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Chris McIntyre

Managing Director

In 1987, my first journey to Africa began shortly after university. I’d left my Physics labs and the historic quods of Queen’s College, Oxford to embark on what turned out to be a remarkable adventure. I flew to Harare, in Zimbabwe, for a placement organised by the UK’s ’Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO): I was to teach maths and physics at a remote, rural school.

The transition was a shock, but immersed in rural Africa, I gradually grew to love it. During the school terms I worked just like any teacher there, teaching large classes of children who were invariably highly motivated, even if some of them didn’t even have electricity at home. I’d spend spare time raising money and donations to equip the Physics lab, which had been largely empty on my arrival.

Then during the long school holidays, I’d back-pack and hitch-hike, firstly around Zimbabwe, and then also into Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. At the time, independence and positivity were in the air –I remember hearing news that Nelson Mandela was freed whilst I explored the remote, coastal town of Lüderitz. Wherever I travelled, I met almost nothing other than kindness and helpfulness.

After two years, I extended my contract for a term to help my ‘A’-level physicists and mathematicians complete their course. Then, with real good luck, I landed my first contract to write a guidebook, from Bradt Publications. So in 1990, I co-authored the first English ‘Guide to Namibia and Botswana’.

Subsequently, I returned to the UK, dedicating the next three years to be a business analyst and shipbroker with P&O. I didn’t enjoy this classic ‘city broking job’, though a number of three-month secondments to partner companies in lovely European cities. Another secondment to a brokerage in Johannesburg was a great excuse to escape for the weekends into the bush and national parks of South Africa.

In 1994, I approached several holiday companies with the idea of organising and selling safaris across Southern Africa, and in particular fly-drive trips in Namibia. Sunvil Holidays already had an embryonic programme to “the charming West African country of Namibia”, but no depth in their knowledge of Africa. They saw the opportunity and offered me a post to take over their embryonic Namibia programme.

Thus, I’d traded life as a suited city ship-broker to start to build up an Africa travel programme. I’ve not looked back for a second.

Over the following years, I travelled in more depth, researching more guidebooks. In 1996, I wrote the English guidebook to Zambia, again for Bradt; then in in 1998 a stand-alone guide to Namibia; and (finally) a completely book on Botswana in 2003. All have now had multiple editions published, and in more recent years I’ve co-authored five Zanzibar travel guides with my wife Susan, and a number of guidebooks to Tanzania with a colleague from Bradt, Philip Briggs. All have been kept up to date with multiple editions; see my biograph page on expertafrica.com for the most recent of my various African guidebooks.

My regular trips to Africa researched all aspects of travel in Africa, although I was always drawn to the national parks, wilderness areas and the wildlife. African travel in the late 1990s wasn’t about five-star lodges; many places, especially those in more remote areas, were really very simple: exceedingly basic by today’s standards.

Back in the UK, I found that travellers loved the mix of first-hand knowledge and straight-forward, tell-it-like-it is advice. Hence researching the guidebooks was a natural precursor to arranging more extensive trips for travellers – and building up the Africa specialist company that Expert Africa has become.

Gradually other Africa enthusiasts joined me at Expert Africa, allowing the guidebook research to become a team effort. We’d always look for bright engaging team members with, first and foremost, a real passion for Africa. Now I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to pursue my passion and work alongside an exceptional team of enthusiastic Africa specialists who share my enthusiasm for the wilds of Africa.

Almost 30 years after finishing VSO, my commitment to responsible travel remains unwavering – as does that of the entire Expert Africa team.

I am honoured to be a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and occasionally contribute articles and insights to various publications, from Wanderlust and BBC Wildlife to Travel Africa, The Independent, and The Telegraph. And, of course, I’m still involved in updating the guidebooks, but these days it’s a joint effort with my wife and colleagues.

Over the past decades, I have been privileged to serve as an expert panel member for two of DFID’s business challenge funds and as a director of AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) for the last thirteen years.

I now live in the UK, near the North Downs, with my family. Africa remains a constant draw, helping to ensure that our expertise at Expert Africa continues to evolve and expand.

Posts by Chris

8 mins

No Clouds, Just Silver Linings

Recently our attention has been drawn to this year’s weather in Southern Africa, and…

9 mins

Green Season Botswana

If you’ve already been to Africa in the dry season, especially to Botswana, travelling…

9 mins

Birds of a Feather

When we talk to travellers who are planning their first safari, invariably – and…

8 mins

Trips & Triumphs

The beginning of the year is always busy at Expert Africa. Repeat travellers start…

8 mins

High Fliers!

As the number of our travellers to Africa reached its peak, so did issues…

5 mins

Lost and Found

It's not quite Noah’s Ark, but this month’s newsletter is certainly all about wildlife…

9 mins

Celebrating New Arrivals

There’s a buzz in the Expert Africa team as our travellers return to Southern…

7 mins

Survive & Thrive

With a busy 2022 safari season underway, it’s been wonderful to see countries across…

7 mins

Wonder Women

This International Women’s Day (8 March 2022) Expert Africa is championing the talented women…

7 mins

Bee my Valentine

It’s February: heart-covered cards are filling the shops and lovebirds are flocking together.

6 mins

Legacies & Legends

2022 is shaping up to be a great year for African safaris. Around the…

8 mins

Hope and Innovation

Without question, this year has been filled with disappointments and difficulties for everyone involved…

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