Johan Radcliffe describes himself as a “family man, adventurer and entrepreneur”. Fifteen years ago, Johan’s love of adventure led him to start his own adventure travel company. He has helped travellers from all over discover amazing experiences in South Africa. We asked him to share where his passion for travel started and where adventure tourism is going.
Q & A with Johan:
Where did your love for travel start?
I was blessed to have parents who loved travelling, especially in South Africa and our neighbouring countries. Being a difficult teenager, I did not always appreciate the long road trips, but they certainly laid the foundation for my career in travel. Now we put our kids through the same pain. Hopefully, in 20 years, they will look back and appreciate the holidays.
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
The money! I know you all find that funny. To be honest, it’s about sharing what we have to offer. There is a reason we are the destination with the most return travellers. When you sell insurance, your clients will never be smiling; it is a grudge purchase. When you sell a holiday, clients may arrive a little stressed, but invariably will send you a letter of appreciation after their memorable trip to Southern Africa.
What is your favourite place to visit?
The Okavango Swamp wetlands in Botswana. It is one of the few places without fences in Africa where you can see the animals roaming free like they did millennia ago. The combination of water and land activities makes for an awesome safari experience. The policy of keeping visitor numbers low also contributes significantly to the experience.
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences.
I am spoilt for choice here, but I would have to return to Botswana to answer this question. We embarked on a very different family holiday in Botswana a few years ago. The kids, in our eyes, were just the right ages, 8 and 5 years old. Yes, it is tough growing up in the Radcliffe family. We left our car in Maun and cycled to the top of the Okavango panhandle; this took about a week. We then climbed onto a flat bottom boat and spent a week on the water, trans Okavango back to our car. The kids will never forget pushing their bikes down elephant paths to find campsites and listening to the Lions roar at night.
Your best travel tip?
Get out of the car! Another one of my secrets is that I use Google Earth to plan my holidays.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling, what do you…
- Like to see: Any historic building where I am the only tourist exploring it
- Like to taste: Authentic Thai dishes
- Like to feel: Warm tropical water
- Like to hear: The African night sounds while you are camping
- Like to smell: The potato bush. I’m not sure of the scientific name, but that is what we call it
Where should travellers get inspiration?
This one is easy; I produce the best resource out there. It is called Dirty Boots (www.dirtyboots.co.za)! Here you will find any commercial adventure available to travellers visiting South Africa.
Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.
I love classical music; great concerts bring me to tears. I hate social media.
What do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa?
Travel shows will return to normality because they evolved that way; people need personal contact to create confidence in long-term business relationships. Having WTM in my city and making it the most accessible travel show to attend is what I love most about it. I can sleep at home with my family.