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 Janine Southwood
Janine’s wanderlust spirit was ignited at a young age, on annual family road trips from KwaZulu-Natal, along the Garden Route to Cape Town. She has travelled extensively and is fascinated by Africa’s incredible natural wonders. We caught up with Janine and asked her a bit more about her 27 years in the industry.
Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing?
Born in Zimbabwe but at a very early age moved to Durban with my family and became a Durban beach girl. Our big holiday was a road trip every 2 years to the Western Cape. After leaving school, I studied a bit and then ventured over to New York for a year and discovered the travel bug. I was fascinated with the world and how everything was so different to Africa but yet as fascinating.
How did you become a travel expert?
By chance, a travel company was looking for some sales & marketing support in January 1998. I grabbed the opportunity and that’s where it all began. I have been fortunate to travel the world selling Africa, and as lucky, to have travelled Africa to experience my true love.
What are some of the best places you’ve been to, and experiences you’ve had, as a travel expert?
I have travelled the world extensively and my favourite countries would be Sweden, Norway and Ireland. But yet, nothing comes close to our very own Africa.
What are some of your favourite aspects of your job?
I really do enjoy throwing myself into every request and ensuring that I offer the best based on the individual requirements of each one of my clients. I kind of put my feet in their shoes. It is so rewarding when you get it right – and of course, being able to visit the destinations we sell, is a gift to experience first-hand and I consider myself, beyond fortunate to be able to do so!
What are some of the biggest challenges in your job?
Southern Africa has become so popular again and I am finding that availability can be a huge challenge at the moment. I would advise anyone planning a trip or looking to travel here in the near future, to book well ahead, especially if travelling to celebrate a special occasion like a honeymoon or special family trip.
What makes being a travel expert different to other jobs you’ve had?
I think I would have to say that being in the tourism industry does make this world of ours much smaller – when you are dealing with people all over the globe at different hours of the day, it somehow makes it all seem like a global village. I have made wonderful friends and lifelong connections across the world over the past 26 years of being in tourism.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to Africa?
Don’t try to cover it all in one trip – you WILL return – fact. So rather go slow and spend quality time in each region as there is so much to see and do! This is one of my favourite quotes, and holds so much meaning “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”
What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming an African travel expert?
I guess I would say that if you are truly interested in selling Africa, then you really have to throw yourself into understanding each region, the cultures, the history, and the people, and find the passion of our unique Continent. It’s a continent with unlimited discoveries and adventures and the only way to authentically share this, is to get under the skin of the places you sell. Living in South Africa not only allows me to travel frequently but I am also able to share my insights and experiences with clients based on my first-hand experience and encounters.
What is your favourite African destination?
It’s a hard one to answer but if I had to pick a favourite African country, Zambia would come out tops! I love Zambia based on its spectacular beauty however it still has a feeling of being unfound, raw and wild. It offers a truly authentic safari experience. One would imagine this is how it was done at the beginning of the century.
And your favourite African lodge?
There are so many amazing lodges that offer an exceptional experience like no other but some of my absolute favourites, on my doorstep here in South Africa, include Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve and Savanna Lodge, both located in the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Stepping out of South Africa, I think I would choose Mwaleshi Camp in the vast wilderness of North Luangwa National Park, Zambia – here you are lost completely with the sound of nature being in charge. It’s a truly special and remarkable place!
Any final words?
Each of the seven continents of the world is completely different, allowing us plenty to explore in our lifetimes – Africa is made up of 54 countries and each offers its own amazing journey with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, animals in the natural environment and unique cultures – a scene straight from the original garden of Eden. Sometimes nicknamed the “Mother Continent”, due to it being the oldest inhabited continent on Earth, humans and human ancestors have lived here in Africa for more than 5 million years.
We’re based in Southern Africa and have first-hand knowledge of the experiences that await our travellers.
All the experiences and destinations we recommend support their communities and environment.
Our goal is to connect curious-minded travellers to the essence of the place they’re visiting.
We specialise in showing our travellers how to discover unique, locally-infused experiences.
Our bespoke journeys feature stylish, owner-run properties in exceptional locations.
Our consultants are widely travelled and vastly experienced, with expert knowledge of Southern Africa.