Our story started way back in 1976, when founder Steve Conradie’s grandfather Henry took him to the Kruger National Park for the first time.
Back in those days, there were no fences around the camps, and hyenas came right up to the rondawels at night, sniffing for leftovers. Once, Steve fell asleep at a window, waiting to see them. He was woken by the stench of a hyena’s breath, its jaws just centimetres from his face. Instead of terrifying the young boy, this became a pivotal memory.
Throughout Steve’s childhood, his grandfather took him on dozens of trips to South Africa’s parks, teaching him about animals, birds, plants, landscapes and the lore of the bush.
As an adult, Steve continued exploring, criss-crossing sub-Saharan Africa in his Land Rover. In 2002, he set out on a six-month drive that took him all the way to the Serengeti in Tanzania. On his return, he met Andre Van Kets.
Steve and a Zambian border-post official stand in front of his Land Rover Defender during a 6-month overland trip through Africa in 2001
Andre Van Kets had completed a business and computer degree at the University of Cape Town and worked on websites during the dot-com boom. Then, with money saved and no commitments, he started travelling.
In three years he visited five continents: backpacking through Mozambique, snowboarding in the USA, exploring Europe, trekking through Thailand and living in Australia. Andre discovered what really matters to travellers when they’re planning a trip and on the move.
Andre Van Kets having fun on his worldly travels
Andre really wanted to travel in Africa. He knew how to make websites, whereas Steve knew everything about African travel and wanted to set up an online travel business. Andre had the tech skills; Steve had the African expertise.
There weren’t many online travel companies at that stage, so the duo got to work. They launched their first website Drive South Africa in 2002, offering car, 4×4 and motorhome rentals for people who wanted to explore as Steve had.
In 2006, they created Overlanding Africa, a budget safari site for the same kind of European, Australasian and North American backpackers whom Andre had met on his travels.
By the time the FIFA Soccer World Cup kicked off in South Africa in 2010, the business had grown to a well-respected company of 25 travel-loving employees.
Andre and Steve at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa
In between their work responsibilities, Steve and Andre made time to visit Africa’s most desirable destinations. They visited the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, the Serengeti in Tanzania, and many other African destinations – both on and off the beaten path.
Sometimes they travelled Steve-style, by Land Rover; at other times they did it Andre-style, in overland trucks. But they also started travelling in classic safari style, flying into remote luxury lodges surrounded by wildlife and wild landscapes.
Steve and Andre, Discover Africa co-founders
It was during those trips that the vision for Discover Africa was born: a website to curate Africa’s most incredible safari experiences.
With the help of experts across the continent, Steve and Andre hand-pick tour operators and lodges that meet their strict criteria of quality, safety, ethics and value. The pair want to maintain an impeccably high standard for discerning travellers, so only carefully crafted, beautifully presented and flawlessly executed African safaris make the grade.
Both Steve and Andre recognise that Africa is a unique and precious gift to humankind. As Africans bringing people from all over the world to experience this heritage, they believe it’s their duty to do so ethically and mindfully.
Why? Because everyone’s grandchildren should have the chance to discover Africa’s wonders as Steve did all those years ago.
Now that you’ve met us, we’d like the chance to meet you…!