It was however only until Vincent sold his businesses in Europe, back in 2007, that he started looking at Africa from a business perspective. Initially, he invested in internet/fintech businesses, across Africa; Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Vincent was driven by a passion to invest in African entrepreneurs, using the internet’s potential to come up with African solutions for African issues, as opposed to importing Western business concepts to Africa. Vincent took any opportunity Vincent tried to combine his business trips with further exploration of Africa’s National Parks until one day (end of 2009) he first came across the Kafue National Park in Zambia. The Kafue made an immeasurable impression on him, so much so that it led to the beginning of what we now know as Green Safaris.
We asked Vincent, why the Kafue out of all the places he had previously adventured in Africa. Vincent loved the “untouched and unknown” aspect of the park, despite being the 3rd largest NP in Africa at 22.000 km2. The Kafue only attracts approximately 15,000 visitors annually, as opposed to the Kruger National Park (similar in size) which attracts over 1 million visitors per annum. Vincent explains that when you drive around the park, all the way up top to Busanga or all the way down to Nanzhila the chances are that you will encounter just a handful of other cars along the way. The game, maybe less in your face than in the Masai Mara, but when you spot them, most of the time it will be just you and the game, surrounded by pristine, raw, wilderness. The absence of other people, just adds so much to the feeling of being really close to nature. A major explanation for why the Kafue is Vincent’s absolute favorite park.
Having said that, Vincent knew that parks need visitors to generate the the budget to maintain them. It is also necessary to help the surrounding communities to enable them to find alternative ways to generate money and prevent falling back to poaching.
Kafue NP needed more lodges to; attract more visitors, maintain the park and create new jobs in hospitality. For these reasons Vincent took a step into Africa to invest in both old and new lodges in the park. This the beginning of Green Safaris, as a group looking to expand its Green Footprint initiatives in other parks and countries.
Green Safaris aims to also set the standard by minimalizing the impact of tourism in itself. How? we asked Vincent, “by using, where possible, only natural building materials, coming from the immediate vicinity, demonstrated with building the Ila Safari Lodge Boma and staff houses using sandbag-building, and minimalizing the use of concrete and steel. Other steps we have taken include Installing a solar plant, to harvest the suns energy instead of diesel, and carefully taking out the existing flora during the build, but replanting everything afterward. Perhaps most striking so far has been the introduction of the very first electrical game drive vehicle (eLandy), for zero-impact ‘silent safaris’, which was built back home in the Netherlands and then shipped it to Zambia.” In his own words, “people seldomly get to enjoy the sounds of the bush, when they are on a game-drive, and this is where the idea came from initially, to enhance the guest experience, whilst introducing sustainable technology”, perhaps the best way to describe Green Safaris green ethos and guiding principle.