A family safari to Zambia in 1991 kick-started my love for the continent and its wildlife – I returned, first for four months in Zimbabwe after my A levels, and every year until I gave up the call of the City and decamped to Zambia to train as a guide. A hidden corner of South Luangwa became my home, where I ran a tiny bushcamp and became involved in various game management projects, as well as introducing my guests to the bush and all the secrets it hides. I have returned nearly every year since. Zambia’s guides are the best of the best, and it’s their infectious enthusiasm that has brought me back year after year.
I returned to the UK to work in the travel industry, which has given me some incredible opportunities – in over forty trips back to Africa (so far!) I have travelled extensively through Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Madagascar and Malawi and have just returned from a spectacular exploration of Tanzania – a long held dream of mine.
Favourite places I've been
Lower Zambezi, Zambia – elephating elephants (standing on their hind legs to reach the topmost branches of trees) and tiny lion cubs
Perinet, Madagascar – the haunting call of the indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, in the early morning is not to be missed
South Luangwa, Zambia – the best guiding I have ever experienced in magical remote surroundings
Sossusvlei, Namibia – the bright orange dunes, just begging to be scrambled up!
Manafiafy Camp, Madagascar – sundowners on the high granite rocks with enormous waves breaking all around us before a night lemur walk
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana – watching the sun set and the moon rise over the vastness of the pans
Likoma Island, Lake Malawi – superb diving in crystal clear waters
North Luangwa, Zambia – the wildest park I have ever visited, our walk ended up tracking two male lions through the bush – exciting!
Okavango Delta, Botswana – nothing quite like drifting through the delta’s narrow channels in the early morning, the waters so clear you can see straight through to the bottom!
Nyika Plateau, Malawi – An amazing landscape, almost lunar, a little Scottish, but with herds of eland and zebra dotted around!
Northern Serengeti, Tanania – rolling grass plains dotted with rocky kopjes just begging to be climbed – and of course the breathtaking sight of the wildebeest migration!
Selous Game Reserve, southern Tanzania – a gem in the south of the country, we tracked wild dog on foot through winding hippo pathways – wonderful!
Laikipia, Kenya – best sighting of rhino in the wild I have ever had
I always carry a travel diary and last thing at night write about everything I’ve seen, done, experienced, tasted, heard during the day, no matter how tired I am. It’s a lovely way of keeping those holiday memories alive.
Make time to sit for an hour or so in the Luwi Bush Camp hippo hide – there are a startling number of hippos in the lagoon, and just before dusk they all start to yawn and occasionally squabble – it’s an amazing sight!
Always learn a few words of the local language, no matter where you are. It takes mere minutes but is a huge compliment.
Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge, Madagascar – a stunning lodge on the southern tip of Madagascar, with waves crashing onto the beach mere seconds from the rooms. Have a sundowner on the rocks with views to the far mountains before taking a night walk in the forest to find nocturnal lemurs.
Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia – this little camp has it all. Set in the most beautiful grove of Winterthorn trees which attract enormous numbers of very relaxed elephant bulls. We spent our afternoons drifting on the Zambezi, close to the elephants as they waded from island to island.
Duba Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana – famous for the clashes between lions and buffalo, we went out for a morning and watched, on the edge of our seats, as lions slowly surrounded the buffalo – before the tables turned and the buffalo got up and attacked back! There were lions running everywhere!
Caracals and camels
What my guests have said
"It was the best trip we have ever taken...and we've travelled quite a bit. Everything exceeded our expectations, from the original planning of the trip right through to the end. We experienced a great level of service from everyone we met. It was a great surprise to us that Anna had mentioned our 30th wedding anniversary to each of the places we stayed at. From Tongabezi Lodge, who provided a welcome bottle of champagne, to each of the lodges that set up a private dinner for us, we were made to feel very special. It was completely unexpected as I think I just mentioned once to Anna that it we were treating ourselves to this trip for our anniversary. She obviously made a note of it! :) Thanks for a fabulous holiday!"
"We found Anna to be very knowledgeable and helpful and she was able to answer all of our questions. We had never travelled to Africa before, so had a few concerns regarding safety/security, which she was to answer because of her own experience in the area."
"Very impressed with Anna who handled our booking - extremely efficient and knowledgeable. This was our first time of booking through your agency and we will use Scott Dunn again in future."
"Faultless. Anna was efficient, accommodating and attentive."
"Anna was brilliant and really knowledgeable and helpful at all times. Thanks go to her for sure. The service was great and we felt that a lot of thought had gone into the planning of our trip."
"Very knowledgeable, friendly, professional service. Fantastic holiday, enjoyed by everyone."
"Just to say we had a great time on the honeymoon. It was fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I also wanted to say thank you for the professional, informed and courteous service we got. It was a pleasure to sort the honeymoon out with you. We loved Africa and it was a great trip, something we will remember forever. So thank you for making it so special and being such a patient pleasure to work with."
"Anna was in a word: Superb. She was truly a gem, amazingly patient and really accommodating in organising our holiday to perfection and really always available and answered all our queries in a timely and professional manner with a sense of humour as well which I enjoyed. She understood our needs both in terms of what we wanted from the holiday, and gave us that within the confines of our budget which was no mean feat and we were very impressed and cannot thank her enough. She has a wealth of knowledge and I felt great confidence that the holiday would be amazing as it was and far exceeded our expectations. Would recommend Scott Dunn 1000%! You guys are great! Not yet been disapponted... keep up the good work! The standard is great and I think the level of service and attention to detail is superb and also ability to get into the clients needs, desires and wishes and specific desires is unique and very important and something your agents do very well."
"Compétent, expert, professional, friendly. Thanks-Thanks-Thanks to Anna!"
"After the struggle we have had with the previous agent, it really was SO helpful (and enjoyable!) to speak to someone who actually appreciates what we are trying to do and can offer genuine insight into the trip! Both my husband and I are very glad we spotted Scott Dunn on Norman Carr's website and got in touch with you as I'm confident that you'll be able to put a great trip together for us."
"We will definitely choose Scott Dunn in the future for our holidays as you personally have been incredibly helpful, knowledgeable and efficient, making planning the trip an easy and, most importantly, an enjoyable process."
"Many thanks again for all your help & guidance. You guys run a top-notch operation and we are already devising ways to incorporate you into future travel plans ;-)"
"We felt that Scott Dunn provided a true expert for the trip type and regions that you service. After reading your website and a few bios, it seemed obvious that SD was well ahead of other agencies in terms of selecting quality personnel. Speaking with an agent (Anna) who had actually been to all of these places was a huge relief for a couple coming from NYC to a place no New Yorkers ever go (or so we were told 100 times by everyone we met on our trip). The itinerary provided by Anna was also personalized and very detailed, explaining who was doing what for us and when. By comparison, other quotes from agencies came from a third-party, on letterhead that was not their own etc., and just looked plain scary, disorganized and indifferent to customer service. Anna did a great job. It is a testament to SD that employees must be well-versed and experienced in the regions that work for. We really threw this at Anna with little time to really prepare and research and trusted she knew what she was doing. She did. Those 38 visits to Africa really paid off. Anna even supplied us with things to do during our lay-overs in London, which worked out well also. Oh, and Anna did all this for us just a few weeks prior to her own wedding, so anything she might have missed is more than forgivable. Many, many thanks to her for her diligence, concern and keen eye for lovely destinations!"
"Special THANKS to Anna Hearn. Don't go anywhere else. I'm with Scott Dunn."
"Anna was excellent, she did a great job, giving us choices and explaining the options. A complex Tongabezi to Ngoma transfer was handled smoothly and efficiently."
"It was absolutely brilliant. We would definitely be up for another safari. Thank you for making it such a lovely trip. We are hooked! I'll call you again when I need the next trip booked!"
"Anna is an asset to Scott Dunn. Her manner is friendly polite and cheerful. I really enjoyed the booking process. I would choose Scott Dunn for efficiency, ease, politeness..... it is a long list!"
"Anna was excellent, she was able to book exactly what I wanted. She had persistence politeness and offered a very personalised service. Anna planned the perfect trip!"
"Our contact person Anna Hearn was great - very hands on, efficient, great knowledge of the country, swift responses."
"Great selection of accommodations and itinerary. Hands on service. One of the best holidays in a long time!"
"We are having an amazing time in Madagascar - it really is out of this world. It really is heaven on earth like you promised. Thank you for all your help arranging!"