Aug 102015

Wild Frontiers interview

David Bristow interviews John Addison, co-founder of Wild Frontiers, who hosted the African Icons team in the Serengeti and Uganda’s Buhoma Mountains last year.

 Travel and nature author David Bristow, writer behind the mammoth ‘Africa’s Finest’ and ‘African Icons’ book projects, fesses up: John Addison, the man behind Wild Frontiers safari company, has saved his hide – more than once.

 To quote: “If I was in a real pickle somewhere in Africa and I had just one phone call to make, I’d call John Addison. I’ve done it more than once already.”

 So what is it about Bwana John and Wild Frontiers that makes them stand head and shoulders above their competitors, David asked him recently over ice cold Kilimanjaros.

 First, it is the experience of the team. John met his future wife and now business partner Debbie on an overland safari that crossed some of the most hostile terrain in Africa. First separately and now together they have covered every inch of the places they peddle, and much more besides. They spend much of the year on the road, crisscrossing the continent to keep up to date on all things, but also – and equally importantly – to make sure the cogs of their operation are running smoothly.

 John recounts: “We are not a website selling packages to places which they depict in pretty pictures. We are real people, people who know the place better than just about anyone else. We only sell travel to places we know personally and, in most cases, have our own people based there …” (they employ more than 200 people throughout Africa) – not half bad for a “mom and pop” operator.


Bwanas Bristow and Addison check out a wildebeest carcass on the Ndutu Plain of Serengeti, checking for any leftovers, while Memsaab de La Harpe captures the action of video from afar. Pic by Roger de la Harpe.

 Second, he tells me, Wild Frontiers is not only owner-managed, but they run all their own trips, they own camps and vehicles across Africa. They are not, he explains, like 90 % of safari websites that are really just travel re-bookers.

 “What happens when the wheels come off,” he stares me down, implying they can and sometimes do. “You cannot call Expedia and cry for help.” But you can call John, even better Debbie, which I know well enough.

 One of the biggest issues with modern travel, specifically safari travel in wild Africa, reckons John, is that there is actually too much information and not enough knowledge. What travellers really need is a human filter.

 Wild Frontiers operates out of South Africa and into 10 other countries, notably Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania (including the Zanzibar islands), Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Central Africa Republic and Ethiopia. They also have operational bases in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda in order to facilitate smooth operations.

 So if it’s safari you’re looking for, and you want it wild but as safe as Africa can be, you want to talk to Wild Frontiers. They even host what I call “beer evenings” in conjunction with Cape Union Mart where you can go and talk these things over. Not only that, but they initiated and run both the Kilimanjaro and Victoria Falls annual marathons as investments in local upliftment and destination marketing.

 John and Debbie have been helping people reach their dreams, such as up Kilimanjaro and encounters with mountain gorillas, for more than 25 years. They’re in it for the long run.

But don’t believe me, I’m just a writer. Check out their credentials on their website,296,Our%20Company


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