Owner and Founder
African Safaris Ltd was founded on a passion for Africa, by Claire Vial; an experienced wildlife photographer, zoologist, and author of more than 60 international children’s books. Claire’s passion for the continent, its wildlife and people, started at a very young age through reading books and watching wildlife documentaries.
In 1993 Claire bought a one-way ticket to Botswana where she lived and worked as a wildlife conservationist volunteer for Conservation International in/around the Okavango Delta, for 2 years. Armed with a point-and-shoot camera on arrival, she quickly realised an SLR was needed to capture Africa’s wildlife. Teaching herself photography, Claire was living her dream – in Africa with a camera. Finally returning to New Zealand in 1997 she started writing and illustrating non-fiction children’s books, on a variety of animals.; whilst at the same time she started African Safaris Ltd and began taking small groups to Africa on safari.
Since Claire’s first trip to Africa in 1993 she has spent the last 20 years travelling and working in Southern Africa and East Africa. Using her extensive knowledge and experience, Claire still loves to share Africa and leads two safaris to Botswana and Kenya/Tanzania each year. The highlight of taking small groups to Africa is to give people an opportunity to experience some of Africa’s last great wilderness areas; and to feel, smell and touch Africa – Claire’s second home. ‘When you are in Africa and you are watching a lion hunt, it is very challenging and emotional to put into words what you are feeling at the time; what you see, what you smell, what you hear. Like myself, many people have found a wonderful connection with Africa and there is a lot of truth in the saying that Africa gets under your skin and into your blood. Karen Blixen put it very well by saying “You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.” And, I hole-heartedly agree with R. Elliott who said “If you can only visit 2 continents in your lifetime, visit Africa twice.”