How did Jenman go from a two-person-and-a-dog company to having 100+ employees? We interviewed Garth Jenman, Managing Director of Jenman African Safaris, and Katja Quasdorf, Product and Marketing Director, to find out.
What made you start your own travel company?
Garth: After travelling in Africa, South East Asia and Australia, I started running dive charters in Cape Town and then moved to Zimbabwe every winter for the safari season. I enjoyed showing travellers what Africa had to offer. Plus, I’ve always had a passion for exploring new destinations!
Katja: I didn’t start Jenman… I just arrived! Garth even forgot that I was joining him as an intern in June 2003 (and subsequently forgot to pick me up at the airport!). I think Garth started his own travel company as he has loads of passion and a can-do-attitude. Also, he never – and I mean never – takes no for an answer.
How did the company grow to having over 100 employees?
Garth: I didn’t imagine we’d ever grow to this size. It’s thanks to our hard working staff and having a business partner like Katja that drives the business forward. I’m full of ideas and Katja is the one who works out if they are crazy or doable. We evolve as a company – and as our clients’ needs change, we change along with them.
Katja: We started with three people, a dog and two Toyota Hiaces. Garth built his own customised Land Cruiser and that’s when the business really took off. Jenman has never stagnated due to Garth’s constant flow of ideas. Our new venture, Hideaways, has always been a dream: to run our own safari lodges and provide guests with an unparalleled experience. This journey has been awesome and I’m still enjoying the ride!
What do you hope guests take away from one of your safaris?
Garth: An unforgettable experience and an appreciation for Africa’s history, cultures and wildlife.
Katja: To tell the world about Africa. To want to return to this wonderful continent. Having guests give their tour operator at home a great review about Jenman is a constant aim of ours – because the best way we can thank our operators for their trust is to make their clients happy.
What’s your favourite country or place to visit in Africa?
Garth: Zimbabwe offers such diversity: amazing wildlife, splendid national parks, the nicest people you will ever meet, and then the mighty Victoria Falls where I met my wife in the nineties.
Katja: Madagascar will always be in my heart. I have discovered its hidden corners and had a couple of “David Attenborough” moments while exploring the island with my husband.
What makes Jenman different from other tour operators?
Garth: We always looked at a long-term strategy. We run small group safaris in three African countries, use our own guides and vehicles, which no other operator does, and we’ve created a great reputation in the industry and with travellers.
Katja: For me, Jenman stands for passion. It’s grown from something small to something significant without soap opera stories (okay, maybe one or two!). Maybe the fact that we are not scared of change makes us different? We’re proud of the strong partnerships we’ve built with our agents and suppliers.
Whatever happened to that dog?
Garth: Poor old Jack. He spent his last days happily running up and down the beach in Betty’s Bay!