Black and white illustration of Maria O'Sullivan's headshot

Maria O’Sullivan

Head of Africa Travel Design

I’ve always had a passion for travel, sparked by postcards from my adventurous Irish cousins and copies of travel magazines which I treasured until they fell apart. My wanderlust drives me to plan exciting adventures, whether wandering through a Fronsac vineyard or camping in the Zanskar Valley. With over two decades in luxury travel, I now specialize in Africa, a continent that never ceases to amaze me. My first taste of Africa was at Diani Beach in Kenya and Tsavo National Park, where the hospitality and charm left a lasting impression.

Africa

My most memorable trip

Rwanda

Words fail to capture what I felt on my trip to Rwanda. Meeting the mountain gorillas was an experience that surpassed all my wildest dreams and the expert guidance I received went far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I've particularly enjoyed staying at Wilderness Magashi and Wilderness Bisate - arguably some of the best properties in all Africa.

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On my bucket list

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has long been on my bucket list, driven by my fervent desire to experience the untamed beauty of Mana Pools National Park and immerse myself in its breathtaking wilderness.

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See where I’ve travelled

Aerial view of Victoria Falls

My favourite trip

An African Trilogy

This fabulous two-week journey from Kenya to Victoria Falls and Cape Town offers the opportunity to explore the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of Victoria Falls, enjoy an in-depth culinary exploration of Cape Town and possibly my favourite part - sample the wine of the famous Winelands.

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My favourite hotel

Serra Cafema

Serra Cafema offered a truly exceptional and immersive experience that will forever hold a special place in my heart. Throughout my stay, the lodge's team was extraordinary, going above and beyond to ensure our comfort and enjoyment. My guide, in particular, was exceptional, arranging an unforgettable sundowner experience at the Angolan border. However, the pinnacle of this adventure was when we embarked on quad bikes to visit the Himba community. The encounter with the Himba people was deeply moving and etched itself into my memory forever.

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My top tips

If you find yourself in Cape Town, I highly recommend the Sunday night jazz session at Openwine - a personal favourite bar of mine worldwide!

I always emphasise to travellers the importance of investing in a good pair of binoculars. Although your guide will likely have a pair to share, having your own handy ensures you never miss out on those incredible sights and moments.

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For a seamless travel experience, I highly recommend allowing plenty of time to obtain your visa. Planning ahead and giving yourself ample time to process your visa application ensures a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Before visiting a destination, take the time to learn a few local words - it can make a significant difference! By familiarising yourself with the local language, even just a few basic phrases, you'll find that it goes a long way in connecting with the locals and showing respect for their culture.