Jennie

I grew up in the hospitality industry and I was taught; how to look after a guest by my Dad, Ian Stewart who managed the then, El Mirador hotel in the central Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. My mother also worked at the hotel, but it was later when we jointly ran Cathkin Park Reservations, a central reservation office for the central and northern Drakensberg, where I learnt the art of communication from her.

I have been in a managerial position within the tourism industry for 11 years, from my early beginnings working in a farm stall assisting a small self-catering resort, helping a B&B and golfing pro-shop, I’ve come a long way. Cathkin park reservations gave me the confidence to work with guests and when I married I began a new life that took us to Mkuze Falls Private Game Lodge where I managed the tented lodge for 6 months and then moved into reservations and domestic marketing of the Lodges. I still love Zululand and highly recommend a visit to that part of South Africa!

A crocodile took my husband, Siebert, tragically, in January 2004 and I moved back to the Drakensberg to my safety net and support structure of family and friends who still today keep me in their prayers! I was pregnant at the time and shortly after burying my husband, I gave birth to my son Joshua. It was by God’s grace that I was able to love again and it was the love for Joshua that motivated me to take over Midlands Reservations. I ran THE booking office to contact for venues in and around the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal. The guests whom I had hosted at the Mkuze Falls Lodges became valued clients. Their requests for accommodation outside the ‘borders’ of the Midlands meander prompted me to search further a field; these visitors to South Africa became my guests in this country. I found venues, met the owners / management and selected places I knew would contribute to their visit in South Africa. Thus South Africa Safari was born.

Whilst assisting guests in finding their way around places, I realised that although there were good Route maps available to get them from A to B, there were no tourist maps showing them what to do or see in the area. Andrew Attwood, from Antbear, and I began the Drakensberg Tourist map, which then led to Country Roads comprising of a number of maps of tourist regions that show people what to do and see in those areas as well as giving to scale directions and route to follow.

I sold Midlands reservations and concentrated my efforts on South Africa Safari with help from Pamela who began working with me in February 2005.

I re-married in June 2007; my wonderful husband Pieter took a career in Limpopo as the reserve manager to Witwater Safari Lodge and Spa. My new home, in a Nyala breeding camp inspired me to try and get as many visitors to South Africa to experience a taste of what I get to see, hear and smell every day!

We then spent a season in Zambia before returning to Lowveld of South Africa to practically make a difference to conservation wherever we can.

Though being a part of a family has it’s challenges, being Pieter’s wife is an honour and it is a privilege to be Joshua’s mom. I still need to work a lot out with my Almighty God and Heavenly Father Who gave me the strength to carry on and Who picks me up each time I fall. I pray that the life I lead will become a testimony to those who hurt. I hope our team would be blessing to the field rangers who put their lives in danger each time they choose to protect the biodiversity of a region. I give all honour praise and Glory to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Whom I trust!

 
 
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