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About Out in Africa Tours

Thorough, knowledgeable  and involved in Africa

Doing business in Africa is not like in your part of the world. As a traveller you cannot simply assume  things work the way they do at home. There are big cultural differences which can lead to problems you want to avoid - especially while on holiday:  worries, irritations and financial and sometimes even physical damage. Besides cultural differences you may encounter fly-by-night and even fraudulent  businesses offering their services. Anyone can call themselves a travel agent  or tour operator – only a few belong to the tourism association. There is no compulsory  financial bonding scheme. As a consumer you have very little protection. Even tour operators and travel agents operating for years sometimes collapse completely unexpectedly or they “cannot be reached” when there are problems.

On the other hand it is also true that the best way to get to know a country is through the locals. People who were born and bred there, attached heart and soul to their country and (especially) who know what  you should do and see as well as what you shouldn’t .  We have done this for nearly two decades  to the satisfaction of thousands of clients. Out in Africa is fully bonded with SATSA, so your monies are secure. 

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Short lines of communication

We favour direct contact with you as our client - but also with our partners in Africa.  We prefer working with destinations themselves instead of via a middleman. That means more work for us but the direct  contact results in better holidays.  We know many of our partners personally. This includes not only the well-known  tour operators and destinations, but also owners of small farm stays and Bed & Breakfasts with no international marketing representation where you, as a client of Out in Africa Tours, will be received with open arms. In East Africa we do work with intermediaries. We have put much time into finding and building up these contacts and now have trustworthy and efficient partner organizations in Arusha and Nairobi. That we ourselves are almost “local” has certainly helped. In East  Africa tourism is a very important source of income and yet the fact is that many of the local tour operations are controlled by foreigners. Of course these businesses provide employment for locals but we purposely choose partner organizations owned by Tanzanians/ Kenyans so that all income remains in the country.

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Man & Nature

Here we can  be brief. Our own commitment to Africa  means that wherever possible we automatically choose destinations and organizations that take account of both Man and Nature. We are convinced that only sustainable tourism will contribute to the long-term welfare of our beloved  Africa. And that’s how we have always worked. Luckily, it is now a commitment shared by many of our colleagues in tourism. 

  

Out in Africa is involved in a school project,  known formally as the Northern Drakensberg Upliftment Programme. The Northern Drakensberg, a scenic but economically deprived mountain area in the KwaZulu-Natal province, is home to Ross and Annelieke, the owners of Out in Africa Tours. For clients who have visited the area: this is the valley where you find e.g. Montusi Mountain Lodge, The Cavern Berg Resort, Sungubala Mountain Camp and Royal Natal National Park (nearest  town: Bergville). Ross and Annelieke know many people in the area, including those who started the program as well as the parents and children who benefit from it. Through their  frequent visits they are also able to keep an eye on the effectiveness of the program. They support and advise those who took this on and help with fund raising. Besides confidence in those running the program, another reason to support this program is the fact that all funds are used directly for local charity - there are no overheads, staff costs, office costs, etc. The  efforts of all those involved are completely without remuneration. An extensive network already exists of  local businesses and private persons who want to help this area but foreign support  is more than necessary. Find out more? Click here. Click here for the photo book of the school project.

 

  


Forthright and about content

Not only do we have an extensive offering,  but we also have an opinion about what is on offer.  If we believe a destination is too expensive for what it offers, then we say so - even if we stand to earn more from such a destination than a cheaper one. And if we believe you are going to miss too much by choosing for a basic destination, then we say so too. “Value for money” - whether  for more expensive or cheaper destinations - is paramount. Clients also tell us that we are original and flexible and present solutions and combinations they haven’t encountered elsewhere.  

      

If you don’t like reading about Africa, then you had better not book with us. Our tailor-made proposals are among the most extensive around. For self-drive holidays and all holidays in East Africa you will receive an offer with a detailed description of the trip: flight schedules, transport, accommodation, the sights, costs. But also important information which we believe you should know before deciding where to book, for instance about car hire (eg. the costs of crossing borders, one-way fees etc) and insurance options etc.  And later, together with the invoice, you will receive the whole story again plus relevant brochures plus our Travel Information flyer for the countries you will be visiting. This contains information about health, passports, visas, money, tipping, clothing advice, electricity, tips for travellers with children and for self-drives in Africa, what (not) to do on safari, about beggars, parking etc.etc. Two weeks before departure you will receive the Travel Documents: your itinerary for the third time, now complete with telephone numbers and route descriptions/directions, plus all your travel documents (tickets, vouchers etc). So with  you get a lot of information and you get it before you depart  – not after you arrive. In this way you can prepare properly and refer any questions to us (by telephone or e-mail) and not only when you get there after a long flight and are already faced with so many new impressions.


  

History

Okay, what about  the owners? Let’s start at the very beginning: on 5 July 1850 six-year old Bessie McLeod was washed up on to the beach near Port Natal, now Durban, in South Africa. Together with her parents, brothers and sisters, she was on her way from England to the British colony of Natal, destination the Byrne Valley (near Richmond). Through a navigation error, their ship, the Minerva, sunk shortly before reaching her destination. Luckily, it sank close to the coast so that all who sailed on her could be saved. But unfortunately not their possessions. Completely destitute  they trekked inland  together with their fellow settlers. Wrongly informed by swindlers in England, originally middle class townsfolk with no knowledge of farming or about the wild Natal country, they faced a life of hardship full of dangers and disappointments. But with the famous English stiff upper lip, they held on and Bessie and her six surviving brothers and sisters head up an impressive line of descendants. Bessie’s great-great grandson is Ross Aitken.

 

  

Ross met his Dutch wife, Annelieke Zonne, in the 1980’s in the student life of London. London was then a centre for thousands of South Africans in exile, whether self-imposed or not. This was one of the worst periods in the turbulent history of South Africa. The Apartheid government made no sign of  changing. Gross injustice, oppression and violence were the order of the day, the economy was in deep depression (partly from international sanctions), and South Africa was involved in dark military adventures deep into Africa. Resistance from South Africans both inside and outside the country, increasing pressure from the international community and the vision of a new generation of leaders prepared to compromise culminated in April 1994 in the first democratic elections in South Africa. The mood was euphoric and the time was finally ripe to show off this beautiful and multi-faceted country to as many visitors as possible. No longer obstructed by moral issues, at the end of 1994, Ross and Annelieke together started up Out in Africa Tours. Since that historic election year,  the South Africans have been determinedly progressing  towards removing the enormous economic and social ills, mostly inherited from the Apartheid system. There has been much progress but other problems are cause for concern, including completely new ones (such as HIV/AIDS). What is a success story is the growing tourism to Africa. And you couldn’t really expect anything else, if you consider the variety of  landscapes, spectacular wildlife, interesting peoples and the great climate! 


  

Out in Africa has over the years changed, and then again, it has not. What has changed is that we have grown into a real Africa specialist well established, financially secure and with a solid reputation. We now organize holidays to a dozen African countries. What has not changed is our passion for and involvement in our wonderful continent. Our purpose was and is to run a solid business that professionally organizes fun, interesting, responsible and unforgettable holidays for its clients, and at the same time contributes to nature conservation in Africa and the welfare of its inhabitants.