meet the safari girls

safari gals is about sharing travel experiences in the hope that women will choose to visit the places they have stayed and will fall in love with the beautiful continent. today we speak to the founder, simone, whom we have had the honour of collaborating with.


dita top, ophelia skirt, farren maxi, xiola maxi

can you share the story behind how you three came together as a content group and how you developed the safari theme?

the safari gals began during lockdown. i was experiencing serious cabin fever as south africa had just come out of a hard lockdown, during which we were literally not allowed to leave our homes. this ‘softer’ lockdown permitted us to cross provincial borders with special permission for work. on a whim, despite knowing that they were closed, i reached out to several safari lodges to see if any would have me visit. in my email, i mentioned that i had a friend with a significant instagram following and that we could shoot content for her account. the response was overwhelming.

as it turned out, while the lodges were 'officially' closed, they were still operational due to the unique requirements of running a safari lodge. no one knew how long the lockdown would last, and some lodge operators had already realised they would need to pivot to a more local audience. most had never marketed to locals before, so our proposal to shoot content came at the perfect time. given the response, i told my husband that he was being disinvited, and instead, we took a photographer friend along. we did not know if a hard lockdown would be reimposed, so we were committed to shooting as much as we could.


simone in the  xiola maxi


our first trip provided us with two very important insights, both of which served as the catalyst for my business. the first was that safari travel is uniquely suited for women traveling alone or in groups, in a way that other luxury travel is not. it’s incredibly secluded, very private, wonderfully intimate, and the level of personal attention far exceeds what is typical of traditional luxury travel. it can also be as structured or as unstructured as you desire. you can participate in two game drives per day, experiencing each sunrise and sunset, or you can relax at your private plunge pool drinking frozen margaritas while watching elephants at the local watering hole—and everything in between.

the second insight is related to the first. luxury safari lodges have traditionally excelled at showcasing the wildlife experience but have struggled to highlight the lodge experience, which i believe resonates most with women. images of leopards, shot at different lodges, tell you absolutely nothing about why you should choose one lodge over another.


vivi maxi, lupi top, elouise skirtseraphina maxi


from the start, i wanted to tell the safari story from a uniquely female perspective. additionally, i'm not an influencer, and while i'm comfortable in front of a camera, i had no idea how to create social media content. recognising this, i chose to build a team of professional photographers, videographers, makeup artists, and hair artists to develop professional work that could be used by the lodges for their own media purposes. because the lodges were empty initially, this was not a hard sell. the lodges had never focused on the safari experience, and they took full advantage. this meant that during our time at any one property, they might have wanted us to shoot a half-dozen different breakfast experiences over two days.

this presented me with several challenges. the first was wardrobe. for the lodges to get meaningful content, it couldn't look like it was all shot in one day—each experience required different looks. this led to an extension of our business, where we now create content for apparel, jewellery, luggage, and other lifestyle brands. the caveat is that the companies we work with need to make sense in the context of the locations we shoot in and the particular story we are trying to tell. we could easily produce editorial-type content in ball gowns (we tried it once or twice), but it becomes very inauthentic.

the second challenge was that i'm not an influencer, so we weren't selling to my audience, but rather creating beautiful content that needed to be agnostic to me personally. this meant i had to find other girls willing to travel and work with me. i started by reaching out to friends, who then introduced me to their friends, and gradually we built a wonderful sorority of safari gals—a sisterhood of friends who love to travel and who absolutely love each other's company. i am the one constant, with others joining depending on availability and the requirements of the property.


dita top, opehlia skirt, farren maxi, xiola maxi

what is your favourite part about shooting in a safari environment?

i'm extremely lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. showcasing that beauty from an intensely female perspective is a wonderful privilege. i love the juxtaposition of the wild with the curated. i love how beautiful, soft, flowing fabrics look against a stark, almost primal background. i also love that we often shoot experiences that can be life-changing and often bring me to tears. i've witnessed some of the most magnificent sunsets and sunrises imaginable. i've laughed with my girls until my belly hurt because we were having so much fun, making the work produced a byproduct of the experience. i also love the unpredictability of it all. we storyboard all our shoots before we travel – every single thing is prepared, and then an elephant walks into the lodge, and every plan goes out the window and we get to produce magic.


 vivi maxi, seraphina maxi, lupi top

what is your favourite destination to escape to and why?

this is an impossible question to answer. i still love safari travel more than anything else. that said, i'm not averse to a beach holiday in cape town or an island getaway to one of the indian ocean islands. when it comes to safari, the sabi sands holds a special place in my heart. my first luxury safari was to a lodge in the sands, and it was at another lodge there that i got engaged. but truthfully, i have had wonderful experiences across southern africa, and each property i have visited has something unique and special to offer.


Written by Brittany McLeod

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