My new company – African safaris that make a difference

Happy new year Africa-philes, elephant lovers and friends of the planet!

I’m kicking off the new year with some exciting news. It’s been in the works for a little while, and won’t be a surprise to many of you. This year I’m finally turning my love of Africa into a business. Many of you have been on safaris based on my advice on where to go and what to do in the past and some of you have even joined me on safari. Now you can actually book your African safari through my new company, Matson and Ridley Pte Ltd, a fully licensed travel agency, and join me in the land we all love for a very different kind of African experience.

On safari with the family at Rocktail Bay, South Africa

The author’s husband Andy and then 1 year old son Solo on safari at Rocktail Bay, South Africa

I’ve always loved sending people on safari in Africa, because I know for a fact that it can change lives – not just the folks who go on the trip, who get a mind-blowing experience, but also the lives of the local people and wildlife in Africa. Tourism done right, focused on communities in otherwise poverty stricken and poached areas, makes a huge difference. The money it generates can lead to schools, better health and livelihoods, jobs and training. It can be a poverty-killer and a wildlife saviour.

Rekero Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara

Rekero Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara

But not all tourism companies take the community-based approach, and not all of them generate genuine benefits.  If you’re trying to decide on a safari company, it’s hard to know which ones truly walk the conservation walk, as well as talk the talk. My motivation in starting Matson and Ridley Safaris is to enable you to go on a safari that is not only a wonderful experience for you and your friends or family, but also generates real benefits in Africa. This is based on twenty years of experience of living and working in conservation, and lots of my own travel (often with the family in tow) to safari lodges across Africa.  I’m still a conservationist first peeps, and that’s why I’m doing this.  The older I get, the more I realise that I can make the biggest difference by working for myself, not for an organisation.

Himba women in north-west Namibia (T. Matson)

Himba women in north-west Namibia (T. Matson)

Which brings me to the other reason I set up the company…  For many years I’ve been doing my conservation work for free, and the commissions I earn through safari bookings will be funding the costs of this work (just to be clear, it won’t cover a salary, just the costs of doing the work – no one ever got rich being a conservationist!). Shortly, I’ll be launching the Let Elephants Be Elephants campaign with Asian TV star, Nadya Hutagalung (Aussies, Nadya is Asia’s equivalent of Jennifer Hawkins), which involves a documentary and public service announcements to be screened on the Fox Network across Asia, as well as a social media campaign (we’re already on Facebook and Twitter (@Letelephantsbe) – so please join us there).

The author with then 5 month old Solo at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

The author with then 5 month old Solo at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

I’ve provided a few suggested itineraries on my website here, from the jewel that is Botswana’s Okavango Delta, to the Elephant Dance safari in Kenya and the Best of Namibia trip that visits some of my favourite camps in one of the world’s most remote and extreme environments (like Serra Cafema – which has to be seen to be believed).  Having taken my own kids on safari and been there while pregnant, I can also recommend some very good options for families with little or no malaria risk.

Namibia - there's nothing like it on earth (Photo: Wilderness Safaris)

Namibia – there’s nothing like it on earth (Photo: Wilderness Safaris)

In addition to customising safaris on a case by case basis, towards the end of next year, and again in mid 2015, I’ll be personally leading a trip to one of these destinations.  So where do you want to go?!  Leave a comment here or drop me a line here to let me know where you’re interested in going – Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Congo… something else?!  The trips I lead will be limited to 12 people as I think everyone gets more out of it when it’s a small group, so register your interest early.

The author with the family (Solo aged 3) in Zimbabwe (credit: Karen Paolillo, Turgwe Hippo Trust)

The author with the family (Solo aged 3) in Zimbabwe (credit: Karen Paolillo, Turgwe Hippo Trust)

In the meantime, if you or anyone you know is interested in going to Africa, and you want to make a difference with your hard earned cash while on holidays, please drop me a line here on my safari contact form, let me know your budget and what you’re interested in, and let’s get started planning your trip of a lifetime!



About the Author
Dr Tammie Matson is a zoologist, author and director of Matson & Ridley Safaris.
  1. Tammie

    Thanks Bud! Appreciate the support 🙂 I’ve added you to my subscriber list.

  2. Bud Higgins

    Hi Tammie, Congrats on ‘Matson & Ridley’ – please copy me in on future tours – Although I am fairly frantic with my feeding scheme in Cape Town, I am still bringing in small groups- I may be able at times to push some your way.
    All the best for your planning
    Warm Wishes from the streets of Cape Town.

  3. Robert Livingstone-Ward

    Thanks, Tammie. Awesome photos on your website, too! R.

  4. Tammie

    Hi Susan – look forward to taking you on safari to Botswana later this year! For someone with your passion for wildlife, there’s nothing like the Okavango. I’ve put your name on the list and will be in touch with prices etc soon 🙂

  5. Susan van der Vloodt

    Hi Tammie,

    What a treat to be able to go on a safari with you. Your passion for Africa and knowledge will add that much more to an already great experience!
    Both the Delta and Namibia are on my “wish list”, couldn’t be more perfect.
    I would like to sign up for the 2014 trip to the Okavango Delta. Hopefully my husband can join but he is not sure about dates yet.

    Best, Susan

  6. Tammie

    Hey that is fortuitous Robert and congratulations on 30 years of wedded bliss! I’m slightly in awe of your 2014 travel plans – how do you manage to get around so much? You are truly living the ‘live in the moment’ philosophy I so admire. I’ll lock you in for the mid-2015 trip, which is Namibia at this stage, but could change if we get more interest in the Okavango. Either way, it will be to an awesome part of Africa that I know is making a difference in conservation, and I’ll be calling on some of my old mates over there to come visit and share their knowledge along the way. Looking forward to it already!

  7. Tammie

    Hi Skye
    What a shame your hubby won’t join you! Not to worry, you’ll have an extraordinary trip with a mate so great to hear you’re still planning on an African adventure! I’m thinking of taking a group to the Okavango in late Nov/early Dec this year (2014), when my youngest son Shep (currently only 2 months old) is a year old. I’m grounded before that as family comes first, as I’m sure, as a parent, you appreciate 🙂 But that gives us lots of planning time! I’m thinking about doing a northwest Namibia trip around June 2015, but of course if we have lots of interest in doing the Okavango instead I’d be happy to change plans. Both are brilliant options, to be honest – you really can’t go wrong with either. The Delta in Botswana has the rich, game-dense waterways while Namibia has the jaw-dropping desert landscapes and arid-adapted wildlife (plus the fascinating Himba people, amongst others). Anyway I’ve got your name on the list Skye!

  8. Skye Roberts

    Hi Tammie, a few months ago you gave me a few recommendations for safaris for families. But my husband is adamant he won’t go & my son will still be too young to go on game drives, so I was thinking to just go with a friend mid 2015. Which is when you’ve said you may be heading up one- in which case, YES PLEASE! Could I please register my interest for that. And I think my dream visit would be the Okavango- looks like heaven 🙂

  9. Robert Livingstone-Ward

    Hi Tammie. Really happy to see you get this up and running. I said to my wife, Tricia, last night at dinner (7.1.14 is not only the birth of your new company, but also our 30th wedding anniversary) that I’d like to go on an extraordinary safari with you (and Andy and the boys?). This year (2014) is booked for me (we have 4 weeks in Africa in April/May, with Tricia’s mum too; then I’ll walk the Kokoda Track in August with my friend Michelle McFadyen leading; and finally catch up with one of our sons, James, and his fiance, Selena, in the US/Canada towards the of the year), so it will have to be 2015. Either the Delta or Namibia – both sound fabulous (apart from Walvis Bay, I’ve been to neither). You have spoken about Serra Cafema with such passion in the past; I’ve read Sally Henderson’s books on Namibia; Peter Allison had such adventures in the Okavango; and Tony Park speaks highly of both, which do I choose? And then I would like to get that iconic photo of elephants walking in the shadow of snow-capped Mt kilimanjaro. – decisions, decisions! Anyway, I hope this takes off for you, and keep in touch for 2015. Cheers. Robert.

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