As we celebrate #25YearsandBeyond, it leads me to think back on my own time with the company and to reflect on some of the many moments that make me both grateful and proud to be an &Beyonder. I joined &Beyond 11 years ago as a native South African finally returning to my homeland after living in Canada for most of my life. Perhaps the move was a whim at the time, but it has unexpectedly changed my life for the better and I wouldn’t change a thing.
&Beyond is an incredible company to work for and it has truly been more than a decade filled with bucket list moments and lifetime firsts. To summarise those 11 years into just ten extraordinary experiences is impossible, so this Top 10 is just a few of my most favourite moments at &Beyond. It is merely a taste of the countless unbelievable experiences that we offer our guests. It all starts with a dream, so let us do the planning for you!
The past 11 years have been a wild adventure, to say the very least, and I am most grateful to the mentors that hired and guided me along the way. I have learned so much and I continue to wake up each and every day, proud to be an &Beyonder. I can only imagine what the next 11 years will have in store.
What’s next…? Well, I’m still basking in the very recent glory of my first ever pangolin sighting, but future bucket list dreams would include seeing an aardvark, exploring the Galápagos Islands, photographing Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, witnessing a tiger deep in the jungles of India and watching the sun rise over the Taj Mahal, to name just a few. Oh and let’s not forget my dream of producing an &Beyond ranger calendar in support of rhino conservation. To all khaki fever sufferers around the world, watch this space (you’re welcome).
1. Sleeping out under the stars in the remote, unfenced Big Five wilderness of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. Imagine comfy beds, fluffy duvets, infinite stars, twinkling lanterns, fireside chats and those evocative night sounds of Africa.
2. At long last, spending an hour watching a critically endangered pangolin, one of Africa’s Elusive Eleven, as the sun slowly set over the Kalahari Desert at Tswalu. A lifetime dream come true! Image © Cameron Appel.
3. Watching our incredible conservation team successfully translocate highly endangered rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa to Botswana for Rhinos Without Borders, our joint initiative with Great Plains Conservation.
4. Helping the &Beyond Mnemba Island family relocate 125 green turtle eggs that were in danger of being washed away
5. Touching a gentle (sleeping) giant as part of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve’s elephant conservation programme (this is NOT a hunting photo, the animal was sedated for research purposes).
6. Hand-feeding a shy suni antelope and witnessing the enormous coconut crabs in the quiet, shaded forest of &Beyond Mnemba Island.
8. Meeting the President of Botswana, Ian Khama, as &Beyond officially donated rhino to his country.
9. Getting to “spoon” a sleeping lion and cheetah as part of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve’s ongoing conservation initiatives.
10. Observing the most unbelievably heavily pregnant African wild dog at &Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and later seeing her 17 insanely cute puppies.