She Roars because she is an African Queen

It’s never too late to be spontaneous or to redirect your life. This was a lesson I learnt a few years back after hearing about the unprecedented poaching of our elephant and rhino populations. Animals were being killed daily in tragic numbers. It made me feel helpless, but also, that I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. I had to take some action.

I decided I would go into Africa – but I would do it differently. I would lead a group of like-minded women from all over the world who wanted to explore and make a contribution. I wanted to share the magnificent beauty of Africa with international travellers but at the same time provide them with unique exposure to a range of specialised conservation experiences. I hoped to lead women of different ages and stages in their lives; anyone bonded by a shared love of the open road and a passion for wildlife and wild places. We would visit people working in conservation and experience for ourselves, the often incredibly difficult, but rewarding work they undertake. I believed that together we could help provide resources for important conservation projects and in this way, we could help weave a powerful web of support for these incredible wildlife heroes.

I lead my first all-female expedition in 2016. It was called the “Elephant Ignite Expedition.” We drove more than 16 000km in 100 days through 10 countries from South Africa to Kenya. Since then, on all the many all-female trips I have led, the main focus is always giving back to nature and to conservation, while at the same time, exploring new and exciting places.

I have always believed that a change in landscape can re-ignite one’s soul redirect one’s life path, so in May 2022, we undertook our first post-Covid Pandemic expedition, calling it “The Rise of the Matriarch,” We spent a month on the road in magical South Africa, visiting three different provinces and eight diverse conservation projects, to which, as always, a portion of the participants fees was donated.  Through our enthusiastic team on the “Rise of the Matriarch” female travellers and another all female trip we have helped raised more than R290 000. (US$18 000) for conservation projects in 2022.

Our days began in the early hours as crested francolin, hadeda ibis and other birds called us from our beds beckoning us to get out there and start the day. Through breath-taking landscapes and memorable wildlife encounters, we shared endless cups of coffee and rooibos tea, just a little sip of gin, swapped stories and belly laughed our way through to nights where we spent sitting around the fire under the bright Milky Way surrounded by an explosion of starts, watching the moon waxing towards full. This was reflected in our human interactions as our friendships grew and our hearts filled with inspiration to protect this natural beauty around us. Many nights, we fell asleep listening to a lullaby of nightjars, whooping hyena, yelping jackals, and often, the deep, iconic roar of lion. A great way to finish a perfect day.

Travelling north in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), we headed up the wild South African coastline into the heart of Zululand, where we visited the Zululand Conservation Trust Orphanage and were able to donate money towards milk powder and rhino pellets for three small, recently orphaned rhino.


Pangolin are some of the most endangered and rare animals in Africa. Very few people ever see them. However, we were fortunate to stay at Phinda Bayete Camp and experience vital Pangolin rehabilitation conservation work that they do in collaboration with African Pangolin Working Group. Our donation was towards a scale needed to weigh Pangolin and also to the monitoring and Satellite tagging of these beautifully shy little creatures, enabling researchers to keep them safe.

At Pongola Game Reserve, we provided support to the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project and spent time with passionate conservationist Suzette Boshoff who is the Pongola rhino and elephant monitor and veterinarian Doctor Heinz Kohrs, who is involved in the collaring and notching of black rhino as part of the DNA collection and genetic research project. Our money went towards a collar for a rhino and helicopter fees for monitoring these prehistoric mammals.

There is a magic in South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park. It was here, in the heart of the Lowveld of Mpumalanga province, that we participated in elephant conservation work with the Elephants Alive organisation. This allows researchers to monitor the movement of elephants. Elephant DNA samples are also taken, which, in addition to blood and faecal sampling, allows researchers to monitor the diet and health of elephants. To date, Blue Sky Society trust has taken part in 19 collaring events with Dr Michelle  Henley and her amazing team, and we were happy to, once again, be in a position to donate an elephant collar during our visit.

We also spent an exciting time with researchers from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) African Wild Dog Expansion Project in Limpopo, where we donated towards Wild Dog Conservation and donated a camera trap to the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR) Ground Hornbill project to help monitor the nests of this endangered bird. Another wild bird project we visited in Limpopo, was EWT’s Birds of Prey Programme where they monitor the extremely rare and seldom seen Pels Fishing Owls. There is also a Vulture rehab programme, where they rescue and rehabilitated birds that have been victims of poisoning incidences. EWT will be a major beneficiary in our upcoming trip in May 2023

Limpopo is famous for its Baobab trees, large, mystical trees, which, due to their root like branches, are often described as “upside-down trees”. These trees seemed to reflect the rather upside-down lives many of us have recently experienced during Covid19 and its aftermath. Happily, it is one of the missions of these trips, to allow women to immerse themselves in nature, right themselves, and feel purposefully alive again. This means that, even though there is a serious aspect to these journeys, it is also about having fun on 4×4 adventures and camping wild. The mopane bushveld was touched with autumn gold, and was also green and thick due to the late rains. This is wildness at its best. Along the beautiful water courses, screeching brown headed parrots, plump green pigeons and the occasional, brown-hooded kingfisher occupied the tall jackal berry trees, while north of Punda Maria camp, the landscape is punctuated with big, eerily lime-green fever trees, majestic mahogany and nyala berry trees.

Now more than ever people are feeling the need to reconnect with themselves and each other, and many of us instinctively know, that nature is a great healer – especially when coupled with companionable fireside laughter, good food, and fresh air. We know we need to slow down, listen to the sound of nature around us, breathe in her fragrances, and enjoy the truly beautiful smaller things in life. This is one sure-fire way of taking care of all those aspects of one’s life, while also making invaluable contributions to conserving and protecting the world we live in.

EXPERIENCE South Africa – If you would like to experience an exciting trip of this nature, then a Journey with Purpose is for you. I am currently planning two expeditions, one a more marine based trip which will include rare sea turtle research work in February 2023, and another which will include more elephant conservation work in July 2023. If you are interested in hearing more and doing something with purpose, then please contact me at or on our social media platforms or website