John Spence

San Diego Office

Once a white water rafting guide on the world renowned rapids of the Zambezi River, my first encounter with Africa was as a mixologist in a Cape Town cocktail bar. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair with the continent—a passion that has grown across countless journeys on horseback, by canoe, light aircraft, on foot, and behind the wheel of a car.

I’ve been designing one-of-a-kind trips for clients all over the world for over 20 years having founded Aardvark Safaris in 1999. I like to think my love of Africa and adventure is infectious so whether you want to know where to find tree-climbing lions in Uganda and Tanzania, spot endangered black rhino in Kenya, or find out the most important thing to pack on your Kilimanjaro climb, I’m your man.

John Spence in the news

Tripping Out, Modern Luxury

What Travel Advisors Should Know About Customized Adventure Travel, TravelAge West

Going Global, Ranch & Coast

Meet the woman breaking the safari industry's glass ceiling, Forbes

Creating custom vacations is a trip for Solana Beach man, Coast News

Meet John Spence

What my guests have said

"Fred and I definitely appreciated the work that you and your team did for our many trips--they were simply stellar. I’m sure we’ll be in touch again in the near future."

Travel nuggets

  • Always push yourself a little outside your comfort zone.

  • Americans collectively give up a massive 169 million vacation days each year. People, let's reclaim our vacation time!

  • Take well meant advice from friends with a pinch of salt and plan the perfect trip for you and your party.

  • I love the quote, "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer."

  • I always travel with a headlamp. It may not be sexy but you'll be surprised how often it comes in handy.

My hot picks

Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco, Peru

When you fly into Cusco you’re often taken aback by the high altitude so this Belmond property provides a serene old world retreat from the bustling city.

Chiawa Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Location, location, location! Chiawa is perched right on the edge of the Zambezi and has elephants wandering by the bedrooms. Amazing staff and guides.

Ol Donyo Lodge, Chyulu Hills, Kenya

Ridiculously spectacular location and jaw-dropping views.

Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Great location close to water for out of this world game viewing, even from the comfort of your bedroom.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Serengeti National Park, Serengeti and northern Tanzania, Tanzania

Anyone looking for a high end luxury safari camp will know there are many competitors in the market but Singitia does posh sublimely well. From its food to its exclusive location, it's impossible to fault Faru Faru's quality.

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