Charlotte Opperman

Charlotte Opperman

Charlotte arrived at Aardvark Safaris as the fourth employee when the company was just a year old.  Twenty years on she still thanks her lucky stars that the day she decided to return to work coincided with Aardvark’s advertisement in the local newspaper.  Her degree in town planning has little relevance to safaris, but her pre-children career in PR and marketing, including a stint working in Hong Kong, has been put to good use in Aardvark’s marketing department.

A keen horsewoman Charlotte rides and competes regularly.  A recent equestrian challenge has been learning to ride side saddle – she’s now reasonably accomplished and able to hold her own competing against those riding astride.

She first visited Africa on honeymoon in Kenya, when a love of Africa (and hopefully her husband) was born.  She has since visited Botswana, Namibia and the Seychelles. Charlotte has also tested a number of our trips with her family – first travelling with her children when they were pre-teen and reports they can still be tempted by safari now they’re in their mid-twenties!  So far they have sampled Mauritius, South Africa (twice), Kenya, Zambia and Malawi so she is a great person to talk to if wanting to travel to Africa with children.  Her desire for comfort in unspoilt surroundings makes her a good yardstick when planning a safari for many of our clients. Her close attention to detail ensures our clients never leave home unprepared.

Favourite African experience

Has to be my very first educational trip with Aardvark which was a mobile camping safari in the Okavango Delta. I’d foolishly claimed that camping wasn’t my thing when I first arrived in the office so sending me on this utterly wonderful mobile trip was the perfect way to prove me wrong. Uncharted Africa run the Rolls Royce of mobile camping safaris, with huge tents, cast iron beds, proper linen, glorious food and a drinks cabinet to rival any you’d find in a five star hotel. The guiding was superb, the wildlife prolific and I came back completely hooked.  So much so that, some 15 years later, I repeated that very first trip – it was every bit as good.

Favourite animal

Nothing beats giraffe for the elegant, graceful way they roam the plains – I could watch them for hours. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a night at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi where these gorgeous creatures poke their heads through the windows to be fed cattle nuts – maybe not true safari, but one of my real African highlights none-the-less.

Favourite three camps

Chongwe River House views

It’s a private house rather than safari camp that is currently top of my favourite list. Chongwe River House which, from the outside, looks similar to something Fred Flintsone might have built, is quite extraordinary. Step inside and you’re transported into a safari wonderland: the beautifully appointed interior opens to a garden and pool deck with views over the river where all manner of wildlife comes to drink. The private boat is great for river cruises, there are picnics on sandy islands, and a private vehicle and guide to explore the park. Fabulous for a family or groups of friends travelling together.

Rekero Camp children viewing elephants from safari drive Masai Mara, Kenya

Rekero Camp in the Masai Mara, which has long been an Aardvark favourite, is high up on my personal list too. Our boys, who at the time of my visit were nine and 11, were treated like kings by the Masai guides – they left with bow and arrows, Masai clubs, a smattering of Swahili, and memories that will last a lifetime.

Horseback safari riding with giraffe at Ant's Nest South Africa

Ant’s Nest in South Africa was so good we’d booked to return before we left. There’s horse riding, cycling, walking, swimming, and great wildlife – but it’s the other bits that make it so special. The kids squealing with delight as they galloped up and down the grass runway, being given a machete (to their mother’s alarm) and going out to help clear a new road, riding pillion behind owner and guide extraordinaire Ant Baber to check on his sable herd. I could go on and on, but words will never do justice to this magical lodge.

Countries visited

Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa

Tropical islands visited

Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives

On arranging holidays

Most of my time at Aardvark is spent on marketing activities, but when time permits, nothing gives me greater pleasure than organising a family safari. I know from personal experience how wonderful it is to show children this beautiful continent and if you get the trip right, safari is one of the best family holidays ever. As a mother I know what it’s like to worry about the little things – will we be safe, what happens if someone’s ill – and am always happy to chat for as long as it takes to make sure we get exactly the right trip for you.