“Travel is part of my makeup – it is in my DNA. My father was from Italy and my mother, Australian born but of German/Irish heritage. I grew up listening to mum’s tales of exploring America by bus and sailing from Australia to Japan on board an ocean liner. At the age of 10 our family embarked on a two month round the world adventure that ultimately set the scene for future travels. Every chance I had (weekends and school holidays) I worked at a tourist information centre so it was only natural that once school was over, I would choose to forge a career in the travel industry.”
Annie has explored much of the world – from India to Antarctica and Madagascar to South America – resulting in a knowledge of our destinations that is second to none. As a tour leader she is an enthusiastic and entertaining travelling companion. Her strong connection with Africa was ignited while escorting a group tour in the late 80’s; a first-class itinerary that highlighted the wild beauty, natural landscapes, cultural diversity and dramatic history of South Africa. The tour included travelling on the luxurious Blue Train to Cape Town; discovering the Garden Route along picturesque coastline; exploring the breathtakingly beautiful Drakensberg Mountains before continuing on to the battlefield sites of the Anglo-Zulu war in KwaZulu-Natal. The final part of the trip was a wildlife safari in the famous Kruger National Park and a visit to the iconic Victoria Falls in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
This was to be the first of many tours that Annie would accompany during her time working as an African specialist in both Australia and the UK. Eventually her passion for wildlife and wilderness would move her to Africa for three years, spending much of this time in Botswana’s Okavango Delta working in safari camps. Her “home” for two years was the famed Mombo Camp located in the heart of the delta and considered today to be one of the best areas for game viewing in Africa.
An invitation from African Wildlife Safaris’ founder Steve Cameron found its way into the camp where Annie was working (it was delivered by private plane) with an offer to join the AWS team back in Australia. Fast forward almost three decades with AWS and Annie’s deep connection with Africa remains, her knowledge unrivalled. Annie returns regularly to visit safari camps and hotels and to negotiate with our safari operators.
When Natural Focus (partner company to AWS) commenced operation in 2000, many more of the great wildlife and wilderness areas of the world were now within reach and Annie’s travel diary soon read like a year’s subscription to National Geographic. Captivated by her first trip in 2002, she became an expert on India, returning almost every year to experience something new, or to escort our Taj Temples & Tigers exclusive small group tour. She has escorted a group to Antarctica, led a group to Canada for grizzly & polar bears, tasted South America and cruised the Galapagos Islands.
As our General Manager Annie continues to drive the company culture and to design fabulous itineraries for clients. If you would like to chat to her about your holiday plans she would love to hear from you.