They met at Columbia Law School, after being undergrads at Harvard and Wellesley respectively. After practicing law in Washington, D.C. Michael and Bernadette moved to South Africa at a time of great change. At a time when so much was at stake.
Supporting Conservation Through Non-Hunting Safaris
When we started Heritage Africa back in 1993 our business endeavors attracted news stories in publications like Newsweek, The Washington Post and Fortune Magazine.
As the London Sunday Times put it “[With] missionary zeal [to] make their contribution to the new South Africa…Bernadette Moffat and her husband Michael Giles sold their house and gave up six figure salaries as lawyers in Washington.” We’re so glad we did that. For me and Bernadette (and by extension our daughter Maya who is also involved in the business today), there is just no comparison between what we do now and practicing law for big city law firms.
We wanted to find a sustainable alternative to the rapid decline in Africa’s wildlife, especially the attitudes that existed towards poaching and hunting. Through non-hunting safaris we saw the difference that could be made, at a time when change was so important.
Starting Heritage Africa in 1993
Conservation isn’t just at the heart of what we do – it’s why we started Heritage Africa in the first place. Sadly in today’s world, wildlife has to “pay” its way and safaris do just that. People pay to see wild animals in their natural habitat. This creates jobs for locals who are trackers, guides, chefs, game rangers at safari lodges and camps.
Safaris are a critical source of employment and help communities become activists. Without people like you going on safari, poaching and natural habitat erosion – already huge problems – would dramatically increase. Threatened animal species would soon be extinct. You can read more about our approach to safari and conservation on this page.
Non-hunting safaris ensure wildlife and landscapes can pay their way. Every day you spend on safari is contributing. Heritage Africa also makes donations to organizations and communities that are on the front-line against poaching and hunting. So the safari you take doesn’t just make a difference now – it’s going to keep making a difference in the future.
Heritage Africa – More Than a Quarter of a Century On
We are happy. We get to do what we love. Obviously we have a love for nature and wildlife – you don’t start a safari business without this burning desire to protect and preserve. Every day we see the vital role that non-hunting safaris play in terms of preserving animals and habitats – something that gives us great pleasure. And just as importantly, we experience the satisfaction of seeing our safaris making people happy.
And that really makes us feel good – seeing people reconnect and bond again as families, spouses, friends. Or connect in ways that they never connected before. No trip does that better than an African safari – where everyone is in awe of the majesty of nature, creating precious lifelong memories. Happy guests is one reason we keep doing this. Take a look at our testimonials to get a flavor for what people think of what we do.
In a practical and sustainable way, these non-hunting safaris are helping to save Africa’s wild habitats and wild animals. For more than a quarter of a century we’ve been privileged to see safaris transform the lives both of those who go on safari, and the locals who host them.
An Independent, Family Business
After 25 years we’re still an independent family business. We are not tied to any particular lodge or brand, nor must we hit corporate sales targets. Our overheads remain small and we’re still able to give a healthy percentage of our turnover to conservation-supporting organizations.
The safari industry has grown enormously since 1993. We’re proud that many important industry figures see us as pioneers. But we’re still exploring. There’s always something new in the wonderful world of Africa’s wildlife and as the non-hunting safari specialists, we’re always looking for what’s going to happen next.
So that’s us – Michael and Bernadette at Heritage Africa. We love what we do and we love the difference that non-hunting safaris are able to make. Join us. We’d love to hear more about your passions and dreams, and help plan a life-changing safari for you.