OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN SOUTH AFRICA
Africa Direct is owned and run by two passionate wildlife enthusiasts who have collectively worked in the conservation and tourism industry for over twenty years. Although we utilise every facet of what the hospitality industry in Southern Africa has to offer, we specialise in top class safari experiences!
As well as being part of the tour operating team at Africa Direct, where he is famous for planning spectacular journeys around Africa, Mike Karantonis heads up the Specialist Safari division. He is a specialist game ranger that has been guiding for 15 years in all parts of Africa and is now dedicated to privately hosting safari tours around Africa with his guests.
He was based at Phinda Private Game Reserve as a Specialist Ranger for CCAfrica/andbeyond until the end of 2008. Mike, his wife Lisa, and their two young children, Kira and Josh, now live in White River, a mere hour's drive from their beloved Kruger National Park, which is where you can find the whole family during any vacation time!
Mike has wanted to be a game ranger since the age of eight! After school he obtained a prestige diploma in game ranging and private lodge management. He slowly worked his way through the ranks and qualifications and after four years’ of guiding he was appointed Head Ranger of Phinda Forest and Vlei lodges. His qualifications also include being a trails guide, bird guide, canoe guide, evaluator, mentor and trainer for the CCAfrica/andbeyond group. Mike also has FGASA qualifications. Some of the Specialist Safaris that Mike conducts are leopard research, white rhino darting, photographic safaris, specialist birding safaris, big cat safaris, predator safaris, bush skills and 7 wonders in 7 days (Phinda only). He won the Munyawana Ranger of the Year award in 2004 and the CCAfrica Ranger of the Year award in 2007. These prestigious awards of course made him the CC Africa/andbeyond Ranger of choice to conduct the safaris of any high profile clients. He has also had a long standing relationship with the local community hence his in-depth involvement with the communities.
Mike has also experienced parts of East Africa such as Kenya and Tanzania, exploring the wonders of the great migration and the magnificence of Ngorogoro Crater. He has conducted ranger training at Matetsi in Zimbabwe and at Sossusvlei in Namibia. One of his favorite pastimes, is enjoying sundowner drinks on the banks of the Khwai River in Botswana…..
Mike has recently been sponsored by Nikon SA to be an ambassador for the brand because of his photography and passion for the industry of guiding.
Whether you want to specialise in photography, birds, habitats, animal behaviour or even just spend quality time at one sighting, this all becomes an option with having a specialist ranger privately hosting you on your safari!
a Tour Operator has vast experience of personally visiting hundreds of lodges and hotels in order to be able to sell top quality products with confidence because of the fact that one cannot believe everything on the web or from what you see in a brochure. This dedicated approach of quality assurance has earned her the respect and regular return business in organising top quality, fun, value for money and perfectly balanced visits to Southern Africa.
After completing her honours degree in Sociology, Tanya soon realised that it was time to follow her heart, and become part of Africa's growing tourism industry. To her there is nothing as special as the African Bush with its unique fauna and flora, and to say that she is passionate about Africa's Big 5 would be an understatement! She has personally visited more than 50 of Africa's "Big 5" lodges during the past few years. There is no one with more personal experiences of luxury game lodges in South Africa than her. Tanya is a very keen birder - with her personal list exceeding 600. Her husband, Hilton, is an award winning wildlife photographer, and Tanya has arranged numerous wildlife photographic safaris for numerous clients wishing to capture that perfect shot!
Tanya believes in tailor making every itinerary according to every client's specific needs. Most people travel a very long way to get to Africa, and she believes in giving priority to your specific needs and interests, to ensure that your vacation is the best it could possibly be! Contact Tanya today, so that she can start tailor making your vacation of a lifetime!
After spending a couple of years abroad, Eloise knew one thing for sure: THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE AFRICA! Eloise, her husband Francois and their two sons recently moved to the beautiful town of White River, on the doorsteps of the Kruger National Park.
She has been passionate about the safari and travel industry for the past 15 years and has been fortunate to visit a large majority of the top safari lodges and other accommodation establishments in Africa. She has joined the Africa Direct team as a wedding planner and tour operator. With her husband being a professional wedding photographer, she has a deep understanding of the intricacies through experience, of what it takes to create the perfect wedding. Her love for the bush and planning of safaris, weddings and honeymoon journeys are two of Eloise’s great passions in life and Africa Direct has brought these two together.
Eloise takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm and always sees to it that all her guests have the perfect once in a life time tailor-made experience. The fact that she loves what she does is strongly evident in her work and her immaculate attention to detail places her head and shoulders above most other tour operators.
Contact Eloise today and start planning that trip of a lifetime to Africa!
Marc Lindsay-Rea, who is from the little town of Empangeni in the Kwa Zulu Natal area of South Africa, already has extensive experience in the African bush. This allows him to be a professional in both tour operating and field guiding divisions.
When he was 11 his father went on a business trip to Phinda Private game reserve and returned home with a brochure of the Company CC Africa. Marc was amazed by the images and quality of the lodges. From that day on he knew he wanted to work in the bush and become a Game Ranger. So it was a natural choice for him to do a Game Ranging and Lodge Management Diploma after school, which he passed with an overall distinction.
After completing his studies, Marc approached And Beyond and passed their selection phase and relevant training and was offered a job at Madikwe Safari Lodge, in Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province. Since starting his guiding career in early in 2006, he has steadily climbed the ranks becoming a senior ranger, mentor, assistant head ranger and was then appointed as head ranger in October 2008. Marc was one of the youngest head rangers the company had ever had over the previous 21 years. In 2009 he won the overall And Beyond employee of the year for Madikwe Safari Lodge and then in 2010 won the overall Best employee for Andbeyond Madikwe Safari Lodge for the period 2004-2010. For most of 2011 he spent his time working in Namibia at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. Marc also spent time working in Botswana at Nxabega and Sandibe lodge in the Okavango delta for AndBeyond. In 2012 whilst working as a ranger and a specialist guide at Phinda Game Reserve he was nominated by his peers to compete in the Safari Guide of the year 2012 Competition. Marc made it into the top 8 rangers in the country and in the finals he won 2 out of the 6 categories they were all being assessed on. Marc has completed his Fgasa(Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) level 3, which is the highest guiding qualification in South Africa and has also recieved his Fgasa level 2 trackers qualification. Marc also has his full trails guide walking qualification with hundreds of hours of walking experience and dangerous game encounters on foot. This is one of his favourite ways of experiencing the bush and encourages all his guests to do tracking big game on foot with him.
In addition to the bush Marc also has a massive passion for wildlife photography. He has been placed first and third in two international competitions: Africa Geographic / Canon Field Guides Competition and Wildside Nikon All Africa Competition respectively. Davland Calendars and Art publishers have also purchased some of his images to include in their 2012/2013 calendars of wildlife in action, which is sold internationally. Marc also received a highly commended in the Fuji film awards for 2012 for the category People in Nature. Marc’s Rhino images have also been used in Anti-poaching campaigns across the globe and he has also just been made a featured photographer for Getaway magazine. Marc’s great understanding and interpretive skills of animal’s movement through the bush have gotten him into the best position to capture these world class images. When he picks up his my camera his mind clicks over into a natural artistic mode and he looks at scenes and subjects in a completely different way to non- photographers. His mind analyses the light, terrain, positioning and composure of the subject to make it work to his and his guests every advantage. Marc’s goal is to be able to leave the sighting knowing that he and his guests got the best pictures they could have for the circumstances.He has travelled to a large number of countries around the globe but for him, nothing compares to the excitement of travelling Africa. He is a very serious birder, and his love for birding has allowed him to explore the remotest parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia looking for all the special rarities. As a result he has extensive knowledge of these regions and can lead specialist birding tours into these area’s to look for some of the hardest birds to find in Southern Africa. Marc is an exceptionally outgoing person with an immense passion for the bush. With a great sense of humor, interpretative skills and understanding of guest’s personalities and needs, he continues to achieve faultless feedback.Marc has such a thirst for acquiring knowledge about wildlife and nature from all around the world and feels lucky to have had the privilege of guiding guests through these exciting places.
Our External, Private & Specialist Guides
Hilton, Brendon and Andrew are three guides who Africa Direct externally outsource to conduct photographic safaris for our clients from time to time. They are from an excellent independent company called Africa Photographic Services http://www.africaphotographicservices.com/. They are professional, highly knowledgeable and are exceptional photographers with many years’ experience.
Hilton Kotze is a dynamic wildlife and sports photographer, with an exceptional passion for Africa and its wildlife. His 12 years of experience in the bush, love of people and his ability to share his knowledge make him a very successful photographic host.
Hilton has had the great fortune to travel to some of the most remote and sought after wildlife and photographic destinations in Southern and East Africa including, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, these travels have enabled him to capture some of the most special moments nature has to offer.
Hilton’s immediate background is in the Health and fitness industry; here he uses his love of people, great personality and fantastic communication skills to help people from all walks of life to live a better life. It is these very attributes that make Hilton a great photographic host, together with his ever growing love and passion for nature and wildlife and his wealth of photographic knowledge, Hilton is able to assist his guests to seize the moment and capture creative, unique and exciting images while growing their own passion for nature and photography. Hilton is also very familiar with both major brands of equipment, Nikon & Canon and is able to assist with both. When Hilton isn’t chasing those magical bush moments or hosting photographic safaris, he is busy capturing our sporting hero’s making history in various sporting events.
Brendon Cremer was born and raised in Zimbabwe. He was exposed to wildlife and the outdoors form a young age, he could hardly be kept indoors, nature already had a big place in his heart and life. Brendon went to school a Peter House in Zimbabwe, where he built on his passion for nature, he was involved in and eventually headed up the Falconry club as well as being very much involved in the conservation and research of the school own game reserve. Brendon work in the Kariba area and in Matusadona national park during his school holidays, building on his knowledge of wildlife.
After Brendon completed his school he went to work in Matusadona National Park where he studied all aspects of wildlife and the African bush, from plants to insects, birds and mammals. After completing his apprenticeship and qualifying a Professional guide Brendon worked for a company that conducted walking trails in the Matusadona National Park, tracking and stalking big game and learning animal behaviour was a big aspect of his day to day activities. After spending a few years guiding in some well-known areas and reserves in Zimbabwe such as Mana Pools National Park, lower Zambezi and Hwange National Park as well as in Zambia and Botswana, Brendon eventually settled in Victoria falls where he worked in the Kazangula area along the Upper Zambezi and in Chobe National Park, conducting big game walking trails as well as birding and fishing safaris. It was here that Brendon started his photographic obsession, never wasting any opportunity to be out photographing
On the onset of political strife and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy Brendon returned to his families native land South Africa. Here he met his lovely wife Michelle. Brendon and his wife went to work as a Lodge managers in the world renowned Sabi sand game reserve, Brendon spent 4 years in the game reserve capturing on camera everything the reserve has to offer, but paid special and close attention to the big cats of the reserve, Brendon has an extensive knowledge and understanding of big cats, their habits, and habitats and is one of Brendon's big passions.
Today after spending 13 years in the bush, Brendon is an adventurer, conservationist, photographic host and wildlife photographer, based in Nelspruit. On the safaris that Brendon hosts and through his passion for photography and wildlife together with his profound knowledge, deep respect and understanding for Africa and its wildlife, Brendon’s guests not only enhance their photography, but also gain a lifelong admiration for Africa’s wildlife and culture. Predicting animal behaviour is essential to 'getting the shot' as Brendon often proves and he always does his best to get his guests in to the right position for that magical shot. Brendon is familiar with both the Nikon and Canon Brands so is able to assist with both.
Andrew Schoeman is an avid and dedicated wildlife photographer based in Nelspruit. Andrew grew up in the Nelspruit area and spent as much time as possible on the family game farm where he developed his passion for wildlife and nature. As this passion grew it was inevitable that Andrew would end up working permanently in the Bush, and subsequently together with his wife Nicoline spent 12 years working as ranger ,photographic guide, and management at lodges around Southern and East Africa including 4 ½ years in the world famous Sabi Sand game reserve at Exiter Game Lodges, 2 years in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park at Kleins Camp with &Beyond and 1 year in the well know Okavango Delta in Botswana at Xaranna Tented Camp. During Andrew and Nicolines off time away from the lodges they spent their time camping and travelling to some of Africas greatest wildlife and photographic destinations such as visiting the Gorillas in Ruanda and Uganda, exploring Zanzibar, the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake manyara, the Masai Mara, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Andrew has attained the highest level of guiding qualifications in South Africa, he was appointed as the official photographic guide for &Beyond in East Africa and Botswana where he hosted and assisted many guests with their photography. Andrew is passionate about wildlife, birding and Photography , his knowledge of animal and bird behavior together with his technical photographic knowhow is immense and has been put this to good use while capturing some amazing and memorable wildlife images across Africa
OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN GERMANY
Nicole Justus is heading up the European Agency of Africa Direct. After finishing her degree on Landscape Architecture and adding a business specialist degree she moved with her family to the USA. During her years in the U.S.A she made numerous self organized trips through the U.S.A and Canada.
As the next step, she and her husband, Markus, moved to South Africa and lived there for several years. During this time, Nicole continued to organize different trips, partly already dealing with Africa Direct, to discover South Africa and Botswana. After those trips she got infected with the ‘Virus’ called Africa and now truly loves the country and its’ people! Nicole has also become an enthusiastic semi-professional photographer.
The experiences in the African bush were unique and the endless variety of animals and birds in Africa continue to amaze her. In Europe most of the African animals are only known to Europeans from watching wildlife documentaries or visiting the zoo. How different is the experience if a lion or an elephant approaches without a fence in-between! Sitting on an open off-road game viewing vehicle, one gets such a huge adrenaline rush when looking into the eyes of a lion or the car nearly gets touched by the trunk of an elephant. It is a very unique experience and we hope to enable as many people as possible to share in this amazing experience!
Based on the very positive experiences with Africa Direct in organizing her private trips through Africa, Nicole decided to open up an European Agency of Africa Direct after her return to Germany over ten years ago. Since then she visited several African countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and ,of course, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Based on these experiences she is well-equipped to organize the perfect, customized trips for each client.
OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN THE USA
Dianne Williams heads up Africa Direct USA. Personally and professionally, she has tremendous experience in logistics, planning, and customer service.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked as a Software Trainer and Onsite Consultant for a large financial software company. Looking for a challenge of a different sort, she left the corporate world after 11 years to open a successful gourmet coffee shop in a metro west suburb of Boston. Her husband’s career then moved the family overseas. In their years living abroad, Dianne planned numerous trips for her friends and family all over the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa. It was during this time that she developed a love for travel and for cultural exposure. She took pride in finding the lesser known places to visit or accommodations that brought her family closer to a more authentic experience. Many trips included a humanitarian aspect as well.
Upon returning to the USA, she continued her love for travel and planned trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos, Thailand, Morocco and further safaris to South Africa and Kenya. She planned many of her safaris with the expert assistance of Tanya Kotzke of Africa Direct as well as utilized the services of Specialist Ranger Mike Karantonis, both of which have now become good friends and encouraged her to serve as their US Safari Agent.
Dianne and her family are hooked on the safari experience and absolutely love the bush! There is nothing that can compare to the experience of sitting in the presence of such amazing animals. To say that it’s a moving experience is an understatement!
Dianne looks forward to combining her expertise working with customers, multi-tasking, and logistics with her incredible love for travel in her role as the US Safari Agent for Africa Direct. She hopes to inspire more people to visit Africa and wants to help plan your journey of a lifetime. She will present options as to where to go and what lodges best suit you and your family based upon your interests, needs and budget. With the support and expertise from the head office in South Africa, you can be confident and rest assured that your trip would be a dream come true!
We have found the secret recipe for making the most unforgettable safari experience and we would love to share it with you by trusting in us to look after all your planning and safari requirements!