The origins of Sense of Africa were founded in 1962 by a Belgian Congolese as a one man operation in Swakopmund as Oryx Safaris, doing day tours around Swakopmund into the desert as well as safaris on request to the highlights around the country, in particular Etosha.
Oryx Safaris grew, with the help of some private equity investment, to become Oryx Tours, the Namibian leg of Springbok Atlas in South Africa. During this time the key products were tailor made group tours around the country and some select self drive tours. At the same time, the South African Railways had started servicing domestic tourism holidays and had an operator established. In the 80’s, this company was taken over by private investors and was renamed Trans Namibia Tours. In the late 90’s, the subsequent owners of both these businesses decided to merge their companies to form the market leader in Namibia. The new enterprise still traded under the name and style of Oryx Tours.
To provide fresh impetus and vision to the company, but also to move the business away from the perception of being a coach operator, the company underwent a rebrand to Sense of Africa. Travelling with all your senses. The vision was to provide not only touring services, but full destination management of all travel requirements to the distribution chains abroad.
The business, now based in the capital Windhoek, has grown from strength to strength and is now the undisputed market leader to Namibia for leisure travel, both in group format as well as independent travel. Many leaders within the tourism industry have started out at Sense of Africa and have been trained up here before moving on. The company and its two initial divisions have been managed by some legends within the industry, amongst others Helmut zur Strassen, Udo Weck, Manni Goldbeck and Dieter Glaue.
In 2013, Sense of Africa expanded physically into Botswana by purchasing the majority share in Travel Wild. Travel Wild was established in 1982 when Maun was little more than a one horse town at the end of a very long and bumpy dirt road. In those days of no satellite communications and limited phone connections, Travel wild was one of the very few links to the outside world, albeit via the telex machine. As local communications improved and with ever changing technology, Travel Wild shifted from inter- camp communications to doing what we know best: providing professional safari advice and booking holidays to the finest wildlife destinations.
Still based here in Maun and rebranded to Sense of Africa Botswana, we pride ourselves on offering a personal service and competitive rates, constantly getting out in to the bush to see the lodges for ourselves to ensure we can give our honest, unbiased opinions.
In 2015, Sense of Africa was given management control over the Tourvest subsidiaries in East Africa. Founded in 1989, Vintage Travel and Tours Services Ltd. commenced trading as a small airline ticketing office employing 3 staff, essentially the initial owners and close family. As the business grew it moved to larger premises and became engaged in organizing local safaris servicing the needs of tourists ‘in destination’.
In 1997 safaris and tours started in earnest with the establishment of the Vintage Safari Tours Limited which very shortly became Vintage Africa Ltd, representing the company’s expansion into Tanzania followed by the opening of Grumeti Expeditions in Arusha in 2004. In 2014 Tourvest bought out the initial owners and become the sole shareholder within the company.
The Head Office of Vintage Africa has always remained in Nairobi, although we have branch offices based in Arusha, Tanzania and Kampala, Uganda. The rebranding of these companies into Sense of Africa Kenya, Sense of Africa Tanzania and Sense of Africa Uganda was started in 2016. Despite now being part of a much larger footprint across Africa, the company maintains its loyal and long-serving team and the basis of its traditional service orientated values which it was founded upon almost 30 years ago.
The team at Sense of Africa is proud of the expansion of its African footprint and by having offices on the ground, to provide the service and knowledge we have become known for. Led by a team of enthusiastic, hands-on managers, we aim to have our brand become synonymous with travel to Africa.