’s a growing demand for that.

The future will be visitors getting involved in communities and we are also seeing a big growth in walking, cycling and horse-back riding safaris, as well as multi-generational travel.

The feedback we get from grandparents is that they want their grandkids to get out there and actually see the real world and what real life is about – and Africa is the perfect place for that. It’s life-changing for them.


Written by: Richard Ruskin as told to Jon Underwood
Published: 13 March 2019

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