Our Bush people . . .
Liezl van Niekerk
I was lucky to grow up in beautiful South Africa, a place that can only be described as a world in one country. As a young girl, I loved to read about faraway places and made up my mind that I would one day I would travel to as many of them as possible. I have been lucky to have lived in Germany and Norway before moving to the United States, all while traveling extensively. As much as I have loved every one of my travels, embracing new cultures and amazing sights, my heart has always belonged to Africa.
We truly have it all, friendly people that give us various exciting cultures and cuisines, to the natural splendor that sets Africa apart and becomes part of your soul. Southern Africa’s landscapes are made up of valleys, mountains, forests, deserts, coastlines, and bushveld that are breath-taking in their picturesque scale. Of course, some of the planet’s most exciting wildlife species can be found here, so it is not surprising that Southern Africa is home to a collection of the most abundant and diverse game reserves on earth. Southern Africa truly is a masterpiece; the perfect portrayal of the magic that is the African continent.
As a Southern Africa specialist, I love helping my clients discover Africa as seen through my eyes, whether you are having sun-downers on top of Table Mountain, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, to enjoying sun-downers out in the African bush or maybe lazing by the pool on one of our award-winning Wine Estates… I want them to fall in love my Africa.
Originally from Scotland, I moved to Connecticut in the US when I was 11 years old. I first visited Africa in 2008 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Although this was a large focus of the trip, the few days spent on safari to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and the Serengeti following the climb immediately became a lifetime highlight and ensured that I would visit the continent again. The combination of amazing scenery, game viewing, wonderful local hospitality, and endless adventure experiences make it a very special place.
I most recently returned from my last trip to South Africa & Zimbabwe, where I experienced the majesty of Victoria Falls; the thrill of whitewater rafting the Zambezi River; the excitement of Big Five game drives in the Greater Kruger Park area; the stunning beauty and culture of Cape Town; and the history of Johannesburg. Africa always delivers on all fronts and ensures that you’ll start planning your next visit as soon as you return home.
I have been in the travel industry in various capacities for close to 30 years, much of that time spent selling adventure travel. I have a love for travel and a thirst for experiencing new places, people, and cultures. I look forward to helping you customize that dream trip to Africa and to experience all it has to offer firsthand.
For the past 15 yrs I have been skiing and providing customized ski vacation packages to most ski resorts in Colorado, Park City, Wyoming, California and Nevada as well as Canada, Europe and Japan. While skiing is still my biggest passion, I have also become a big fan of Africa and a proud South Africa Fundi Specialist.
Africa fills the senses in a very unique and special way. It is full of surprising vistas, wild animals and adventure at every turn. Your eyes and ears are on heightened alert in search of those large animals in their natural habitat during a game drive. There is something so exciting about being surrounded by untamed nature with the security of being with a trained guide. They are quick to share the knowledge of the land and its inhabitants. It isn’t scripted so every day in a game park brings a totally different experience.
What I found the most impressive was the overall hospitality. From the boutique 3 and 4 star hotels to the amazing 5 star resorts you will find gracious service, truly amazing food and wonderful wines. I think my favorite touch was the hot water bottles tucked under your covers to keep you warm at night. When you arrive at the 5 star Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town they greet you with “Welcome Home!”
Beyond the game parks there is much more do and explore. I spent my time traveling along the Garden Coast of South Africa. I loved the different eco systems so close in proximity to each other. You have the mountains as a magnificent back drop while being close to the coast and the jungle setting in between. This area offers accommodations and activities for everyone and every budget. There are endless activities from hiking, to bungee jumping, visiting animal preserves to golfing and wine tasting.
The one thing I can guarantee is when you return from your first trip to Africa you will be consumed with planning the next one.
Jen discovered a love for Africa after visiting several years ago. South Africa stole a piece of her heart that first trip with the unparalleled combination of big game viewing, stunning landscapes, and local hospitality. She has been back several times since to explore different areas of the country, as well as touring Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Africa is a place she is happy to return to again and again, as it offers different experiences and amazing discoveries each time.
Jen has spent time visiting various game reserves on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, as well as delving into some of the adventures the country has to offer; from bungee jumping off the world’s largest bridge to shark diving with Great White off the coast. After spending time in Kruger National Park, with singular animal sightings, it became clear why it is a bucket list destination for travelers. Her time in the country has been rounded off by driving the Garden Route, getting a taste of city life in Cape Town, and vineyard hopping in South Africa’s inimitable wine country.
Mozambique and Zimbabwe showcase other must-see destinations of Africa. The soft, white sand and crystal clear waters off the coast of Mozambique make it a perfect locale to unwind and bask in the surroundings. On the other end of the spectrum is Zimbabwe, where boating down the Zambezi River with hippos and crocodiles in the distance and Victoria Falls thundering in the background gave Jen an understanding of how wild and incredible Africa truly is.
My travels to South Africa visiting this amazing country brought me back home with one important realization. And it’s one that I have successfully communicated with our clients and that is that once you visit this destination, it is likely that it will be the one place in the world that you know you will want to visit again.
Having said that, indeed, the clients I sent this past summer celebrated a 70th birthday on the Eastern Cape, and told me when they returned that they had the best vacation ever and would, undoubtedly, plan another trip with their grandchildren and children.
For me this sums it up. Few destinations have that sort of immediate impact. While I sent my client to an area I hadn’t visited, our team at Alpine Adventures has enough experience to bring together a fabulous itinerary! I loved the experience I got visiting Johannesburg and Sandton City for a couple of days, spending several days in Cape Town areas of the Constantia Valley Region close to the wine vineyards and staying at the historical 5-star hotel, The Cellars-Hohenhort, and touring the Steenberg Wineries. Also, I visited and stayed at the Bay Hotel and had fantastic views of sunsets over Table Mountain and watching big waves from the Atlantic hit the shores of Camps Bay! In the center of town, I visited well known hotels including Cape Grace in the Working Harbor and the very famous and historical Belmont Mt. Nelson hotel.
I finished my tour by staying a night at Hippo Hollow which is about 2 hours from the Kruger National Park. I took a transfer from Hippo Hollow to Jock Safari Lodge. It’s a private concession in the park, giving them the unique access to drive their safari vehicles in the dry river beds during summer months. We were able to view so much wildlife from that vantage point! The only animal we didn’t see was the cheetah. We did get to see the rhino, elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, wild dogs, hippos, giraffes, hyenas and monkeys!
Hoping to talk to anyone interested in these areas and help put together an exciting itinerary suited and custom built for the client.