Garth always finds a way

Garth Jenman

Garth Jenman, founder of Jenman Safaris, used to travel into Africa during varsity breaks and return with loads of curios which he traded for pocket money.

He never tired of travel and after completion of his studies continued his journeys further afield to Europe and beyond. Upon his return he started a diving school and while this enterprise proved successful during the summer month, his clientele disappeared with the summer sun during the winter. “This was in the early nineties,” remembers Garth, “and before the influx of foreign tourists we have now.” So, in order to supplement his income, Garth would travel to Zimbabwe where he stayed in a friend’s lodge and collected jerseys to peddle back in South Africa.

His friend one day suggested Garth take over his walking safaris to Mana Pools in the winter month. Garth took to this opportunity like the proverbial duck to water and soon not only bought into the lodge but also started doing mobile safaris to Victoria Falls, Botswana and Namibia.

Garth started with one vehicle and guided most tours by himself. It wasn’t all plain sailing through; he needed to get to know the workings under the engine hood intimately as he had to be the mechanic as well as tour operator.

The Jenman staff

He persevered and today Jenman Safaris is one of the leading safari travel operators in southern Africa, East Africa and Madagascar with operational offices in Tanzania, Madagascar, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Their vehicle fleet has grown to twenty and the staff complement numbers over 50.

As transport is an integral part of their business, Garth has always focused much of his time and energy on developing the most suitable transport solutions. The common means of passenger transport when Garth started out consisted of a 4×4 derivative with an overland body separate from the cab. Garth was never entirely happy with this configuration, and as there was no alternative on the market, he designed a derivative with a single body and started a search for a supplier to do the manufacturing. He eventually found one who was prepared to try his hand at it but the company unfortunately ran into difficulty some time thereafter. Unperturbed, Garth decided to tackle the process himself and so a new business was born in the form of Jenman Vehicle and Coach Builders!

Client on top of the Jenman vehicle

A stickler for quality, Garth wasn’t happy with the service he had received from the vehicle manufacturer he had used. He realized that his company’s workmanship surpassed many of the previous body jobs that had been done, and he could build to his own specifications and to the highest standards. It was during this time that Stephen Henkel from Sandown Commercial Vehicle Centre Bellville invited Garth to a 4×4 demonstration of the FUSO truck. He was impressed. He had found the perfect match in the FUSO which could comfortably transport 12 people in safety and luxury.

Apart from building vehicles for his own needs, Garth and his team are now also looking at expanding their market. “There are many opportunities to supply other operators,” he says. “We have a unique product, developed and thoroughly tested, ensuring that our customers get only the best.”

Garth believes that his product also offers great opportunities for people wanting the convert their vehicles to campers and welcomes any queries in this regard.

Newsletter Article from “Diesel & Dust” – Sandown Commercial Vehicles (Spring 2012)

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Jenman African Safaris Collection