Hosted Ethiopia Safari with Francis Naumann
As part of a series of hosted trips led by some of the most experienced in the Aardvark Safaris’ sales team, Francis will be heading back to Ethiopia in October 2022. Here are the full itinerary details and if you are considering joining Francis on this one-off trip of a lifetime we thought you might like to know a bit more about the man himself.
I have been hooked on Africa since the age of 10, when I spent two weeks being driven around Kenya in an old land-cruiser with my parents and sister. To say my eyes were out on stalks the entire time would not be an exaggeration. The people, scenery, heat, wildlife and birdlife were another planet to me, one which was instantly seductive and addictive.
I returned to Africa in 1990 for a two week holiday in South Africa with a good friend from home. We spent some of the time with South African friends in KwaZulu Natal, and then drove ourselves to the Kruger via Hluhluwe iMfolozi for a bit of wildlife viewing. Quite what the wildlife thought about these two bumbling idiots from Wiltshire driving a hatchback Toyota around their homes was unclear, but it reawakened the call of the wild in me.
In 1995 I travelled to Zimbabwe to begin close to six years’ travelling across the continent, guiding groups of up to 22 clients on journeys of between two weeks and four months. Travelling through off-the-beaten-track regions of East and West Africa in the days before the mobile phone or email, self-reliance, adaptability, resourcefulness and stubbornness were desirable attributes, along with a decent strand of diplomacy for negotiating payment-free passage through more than 120 road blocks across Nigeria.
When I started guiding, it became clear that many colleagues in the sector knew next to nothing about the amazing places they were bringing clients to, beyond the bare bones listed in Lonely Planet. I determined to be the best I could, and set out to know as much as possible about every part of Africa I visited, its people, history, culture, geography, politics and of course natural history so that I could share knowledge about every facet of each place we visited.
Naturally, I visited the Serengeti, Victoria Falls, Zanzibar, Chobe National Park and many more of the fabulous wildlife reserves of East and Southern Africa, but it was the unknown places that I found the most fascinating. I was very lucky, and got to see Lake Tanganyika, Timbuktu (five times – don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything), the Pays Dogon, Djenne and Mopti in Mali, Kano, Zaire as it was called then, Cameroon, Kumasi and Cape Coast in Ghana, Chinguetti in Mauritania, and countries such as Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Benin and Togo in addition to the easy ones in the East and South.
I’ve canoed the Zambezi, climbed Kili (twice), walked and ridden on Nyika Plateau, ridden in the Okavango Delta, Hwangwe, Kenya and South Africa. I’ve flown up the Skeleton Coast and driven across the Sahara. Even several bouts of Malaria during my early guiding days in West Africa hasn’t dimimished my love of this extraoridnary continent.
I adore the vast expanses of wilderness in Africa, the wide open grasslands of East Africa’s Rift Valley, the Zambezi basin, the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans, Damaraland and Kaokoland in Namibia, and the forests of Uganda and Rwanda. It’s land that I’m sure we are connected to in a primeval genetic way, and returning always gives me a deep-seated sense of homecoming. One of the great surprises of my time in Africa is how rich and varied the continent’s culture is, and also how accessible it can be. Ethiopia is a case in point, with many more people dressed in traditional styles, a strong and active cultural scene with fabulous art and music, and much less of a western influence on life as a whole, it’s part of Africa that can be just as richly rewarding to visit as the spectacular expanses of wilderness that I love so dearly.
Since Africa is so enormous, I am still learning 25 years later, and the thrill of seeing new places never abates. Neither does the joy of telling other people about the amazing things I have seen and experienced.
Ethiopia was an unknown for me until earlier this year, but everything I had read about it filled me with an urge to see it. What an incredible destination it is too, with its ancient Christian culture, long and fascinating history, spectacular landscapes, and people living traditional lives that have changed little for centuries. It’s a truly wonderful place, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
If you would like to join Francis on this wonderful Ethiopian holiday, or would like to chat about any aspect of the itinerary or Ethiopia in general please do get in touch. Just send us an email or give us a call and we would be delighted to help.