Meet Our Characters: Olivia Partridge

Pru Allison
February 11, 2019

What’s your position at Natural Selection?

“I work in sales and marketing for Europe and South America.”

 

What does your job entail?

“I have to say, I personally think I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. I get to travel around Europe and South America meeting with travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and other suppliers to tell them what is new at any of our camps, what wildlife has been spotted and what plans we have for the future, so that they can promise their guests the safari of a lifetime with Natural Selection. I also spend time at all of the camps, so that I have first hand knowledge of everything that happens on the ground. I get to combine the best bits of being in the bush, with the best bits of being in some wonderful cities around the world – who says you can’t have your cake and eat it!”

 

What’s your background?

“I have always been a bit of a travelling nomad. I spent my childhood in South East Asia, predominantly Thailand, which is probably where I developed my love of unbearably spicy food and elephants! Since then I’ve lived in France, Italy, Australia, Uganda and Rwanda and have no plans to stop seeing the rest of the world anytime soon. I love meeting new people and learning about new cultures, which is probably why I decided to study languages at Bristol University.”

 

What attracted you to the safari industry?

“I have always loved animals. Growing up we always had animals in the house. We were constantly rescuing street cats and dogs and the cats were permanently having more kittens! We had tortoises, hamsters, mice, cockateels, guinea pigs, rabbits and horses! So it seemed only natural that I was drawn to a career centred around wildlife. My first foray into safaris was in Uganda in 2013 when I joined a safari company specialising in Mountain Gorilla safaris. After the first week I was hooked – on safaris, and on Africa!”

 

What drew you to Natural Selection?

“I have never been a cog in a large machine. I love working for small family run businesses where you can be your whacky self, really get to know everyone in the team and have a significant impact in your work. I first talked about Natural Selection with head of sales Peter Allison in Morocco at PURE and was instantly intrigued. I loved the idea of working with some of the most experienced individuals in the industry for a completely new and exciting company. The possibility of being part of something from the very beginning is incredible. I also love the work ethic, the passion and the responsibility to conservation. I am so blessed to have seen all the wildlife and landscapes I have seen in my lifetime – it would be heartbreaking if I wasn’t able to share that with my children one day. If it was no longer there for future generations to enjoy. It is the responsibility of everyone on this planet to do their part, and I hope that I am doing mine with Natural Selection.”

 

What, in your opinion, makes a safari such a magical escape as opposed to other holidays?

“I first went on safari in Tanzania with my family about 10 years ago and it blew me away. Everything was so big – the African Elephants were significantly larger than the Asian elephants I was used to, the giraffes were taller than any other animal I had ever seen, and the lions have such a huge presence. Since then I have also learned to appreciate the smaller animals and birds. The best thing about being on safari is you always manage to find something new and exciting that you have never seen before. There is also something so real about being out in the bush. You feel an incredible connection to the earth that I haven’t found anywhere else.”

 

Which is your favourite Natural Selection camp and why?

“Ooo that’s a very difficult question! I loved all of them for many different reasons. Sable Alley is wonderful for game viewing and I had hippos chomping and elephants noisily eating right outside my tent during the night. Skybeds is such a cool experience – watching zebras and elephants come and go from the waterhole as the sun sets is magical. We saw tonnes of ellies at Meno a Kwena swimming and playing in the Boteti and submerging themselves completely with just their trunks as snorkels. But I have to say, the deafening silence of the salt pans at Jack’s Camp was bewitching. I’m slightly obsessed with stars and I have never before seen stars like we did in the Kalahari. I felt like I could have swum through the milky way. We had such an incredible morning with the meerkats and had great fun on the quad bikes and even cycled across the salt pans.  – I love being active, and at Jack’s Camp we were certainly that!”

 

What’s been your most memorable sighting at a Natural Selection camp?

“While we are staying at Sable Alley there was a lioness and cub spotted in front of camp. We rushed to try and find them but managed to get very stuck trying to get over to the island they had been spotted on. After we eventually got out of the mud, and rescued the rescue car that had also got stuck in the mud, the lions were nowhere to be seen! We thought our luck had run out, so returned to camp hungry and slightly deflated. Shortly after lunch, one of the guides, KG, came running up to me on my way back from my tent with a huge grin on his face saying they had found the lions… we took off in the jeep, skilfully drove through the muddy patch that had foiled us earlier that morning, past a breeding herd of elephants that held us up momentarily and then we finally found them. Lying in the long grass we spotted 3 lions – an adult male, a lioness and a young juvenile male of about 2.5-3 years. The adult male was grooming his son and playfully batting him with his paws as they rolled in the grass. It was so special to see. What was even more interesting is that when young males reach sexual maturity at about 2, the older males within the pride will kick them out. The fact that this father was still nurturing his own cub was very moving.”