Victoria Beard, co-founder and co-owner of Nungu African Safaris, started life in the travel industry in 2000 rather by accident when she began organising high-end honeymoons for her financial services colleagues in London.
She was working here as a stockbroker after a psychology degree at Exeter University, but for the first 25 years of her life had lived in South Africa and travelled widely across the sub-continent to the key wildlife areas and beaches of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. As a result she was ideally suited to advise on the best safaris and beach holidays and friends of friends soon began seeking her out.
Victoria later married her Scottish husband Paul at an intimate bush lodge in South Africa’s Kruger National Park and honeymooned at a remote beach camp in Maputaland. Ever since then the couple have continued exposing their two children to Victoria’s African heritage and enjoying safaris and beach holidays to boot.
The regular scouting trips and continued advice and holiday bookings for friends soon lead to the formal creation of Nungu African Safaris. Nungu, the xiTsonga word for porcupine, symbolises loyalty and long term relationships (porcupines are monogamous, and closely bonded partnerships are characteristic of the species) and this is a philosophy that sits at the heart of the business.
Victoria and Paul visit southern Africa every four to five months to scout the best locations and to stay up to date with the most recent trends in game viewing and beach conditions to ensure they always have the latest scoop on where is best. This intimate knowledge is not limited to game lodges, bush camps and beach destinations, but also includes the urban experience, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg where they are always able to advise on the best restaurant on Kloof Street below Table Mountain, or on Jo’burg’s trendy Fourth Avenue in Parkhurst.
Victoria’s African heritage remains core to the business and Nungu is a staunch supporter of community and conservation projects through the Wilderness Wildlife Trust. A percentage of the cost of each trip organised by Nungu is donated to the Trust to contribute to projects that specifically help develop rural capacity through training and education projects, and also those that help understand ecological questions that contribute to conservation. See ‘make a difference’.