Scintilla specialises in immersive experiences and exceptional locations. Yet, it’s our deep love of Africa and knowledge of its most spectacular corners that also sets us apart and allows us to send our travellers off on trips beyond their wildest dreams.

A key aspect of what we do are our travel experts such as Cuan Rush.

Growing up, Cuan spent many family holidays in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. After spending time managing a lodge on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River in Zambia, this area now holds a special place in his heart. We caught up with Cuan and asked him a bit more about his 20 years in the industry.

Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing?

I’m from Durban on the east coast of South Africa. KwaZulu Natal has always been my home province, living in and around Durban and up the coast in a small town called Zinkwazi. As a young lad, I was keen on becoming an archaeologist and a game ranger to protect the natural environment and wildlife. After completing school, I went on to Saasveld College down in the Cape and studied Nature Conservation.

How did you become a travel expert?

I’ve been in the travel and tourism industry for almost 20 years now. I’ve worked in various fields, including being a lodge manager in Zambia, a professional bird and wildlife guide touring all over Africa and Asia, and also a travel specialist for a destination management operator in South Africa. I’ve been fortunate to experience all aspects of travel and tourism and have created trips and holidays for hundreds of people over the years. This serves as an incredible background for me in planning dream holidays and experiences for travellers. This all led to me finding and then working for Scintilla.

What are some of the best places you’ve been to, and experiences you’ve had, as a travel expert?

As you can imagine there are many places that I’ve been to that hold a special place in my heart. However, the Zambezi River in Zambia, the Kalahari in central Botswana and Serengeti in Tanzania rank as the top three for me. Many experiences come to mind but there are a few that stand out.

Some of my favourite memories include chilling on a boat cruise on the Zambezi River whilst sipping a gin and tonic and taking in a stunning sunset; being surrounded by a large, breeding herd of elephants in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania and watching them go about their foraging and interactions of different age groups of the herd; observing a leopard reclining on a branch in an acacia tree in the Sabi Sands, and listening to a black-maned lion roaring at arm’s length in Etosha National Park in Namibia.

What are some of your favourite aspects of your job?

I love crafting together magical holidays for travellers and obviously, it’s amazing to experience the fantastic lodges and hotels all around Southern Africa.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your job?

Technology for one. I believe the online era where anyone can google destinations and try and piece together their trip of a lifetime is one of the biggest challenges travel experts encounter these days. There really is no substitute for experience and first-hand knowledge of a destination and on-the-ground advice, and that’s what we’re able to offer prospective travellers – peace of mind and the knowledge that their itineraries and destinations are among the very best in Africa.

What makes being a travel expert different to other jobs you’ve had?

The key element for me is having access to everything related to travel and tourism. Scintilla has good relationships with lodges and hotels, access to many immersive experiences and a range of professionals in the food and wine industry in South Africa. Being a travel expert allows me to craft together amazing holidays and safaris for travellers and share my knowledge and experience of the African continent with them. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to craft these safaris for travellers because I know they will have an incredible time!

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to Africa?

You have to do it! Once you’ve been to Africa it gets into your blood and you will always want to return, no matter how many times you visited.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming an African travel expert?

You must be passionate about Africa and travel. If you don’t have these two elements, you’ll struggle to be genuine as a travel expert and it will be difficult to craft together those epic dream holidays.

What is your favourite African destination?

That’s a tough one…but if I have to choose, then it is Zambia. It is Africa in its purest form with untamed wilderness, a bounty of wildlife on offer and incredible lodges in epic locations.

And your favourite African lodge?

This is a tall order, there are so many great lodges in Africa! Lion Sands Narina Lodge has a great location with superb views over the Sabie River and the lodgings are fresh, luxurious with a wonderful colour palette and still somewhat traditional. It offers high-quality game viewing with good guides. And besides, it is named after one of my favourite birds, Narina Trogon!

Any final words?

Make your next holiday, an African one. The continent has a wealth to offer any traveller and Scintilla is here to guide you along the way, from the planning phase all the way through until you are back at home.

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