Adrian Coley, a goal-driven individual has spent his career ensuring guests and clients get a real grip on what a Zambian safari is all about.
Owner of Flatdogs Camp located on the border of the South Luangwa National Park, Adrian spent years on various industry boards such as the Luangwa Safaris Association. Recognising the importance of shared responsibility, he has dedicated his career to showcasing some of Africa’s jewels. Adrian is passionate about Zambia, Safaris as well as the tourism industry – what better way than offering clients the opportunity to experience the beautiful area than at his very own spot in the wild!
Where did your love for travel start?
With my family. My grandmother emigrated to Australia in 1963, and started life from nothing. She and her three sons who went with her would regularly come to the UK and talk about their life in this faraway place. When I was 10, my father took me and my brother to visit his family and we spent 3 or 4 weeks driving around the rural towns and outback country. We slept under tarps and cooked on fires. My uncles lived pretty hippie-like lives and this fascinated me – probably the start of my travel bug
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
For me, it’s very obviously the people you meet, but equally, the people you work with day to day. I also enjoy other industry friends and colleagues who all have interesting stories to tell.
What is most attractive is the diversity. When you run a safari lodge in rural Zambia, your days are never the same. Problems are always seen as challenges and solutions celebrated. One day I might be working out how to replace a roof structure on one of the rooms in time for guests arriving tomorrow (if you are lucky!) and the next working with the local Chief to finalise the details of lease on the conservation areas around our property.
We work hand in hand with the communities and conservation organisations, so you are not just running a hotel but also helping to arrange school sponsorships, forest patrols, community safaris, support the National Parks authority to grade roads and making sure our facilities have clean running water and a 24 hours power supply. In most parts of the world those things are taken for granted.
What is your favorite destination/place to visit and why?
Apart from the South Luangwa of course! Msambweni Beach on the South Kenyan Coast. We live about as far away from the sea as you can get in Africa and have lots of access to the bush. So, the sea is very alluring to us. And we love food. At the private house we have stayed in, there are fishermen who are part of the Turtle Conservation Program that operates in the marine reserve. They fish sustainably and bring the most beautiful fresh seafood to the chef at the house every day. We live busy lives, so to wake up early, walk on the beach, swim in the Indian ocean, see very few people and then eat some of the best seafood you will ever eat for lunch and do it all again in the afternoon makes it my favourite place. Lying in bed with the sound of the waves crashing on the beak is something special.
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out.
The Geraltar ranges in Ethiopia where I climbed up to the Abuna Yemata Guh church. This church is hewn out of rocks 2500ft up a cliff. I suspect it is probably the most dangerous thing I have ever done, but was totally exhilarating. I was there in the rainy season and went with the priest and 6 guides on what I thought was going to be a tough hike up a mountain. When I had to take my shoes off to get my toes in the foot holds (worn into the rock over hundreds of years) to climb the shear rock face I really knew I had taken on something special. I then had to walk along a tiny ledge with a drop, hundreds of metres high. This was all done without ropes or harnesses and took your breath away. When I arrived the frescos in the church, the sense of achievement coupled with the actual church visit was incredible. We then had to descend in what was the start of a rain storm.
Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives… or that isn’t given enough…
Don’t try to do too much. Enjoy the places you are in. Forget your camara and phone and take it in. Don’t always feel the need to be busy and experiencing something else. Enjoy the moment.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: natural phenomenon – eg. a massive fig tree covered entirely in caterpillars which you only see if you look closely, but are all moving ever so slightly
- Like to taste: Hot Toast from homemade bread, melted butter & marmite
- Like to feel: A warm breeze
- Like to hear: The silence of nighttime with all of its sounds
- Like to smell: The first rains coming
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
The Elephant Ethogram – https://elephantvoices.org/latest-news-updates/4624-launch-of-the-elephant-ethogram An amazing resource for anyone interested in elephants.