Journeysmiths - Our Tribe - We Are... | Ultimate Safaris
Our Journeysmiths are considered to be leading authorities on travel to Namibia, and they have over 300 years of relevant experience between them. From the onset, great importance is attached to identifying specific expectations and requirements and including these in the arrangements made, thus ensuring seamless and very memorable safari experiences. Facilitated by intelligent, insider knowledge and a little black book of private contacts, our safari specialists smooth out the creases to remove the complexities of a Namibian safari, ensuring all aspects of any given safari are artfully tied together. Keeping on the cutting edge of what is new is a priority at Ultimate Safaris and, as a result, you are assured of a safari that makes use of the best possible options available.
Alfons has always had a
passion for the open road, keen to get away from the hustle and bustle of city
life. He travelled regularly to a family farm in the Erongo region of Namibia during
his school holidays, and this started his love for nature. At much the same
time he saw the pictures that a friend had taken during a tour he had just
completed and knew immediately that he wanted to work in the tourism industry. He
therefore completed a diploma in Travel and Tourism and went on to work for
three years at Canon Lodge in the Fish River Canyon. He was then offered a fully
paid scholarship by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) to study at the
Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality (NATH), where he obtained his Level
3 National tour guide qualification, graduating at the top of his class. He
did his guide internship at Wolwedans on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve and from
there came to join Ultimate Safaris as a trainee guide.
During this time, his
true ability became apparent as he showed great potential as a tour consultant.
He was always willing to assist, determined to do every task as well as he
could, and meticulous with his planning and administration. When added to a
friendly and positive demeanor and a willingness to take responsibility for
what he was doing, he quickly established himself as a valued member the Windhoek
office. He spent several years learning the trade under the direct supervision
of the company directors but then progressed swiftly to become an independent consultant
and then a senior consultant who now also supervises others. The knowledge and
experience he has gathered over the years during his travels around Namibia
means that he has the understanding of his home country that allows him to
prepare the ideal safari.Alfons still
regards the Canon Lodge his favorite place in Namibia and visits it any chance
he can get– after all, it is where he got his first employment and where he started
his career in the tourism Industry, so it will always be his first love.
How did your journey start in Tourism:During my final year of high school, I attended a career fair at which
various companies and universities had displays of possible career paths to
follow. This is where I discovered the existence of the tourism industry and
decided to change my career path from Accounting to Tourism. Within a year, I
was enrolled as a Tourism Management student at NUST and studying towards a
bachelor's degree. Before graduating from NUST, I applied for the Disney
Cultural Representative programme and was provided with the opportunity to work
at Walt Disney World for a year and that is when my career in tourism really
took off. After that year I returned, graduated, and was off to work in the
United States for another 6 months as an intern at a 4-star hotel which is part
of the Marriott Autograph Collection. Upon returning to Namibia, I started off
at the Cheetah Conservation Fund and about a year and few months after, started
working with the Ultimate Safaris Tribe.
Personal interests:Reading, music and travel.
Why I enjoy working at Ultimate Safaris:Ultimate Safaris has an organized, creative and
unique way of doing things- I like that. They are thoughtful and consider every
aspect of the guests travel experience while in Namibia. Their dedication and
contribution to conservation is inspiring, making it one of the reasons I chose
to work here.
Which is your favorite destination in Namibia and why?So far, I don’t have a favorite destination in
Namibia because I believe that every destination in Namibia has something
unique to offer (whether it is wildlife or scenery) that makes it special and
worth visiting. I would like to see them all every single time!
Anna was born in Angola and was raised in
the former East Germany. The first time
she ever went on an aircraft was on the life changing journey moving from
Angola to Germany as a child, and she was inspired by the air hostesses and wanted
to be one when she grew up. This dream came true in 2004 when she was recruited
by Air Namibia. During her 5 years of flying with the airline she spent time in
Germany, the UK, Angola, Ghana and all over South Africa. A passenger asked her one day what she would
recommend for when he visited in Namibia and then the realization dawned on her
that she didn’t know Namibia at all even though it had been her home since her
teens. She had only visited Swakopmund and Owamboland, the home to her parents
& grandparents. She therefore changed her career direction and became a
travel consultant, determined to continue her passion for travel and meeting
new people, but also taking the opportunity to explore her home.
Anna started working with Wilderness
Safaris and then moved to Ultimate Safaris where she has become a specialist in
all Namibian safaris, including designing and planning self-drives, guided and
fly in safaris for FIT’s and small groups. She has now travelled widely and
been to Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland, Opuwo, Etosha and parts of
the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but the Namib Rand Nature Reserve remains her
favourite place - every time she visits the Namib Rand, it takes her breath
away so it is definitely her place to ‘get away from it all’. Anna has shown
that strong determination will open up opportunities to work in your dream
job. She loves designing people’s
holidays and being an ambassador for her beautiful country, while still having
a lot of fun. She is a huge fan of the National Geographic channel and could
spend hours entranced watching it, and one of her favourite quotes is by Bo
Bennett: “Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done
rather than saying it cannot be done.”
Birgit is a fourth generation Namibian, of
German descent, and she has worked in the Namibian tourism sector for nearly
two decades. As a result, she has visited more than 400 lodges, camps and hotels
throughout the country, and she is one of the most passionate Namibians in the
industry. She works on introducing Ultimate Safaris and its products to
operators based overseas, and then following that up with detailed information
and suggestions concerning how we can best work together. She then remains
involved while the business relationship is established and nurtured, and also
remains on call to assist when needed even after her own direct role of
introduction has been completed. In addition to her travels in Namibia, she has
also enjoyed many safaris to the Okavango Delta, got soaked by the Victoria
Falls, and regularly travels to South Africa for work and pleasure.
Birgit has worked in marketing for most of her
career, so she has travelled extensively, including sales trips to the UK,
Germany, Holland, and the US where she particularly loves the west coast. While she enjoys the pulsating vibe of big
city life, she prefers her soul to be rejuvenated in her favourite place of
Namibia, the northwest of Namibia. Any of the ephemeral river systems, the
purple pink colours of the Damaraland and especially the wild isolation of the
Kunene region is where her seemingly inexhaustible positive energy gets it’s
much needed recharge. In addition to her
main role, she also served on the TASA board for several years and is fiercely
committed to promote Namibia continuously as a safe, unique and pioneering
How did your journey start in Tourism: I
got my first taste of the tourism industry in 2011 when I helped my older
sister to run her company as a holiday job. I studied Travel &
Tourism at the Namibian University of Science and Technology, and I completed
my internship at Nature Friend Safaris where I picked up a good grounding of
tourism operations and philosophy.
After that, I joined Ultimate Safaris as a receptionist and by my
bright personality and obvious potential, I quickly got promoted to
Journeysmith, and I have become an integral part of the tribe, always eager to
help and learn. I now co-ordinate the very successful Ultimate Namibia Safari
and Namibia Under Canvas programmes.
Personal interests: Travelling, reading, and
spending time with family and friends.
Why I enjoy working at Ultimate Safaris: The
Ultimate tribe makes you feel like a family, its family away from home.
Which is your favorite destination in Namibia and why? My favorite part of Namibia is Damaraland because of its
amazingly diverse colors and landscapes.
Colleen has always had a
great interest in wildlife and travel, especially birding and discovering the
little things in the bush. Added to this, she lives in a perfect country to
develop her passion for photography, which is why Wolwedans remains her
favourite spot in Namibia as this magical place makes it impossible to take an
ugly photo.Namibian born, she started
her tourism career in South Africa with three years in retail travel and then
worked for over thirteen years at &Beyond, five of which were at a lodge in
the Sabi Sands.She then moved back to
Namibia and has been with Ultimate Safaris since that time and is happy to be
somewhere she can continue to indulge in her passion for the bush and work with
people who share that interest.Colleen
herself has explored much of Namibia and South Africa as well as visiting Botswana,
Victoria Falls, Zanzibar, Kenya/Diani Beach and most of the &Beyond East
African lodges. She has also ventured to places beyond Southern Africa,
including Thailand and Singapore, Australia (for the 2000 Olympics), London and
many countries in Europe.
Colleen’s attention to
detail is consummate, and she’s dedicated to using her extensive knowledge from
her own experiences to put together truly life enriching journeys for others.Her enjoyment for people and traveling and her
highly guest orientated personality combine well to ensure her trip planning
guarantees a great experience for our guests. Her personal motto is : “Working hard for something we don’t care
about is called stress – working hard for something we love is called passion.”
Gaynor Van Der Westhuizen
How did your journey start in
Tourism: My life path and decisions steered me into tourism,
where I realized that I am good with working with people, wanting to make a
difference in someone’s life and contribute to the local wildlife and cultural
care. I did my research on the industry, obtaining my degree in Tourism
Management in 2019 and since then my passion and interest has grown and still
grows to this day.
Personal interests: Fur babies, especially dogs. Music of all genres. Freelance dancer.
Why I enjoy working at Ultimate Safaris: Ultimate Safaris has a dynamic group of people, from different
backgrounds and that gives one a sense of comfortability and belonging.
Ultimate Safaris holds conservation close to their
hearts, where all their projects really make a difference. And what it amazing
is that we all play a part in it; from housekeeping, sales team, operations,
procurement and accounts, and thus why it is truly special to work here.
Which is your favorite destination in Namibia and why? The first time I visited Damaraland, it called to my heart and soul.
From the scenery of geographical change to the desert adapted wildlife. I am
yet to experience the more destinations of our beautiful country but for now
this is the one for me.
How did your journey start in
Tourism: My journey in the tourism industry dates back to
2018 when a young girl still pursuing her career in university decided to place
her studies on part time in order to look for a job and make some money whilst
studying. At the time I had zero idea of how beautiful Namibia is and Africa at
large but I would always hear my big brother tell me about his experience
through his guiding job. So, I than landed myself a job in a tour operator as a
reservation’s agent, working with people is an art I keep mastering but
creating dream holidays for people that for me was crazy at the time.
So, I than was behind the scenes of designing guests
dream holidays in the process I began to learn about my own country through
research, pictures, and presentations at large and so my love for tourism began
to a point that I promised myself to tour around Namibia and Africa at large.
Thus far through the love I developed during my exposure in the tourism
industry I managed to travel to South Africa, Botswana and Angola and still
counting. I am yet to travel Namibia flat regardless of the industry I will
find myself in one day the passion has been established and it shall live with
me forever and travelling will never cease from my heart.
Personal interests: Baking, Reading the
word (Bible), books, dancing, listening to music & podcasts, spending time
with my family and hosting events.
Why I enjoy working at Ultimate Safaris: Working with people from different backgrounds and personalities, and
the passion to enrich lives through the journeys they offer, is a privilege to
be a part of such a team & lastly Ultimate
Safaris holds conservation close to their hearts and what better way than being
a part of such a prestigious company.
Which is your favorite destination in Namibia and why? IHaven’t travelled Namibia yet (at least not the places I want
to visit) but from the work I do Sossuvlei is my favorite and part of my bucket
list because of its beautiful scenery and the red dunes.
Swenja de Vos
ever really thought about venturing into the tourism industry as a possible
career option until she did a short stint after school working as receptionist
at a tour operator. This quickly ignited an enthusiasm to make tourism her
chosen calling and she started to develop a career in the industry in 2007,
going on to specialize in arranging self-drive FIT tours. She
believes tourism is now exactly where she belongs and, as a Namibian, she loves
nothing more than being able to present her lovely country, with its amazing
landscape and wildlife, to the rest of the world. Etosha National Park is her
favourite place in Namibia as this is where her she found her passion and
started a love affair with elephants which was ignited when she had her first
encounter with a baby elephant playing at a waterhole while her mother was
travelled to most areas in Namibia, apart from the Kaokoland and the Fish River
Canyon which she’s planning to visit as soon as she can. She has also explored
parts the Okavango Delta in Botswana, as well as visiting Victoria Falls. Swenja
is often called “Smiley” because she smiles and laughs a lot, having fun whilst
being highly driven to offer nothing but the best service to her clients. She
is very determined and extremely conscientious, and she almost always manages
to maintain that heart-warming smile.
How did your journey start in
Tourism:I grew up in Namibia, travelling the country with
my family every chance we got, and after I graduated from school, I had no idea
what I wanted to do with my life or my career and so I saw great opportunity to
do a course in Marine and Coastal Tour Guiding along the east coast of South
Africa for my gap year. Diving, snorkeling and hiking – it was incredible!
Some months down the line, I had my Marine FGASA qualification
and fell in love with tourism, the ocean and sharing information about nature
and all it’s secrets.
I moved back to Namibia to rejoin my family and
with a wealth of knowledge of Namibia from personal experience, as well as
having a guiding qualification behind me, I decided to share our special
country with the rest of the world.
Personal interests:Conservation initiatives and projects, yoga, hiking, birding and
Why I enjoy working at Ultimate Safaris: Working at Ultimate Safaris means working with a variety of unique and
special individuals with whom you’d never encounter on a normal basis. People
that become family – become a tribe and share a passion unmeasurable to anyone for
tourism and for the conservation of some of the most pristine wilderness areas
We are dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life of the
communities who live in and around pristine areas, and have a registered
non-profit organization called the Conservation Travel Foundation which
supports these ideals.
Our tribe has a deep understanding of all the areas in which we operate
and we endorse responsible tourism principles that support and promote
conservation and development initiatives.
Being part of Ultimate Safaris gives me a sense of accomplishment,
giving back, and knowing that what we do doesn’t only benefit us, it benefits
Which is your favorite destination in Namibia and why?I love every part of Namibia – every area boasting something unique and
special that you can’t find elsewhere. To choose one single destination is
truly a tough one, but I find myself gravitating towards the NamibRand Nature
Reserve – home to the oldest desert in the world and also known as the ‘dark
sky reserve’ where the sky at night is so spectacular and so vast that you suddenly
have this feeling that we are but a mere spot in the universe.
I have visited NamibRand more times than I can count, and I never get
tired of the stunning dunes, the incredible survival and thriving flora and
fauna in the middle of the desert. My absolute favourite part is the start and
end to a new day – the colours as the sun rises or sets are so different every
day, so magical and so special to witness. Serenity.
Life Enriching Journeys
Ultimate Safaris is privileged to be able to operate in pristine wilderness areas. We believe that the future of the environment and the natural inhabitants of these regions lies in the hands of the communities living there, and that this means they must be involved in the custodianship of their surroundings. The Conservation Travel Foundation is Ultimate Safaris’ registered non-profit organisation and it fully supports these ideals.