INDABA 2013: Africa’s top travel show

INDABA 2013 meetingsTrip Report by Keith Holshausen, Lazy Lizard Travel LLC

Even though I grew up in Southern Africa, every visit ‘home’ is filled with excitement from the moment I step onto the South African Airways flight in JFK, to the first sight of the rising sun and that unforgettable orange glow as we wing southwards.  SAA is an award winning airline with three South African airports ranked the best in Africa which are also currently rated higher than any American airport (Skytrax survey).

INDABA is owned by SA Tourism and attracts some 13,000 delegates with 750 exhibitors.  At INDABA you can discover all the latest travel products available and window-shop for travel opportunities, as well as network in an industry that thrives on connections. I squeezed in 38 meetings in three days not to count the various ‘sundowners’ and cocktail events that go with the territory.  Show organization is top notch and the service and efficiency is undoubtedly ‘first world’ but with a delightful flavor of Africa.  May is a perfect time to be in South Africa as you get to experience Autumn at its best.

Numerous African countries are represented, including the hearty Southern African contingent of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique (not forgetting the host country, South Africa) to the East Africa clan of Tanzania and Kenya with a special contribution from the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion.

The South African Minister of Tourism was also visiting INDABA as tourism is a leading earner of foreign currency, even overtaking gold exports.  They say that one job is created for every 12 foreign arrivals in South Africa.

No visit to INDABA would be complete without a few ‘site inspections’ and the travel industry is always ready to showcase their splendors.  I traditionally visit the game reserves in the Kruger National Park area and my sightings of leopard at Mala Mala this year were breathtaking to say the least.  I then dropped in at Kapama Private Game Reserve which stretches over 30,000 acres and has four sophisticated bush camps.  In Cape Town the Table Bay Hotel on the waterfront boasts stunning views of Table Mountain and you are also pampered with exceptional service.  The scenic Cape Winelands have been described by many overseas wine experts as the most beautiful in the world.  The Cape wine industry dates back to the 17th century with the Dutch settlers and French Huguenots.  My wife’s ancestors were wine farmers and settled their Paarl estate ‘Den Soeten Inval’ as far back as 1688.

So next time you are looking at your ‘bucket list’, I strongly suggest you write in Africa and perhaps even write it in twice.

Hamba kahle….travel well.

Sleeping Partners

Keith Holshausen

Keith Holshausen

There’s an old saying that goes “let sleeping dogs lie” and while that may be true for dogs, sleeping partners, don’t!  For that I am heartily glad as my “sleeping partner”, financial backer and Number One Encourager joined the business full time at the beginning of the year.

Keith has watched and coached from the sidelines as the Lazy Lizard steadily became more of a Busy Lizard.  Satisfied clients, happy travelers and inroads into specialized Corporate Incentive travel have meant a steady stream of referrals, repeats and new work.  This convinced us that Lazy Lizard Travel needed someone to take on the growth and development of our business towards a glowing future.

Keith now comes on board full time to help grow this vibrant business, which has already become established as a well respected player in the travel industry.  With over 30 years of experience in running and managing businesses, Keith now looks forward to employing these skills at Lazy Lizard Travel.  His knowledge and understanding of the components involved in successful business operations include financials, business development, marketing and management and these combined with Keith’s attention to detail and personable nature will make him a valuable partner at LLT.

Keith has already added his expertise in the constructing of some exciting new trips that appeal to our golf, safari and wine enthusiasts and we’re looking at combining all of those interests in our future trips!  In the last six months, Keith has met with our suppliers on the ground in Southern Africa, Scotland and Italy as we take Lazy Lizard Travel to the next level.  Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for more fun travel adventures from us both!

It is with a large measure of excitement I welcome my new business partner who, far from sleeping like a dog, is rather wide awake and roaring like a lion, eager for the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from a business well run and going places. 

African Sunrise

It happens sometimes when you travel across time zones that you take a while to settle into the time change.  That can mean waking or sleeping at times not usual to you and in turn hearing or seeing things that you would normally not experience.  I woke sometime during the night and lay listening to the African night sounds.  The fiery necked night jar calling his distinctive “Good-Lord-deliver-us!” and an owl with his mournful hoot.  Somewhere a disturbed cockerel begins calling for the sun but it’s still too early for that.  We drift back to sleep only to wake again in the pearly light of dawn and lie quietly talking about the journey we have come.

Granite kopjie Zimbabwe

With a jolt I remember how dramatic the sunrise is in Africa and we jump out of bed to fully open the drapes.  A rosy hue touches the tops of the trees and suddenly the glowing orange orb of the rising sun pushes its way into view over the horizon.  We watch fascinated as pale pastel light rapidly changes to bright colorful vibrancy.  It lights up the room, the garden and beyond in a matter of minutes.  It’s almost as if some giant Hand reaches down and plucks the sun up and then hangs it in the sky.  Time will seem to move slowly for the rest of the day – until the sun once more approaches the horizon when suddenly it will drop and darkness will fall almost instantly.

Low light on eles at waterhole Zim

There is nothing stealthy or subtle about sunrise or sunset here in the African tropics.  The beginning and ending of every day is a dramatic enactment of life – a moment or two to pause and rejoice, a moment or two to pause and consider.  Each takes your breath away and it is a comment I hear often while traveling in this incredible continent “why is it that the sunrise/sunset here is so much more beautiful than anywhere else?”  I don’t know the answer to that – but I have to agree!

Homecoming

After nights of sleepless excitement we have finally arrived!  We are back in Zimbabwe – our home land – as visitors.  How strange it all looks and yet how familiar.

Familiar sights

Our son was there waiting for us at Harare International Airport, the plane was early, all our luggage arrived and accounted for, the immigration and customs officials polite and rather bored, the airport clean if shabby and outside the sun is shining in a blue sky.  The countryside looks lush and green with long grass and flowering trees evidence of the past season’s good rains.  It seems informal markets selling wonderful woven grass and reed goods, wooden furniture and sculptures are back in business along with the tree-cutters who advertise their wares on hand painted metal signs hammered into the trees on many a corner.  A new addition are the sellers of “air time” who rush out into the traffic at each intersection to help you keep your all-important cell phone topped up!  Incredible dodging and weaving in between vehicles who behave as if these intrepid vendors are bionic or at the very least, invisible!

Baskets and benches

Avenues of dappled shadow and hard-edge sunshine bring good memories flooding back.  Riding home from school, heading off to matches, afternoon teas and morning playgroups.  There is a smile growing inside of me.  We drop our bags in the spacious guest suite of our friend’s home and gather outside on the patio to begin the unraveling of time and stories.  We sit under the shade of a large canvas umbrella and look out over the impeccably manicured lawn, luscious tropical plantings, their swimming pool and tennis courts as we chat and exchange news and slowly the last few hectic days fade steadily away.  And then as if to complete our homecoming, at four o’clock Blessing arrives carrying the tea tray.  It’s laden with teapot and mugs for a hot cuppa and freshly baked home-made crunchies, our most favorite of biscuits.  Ahhh!  Such a civilized tradition and one we have missed!

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