Interview: Denise Brown – Part I

Denise talks to The 88 about how her love for Africa came about and what caused her to found Sababu Safaris in Tanzania.

So Denise, tell everyone about yourself and your love for Africa.

I’m German, was born in Munich and ended up in new York City seven years ago.

However, something has always drawn me to Africa. I’ve always had a huge urge to go there!

I decided to go by myself, and I felt that it was meant to be that nobody would go with me. Travel is always more meaningful when you go by yourself. And while I was in Tanzania, I can say that I didn’t miss anything!

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I felt at home, like I belonged.

For 11 days, I spent time in the Tanzanian bush with my guide Robert, and we became really good friends. When I was leaving, it felt like someone had ripped my heart out. I can’t explain it, it felt like I had left half of myself in Africa.

Sababu Experience_Arusha Neema Village (Orphanage) 2

Why Sababu Safaris?

After my trip, something had changed inside of me and I wanted to keep the connection with Tanzania alive.

I’d gone for the wildlife and scenery – but left most in love with the people.

However, I’d stayed in touch with Robert. And in our conversations he always talked about wanting to help the local people. After throwing ideas around, naturally Sababu Safaris came about.

Robert has more than 18 years experience as a guide in Tanzania. He knows everything about Tanzania; the wildlife, the national parks – its mind-blowing! For me, I’ve always worked in the entertainment industry dealing with logistics, and I love doing that. So it was just a natural thing that came about.

Sababu Safaris_Team

And now, we want to do something that has meaning and involves local communities on the ground.

There are so many different safari companies out there, that pick you up, take you out into the bush and you get to experience the stunning wildlife. However, the only locals you might meet would be the guide and if you’re lucky – a very commercialised Maasai experience.

I felt that there was a gap in the market, where companies would want to engage the local communities on the ground; so you can get to know the Tanzanian people, experience their warmth, and understand their challenges.

Honestly, I figure it was meant to be that the two of us met on that trip.


What do you say to people that criticise your intentions as “white saviour complex?”

Africa is a colonial continent, and the colonialism has destroyed a lot of the culture.

I have a connection to Robert and the people that I met on my trip – to me, there are already organizations on the ground that do great work. These organizations simply need more resources; so for me Sababu Safaris simply connects the tourist experience with the moral purpose of some of these NGO’s.

As a Westerner, we might have good intentions – but it is important to understand the full context of local experience on the ground.

We’ve partnered up with organizations that are doing great work on the ground and our aim is to help them gain more resources by connecting people with other people.

Central Serengeti_AcaciaTree

Denise Brown is the co-founder of Sababu Safaris; a safari experience focused on conservation and local partnerships.

Find out more about Sababu and book a tour today ~
Site: Sababu Safaris

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