A collection of testimonials from team leaders and students:

Corinne Baulcomb,
Marine Ecological Economist, 
Programme Director for the MSc in Ecological Economics, The University of Edinburgh

I gave Andrew our brief, our budget, and only the shortest of introductions to Ecological Economics, and he and his team at African Insight Academy came up with a fantastic and relevant itinerary that enabled us to explore community-based conservation, and the challenges that come with trying to achieve conservation and human development gains simultaneously. It’s important for me to say that they did this even though it was quite different to the bulk of the student trips they hosted. They were flexible and supportive and really worked with us to create a trip that was meaningful and impactful for our students. Their flexibility and capacity to tailor trips in different ways – including to radically different sized student groups – was a hallmark of their interactions with us.

It is also important to say that they provided full logistical support, and took health and safety very seriously. African Insight also generally made the delivery of the trip significantly easier from a staff perspective than previous trips had been.

We continued to work with African Insight Academy for the next half a decade. In this time, they remained incredibly flexible and supportive, including helping to facilitate two large groups of students undertaking research projects as the needs, requirements, and funding model of our trip evolved. Helping the students to conduct research projects while on the trip was an incredible feat of adaptation on the part of African Insight Academy staff, and it would have been, fundamentally impossible without African Insight Academy’s understanding of, and sincere investment in, the social and environmental context in which they operate. I often left South Africa feeling like Andrew and his team in African Insight Academy were more embedded in Ecological Economists than they realised!

It was with great reluctance and sadness that we have since moved our trip from South Africa to a location that is accessible from Edinburgh without flying, largely in order to reduce the emissions associated with the trip. This does not in any way diminish the great extent to which I recommend them. If ever I was taking students to South Africa in the future, or even a group of tourists, African Insight would be my first point of call.

Maureen Collins,
Programme Leader for BSc Animal Sciences and Conservation Biology,
Canterbury College

“As a University College delivering the subjects of Animal Sciences and Wildlife Conservation at degree level, we have been taking students on an annual field trip from the UK to South Africa with African Insight (AI) for 21 years. I can tell you without any hesitation that I would (and have on many occasions) recommended AI as an academic responsible field trip organisation.

Andrew and the team appoint guides carefully who have the knowledge, experience and communication skills (who can respond appropriately to the demands of the questions) to deliver information at the level required for the trip. The well-structured and risk assessed itineraries are designed mutually to ensure the trip meets the requirements of the course’s students are participating on.

We have recently written a new course – ‘BSc (Hons) Animal Biology and Wildlife Conservation’ – that requires further practical fieldwork. Pongola Reserve is a perfect location for this as it allows access to resources that students would never be able to practice within their own country. The student’s practical skills, knowledge and understanding of the issues that surround wildlife conservation is therefore heightened and has allowed students to critically evaluate conservation and therefore gaining higher grades on their return.

Due to the practical aspects of the trip, many of my students have been successful in getting their career aims within wildlife reserves globally.

One factor that may need to be addressed is to allow access to further resources as our numbers are growing with respect to students and therefore expect to be bringing out many more students in the future who require the practical fieldwork experiences.

Thank you, African Insight, for the many years of support, advice and amazing unforgettable experiences you have given to me and my students over the many years. we very much look forward to at least another 21 years.”

Ann Williams, Higher Education Award Leader, Animal Management,
Kirklees College:

“I have been liaising with African Insight for the past 12 years in regards to their Academic field trips to South Africa. Each year African Insight review our trip which gives us a chance to change the program slightly to ensure we are continually meeting our students needs during the trip.

The students that have undertaken these trips have quoted them as being ‘life changing experiences’. I have even had a number of students return again for a second experience as the trip is so valuable in terms of the knowledge and support they receive from the African Insight guides. A few of my students have also returned independently to Africa to volunteer with African Insight on their internship program and to also volunteer with wildlife rehabilitation centres. The team at African Insight are incredibly supportive before, throughout and after the trip has been completed and this certainly allows the students to feel very comfortable during our academic trips and their subsequent independent trips.

The itineraries that African Insight offer the students are incredibly unique. Students in the U.K do not get the experience of radio tracking African wildlife or indeed scat tracking Giraffe, but African Insight enable the students to do so, professionally, and educationally during their bespoke field trips.
Without access to these field trips students really would not gain the practical experience they desire, and need, in order to fulfil a career in conservation or as a wildlife biologist.  Whilst in Africa the students are encouraged to observe as much wildlife as possible, to be immersed within different ecosystems and to view the beautiful landscapes, ultimately whilst working well as a team, again an important skill to achieve which will aid them in seeking animal industry jobs in the future.

African Insight are a one of a kind company that really do keep education, conservation, sustainability and wildlife at the heart of their field trips.”

Rob Wilson,
Academic Lead – Curriculum and Students | University Centre Askham Bryan,
Askham Bryan College

“University Centre Askham Bryan, York, offers a wide range of land-based degrees. As part of the Animal Management, Animal Conservation and Collections Management degree courses, we aim to engage with industry both in the UK and further afield, allowing students to see a wide range of areas that could inspire, challenge and develop their understanding of a sector and potential career opportunities.

Askham Bryan has been taking students out to South Africa for over 10 years as part of an additional study tour allowing students to see some of the key issues around wild animal management and conservation efforts.

University Centre Askham Bryan has been working with African Insight Academy for the international study tours for 4 years, where we have focused our visit at Somkhanda Game Reserve, Pongola Game Reserve and Kosi Bay. The African Insight team far exceeded our expectations with the range of activities undertaken at all three reserves, academic discussions and level of research. Students gained a key understanding of reserve management and all that it entails. The visit assisted the students with their studies, by allowing them to use the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom from a range of different modules and applying them in the field. It is fair to say that the experience on offer with African Insight is one of the best Askham Bryan has had in South Africa and we have been in talks to return again in 2020, as we continue to develop a strong relationship between the two organisations.”

Dr Caroline Ross and Professor Garry Marvin,
Department of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, London:

“We have worked with African Insight for 10 years developing a university-level module/programme titled Conservation, People, and Wildlife: South African Fieldtrip. This is a module open to our students who have completed the second year of their degrees in zoology, biological sciences, or anthropology. The module, delivered almost entirely in South Africa, brings together the perspectives of wildlife conservation science, environmental/ecology, and human social/cultural perspectives to explore critically key wildlife conservation issues. We bring to the module our academic specialisms, but it only works because of Andrew Anderson’s passionate interest in, and commitment to, conservation education in situ; the range of specialists/practioners he draws on who offer orientations/discussions and experiential sessions; and the organisational expertise of African Insight. Through these fieldtrips our students have an infinitely richer educational experience than they would in the classroom or the library of the university.

African Insight offers an extremely flexible approach to put together the programmes that colleges and universities seek and, in terms of practicalities it attends to and arranges all the needs of any field course.

We would not conceive of planning our South Africa programme with any other company. With African Insight there is everything one needs to create, and deliver, a first-rate experience/education-rich and a superbly managed field course.”

Kirstie Lea McNulty, Intern

“No words to describe how amazing my experience was thanks to African Insight and their amazing guides Michael, Shadrack and Thabani. I’ve learnt so much and most of all been inspired to be the best conservationist I can be. Thank you for showing me the bigger picture and what it means to work in conservation. Already panning my next trip to volunteer.”

Hannah Donkin, Grade 10, 2019:

“On our third day my group and I were at the main camp when we were called to the entrance as an elephant was eating close to the gate. I grabbed my camera and walked quietly with the rest of my group to the fence. My friend Lexine was so excited as she had never been to a game reserve before and was so overcome with emotion that she started to cry at the sight of the elephant. I became emotional seeing how excited she became and realized in that moment how little I truly appreciated every animal I had seen on previous game reserve trips. This trip opened my eyes to the world around us. Experiencing life through the eyes of the inexperienced gives a real perspective to the life that we live. I will never forget this experience and how it made me feel and I will forever carry the insight I gained with me.”

Jessica Deeb, Grade 10, 2019:

“We spent a day in the community working on a painting project at a local primary school. As we started painting the walls, I felt very joyful and full of happiness. I think this was because I was surrounded by people that are underprivileged and it made me realise how lucky and blessed I am. Whilst I was painting the walls I was thinking about the children and how they are always the ones that are so happy and cheerful, even in their difficult living conditions. Compared to my experience, where most of us come to school with food in our lunch boxes, ice cold water, shining clean shoes and our stunning buildings. We are on opposite sides of the spectrum, yet we were able to come together and celebrate one another as a group, my heart was full, and I felt real joy. Overall, I am truly grateful for this experience and it has taught me to be open to new situations. I have learnt that we should not have any preconceived ideas about anything. I feel humbled by this wonderful experience and I have a new appreciation for all my blessings.”

Taetym Hockly, Grade 10, 2019:

“During our school visit and community project I sensed a feeling of security that nothing could take away the joy and happiness we were all experiencing. I felt like I was a part of something great, a family.”

Mpilo Zondi, Grade 10, 2019:

“I remember reading the Somkhanda camp slogan ‘Experience that makes a difference’ thinking about it then I knew that this would be one unique experience that would last a lifetime. I was right. Looking back at the four nights and five days at the camp I know that I am not the same girl that walked in. I changed. Not drastically but changed nonetheless. Sitting on the bus to go home and looking out the window I realized that I would miss everything about it, from the guides to the community to the animals.”

Tayla Crockett, Grade 10, 2019

“I learnt a very important lesson that day. I had been going through life thinking that everything remotely exciting that I did needed to be captured on an electronic device. I believed that if I didn’t get a physical visual of it then the whole experience was, in a way, a waste. I am so grateful that I came to the realization that the best way to get visuals of an experience, is to literally open your eyes and take in the experience by using all your senses, because a camera can capture an image but you, in the moment, experiencing the situation can do so much more by connecting with your surroundings. What do you see? What do you smell? What sounds do you hear? How do all these things make you feel? At the end of the day, the best cameras that life has to offer us is our mind and our senses because it doesn’t matter if you have a physical visual of the experience but a mental visual allows you to experience so much more. It tells a story so much greater than the images you take on your camera.”

Karmishta Moodley, Grade 10, 2019:

“Two moments stick out for me. The first was our 5km walk to Scotia camp. I wish I had absorbed and soaked up every detail rather than wanting to get to my destination as soon as possible. I stumbled so often on the trip even though my eyes were fixed on the ground, in turn missing most of the sunset, birdlife and plants along the journey. I tend to not be in the present. That hike made me realize that there is only a ‘now’. My second moment was sitting at the campfire that night. I have never felt more relaxed in all my life. Everything else faded away and a calmness washed over me. I crave that feeling now that I’m back home in a bustling ongoing noisy day. It is strange that you appreciate those moments now more than when you actually experience them. I often feel compelled to fill a silent moment because I feel the awkwardness of it. I was surprised that I felt at easy sitting around a fire with 2 others in complete silence for more than 2 hours. I discovered more about myself and what resonated with me on that night than any other time in my life.”

Rachael Daley, Grade 10, 2019:

“Looking back to the girl who sat in this chair last week to the girl who sits there now – my mind has become more down to earth and at peace. Since my return I have barely been on social media and I’ve spent more time with family and friends. Somkhanda was a pure treat and an awakening to a calmer, better mind.”

Hannah Oxenham, Grade 10, 2019:

“Our community service in a local school made me feel extremely humbled and more aware of the privileges that are handed to me at home. This sense of gratitude was further embedded in me when we were given the opportunity to help build a house in a local homestead. It gave me an experience to engage with the lives many South Africans lead, and the ability to truly appreciate the skill and innovation that is needed for it. Although many people would not consider traditional housing to be anything particularly remarkable, I gained a new sense of respect for the method of construction. It is impressive to be able to build houses that are environmentally friendly, fully functional, cheap and culturally significant. I knew that it requires a great amount of skill, time and talent to be able to build such homes. I felt privileged to have been allowed this opportunity, especially since we were put in control of somebody’s hard work. The trip into the homestead gave me a new appreciation for its people and their talents and instilled in me a greater sense of appreciation for the opportunities I receive at home. Somkhanda not only reinforced the sense of self-awareness that one receives when working in disadvantaged communities but allowed me to truly engage with the people and appreciate them for their ability to adapt, thrive and maintain an impressive sense of positivity throughout their day to day lives.”

Megan Ham (Educator), March 2020:

“Why do we encourage our girls to attend field trips like this? Because not every child has an opportunity to visit a game reserve in their lifetime. Because we are blessed to live in a country rich with wildlife, diversity, vegetation, bush sunrises and sunsets, bird and insect life. On these trips our girls are encouraged to switch off technology, disconnect from social media and plug into the environment. I have seen our girls embrace the opportunity each year to draw from the wisdom and passion of the guides about community service and conservation. This programme works because true education must be holistic. It must reach far beyond the walls of a classroom and because nature has so much to teach us. Our girls come back from this adventure a little muddier, wiser, humbled and braver. They are stretched and challenged by what they see and do, and they grow taller because of it. Being outside a classroom enables girls to work in teams they might not usually gravitate towards and therefore build new friendships, embrace new ideas, think creatively and gain a greater understanding of the role they play in nature and the future of our country. “