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Kaya Central Radio Interview with Andre Van Kets

Have a listen to this featured interview between Kaya Central's Mo-G and our co-founder, Andre Van Kets. Find out what we do and how the concept for Drive South Africa was born. Andre also shares some of his travelling experiences and offers some advice on what to take along on your next road trip.

 

Podcast Transcript: 

Mo-G: For today's Kaya FM International Stopover, we connect with Andre Van Kets, he is one of the co-founders for Discover Africa. They specialise in road trips with a blog that you can access on drivesouthafrica.co.za. Based in Cape Town, let's meet Andre right now. Now briefly tell us about how you came to establishing Discover Africa?

Andre Van Kets: Hi there, thanks for having me on the show. Mmm yaaa, it was in 2002 when I met Steve Conradie, fellow founder of the company, and he just came back from a six month trip through Southern Africa, with his Land Rover. I had just come out of varsity, essentially a computer geek and the two of us had a shared passion for travelling in the bush around Africa and we realised that if we were going to do this and make a business out of it, we should do it online. So we joined forces and that’s how we started.

Mo-G: Excellent! Now who are some of your contributors on the website and what type of travel experiences are being captured or shared?

Andre Van Kets: Initially it was stories from Steve and myself, on the road, you know, out in the bush on safari. That kind of stuff and soon the kind of model evolved that it wasn’t just our stories that should be published; it should be our travellers' stories and whether someone from South Africa or an international person, their photos, their stories were actually more important than our stories and that was kind of how we shifted to try and put our customers' stories in the limelight.

Mo-G: Outside the South African borders or elsewhere in Africa, are you active in that market at all?

Andre Van Kets: Yeah, absolutely, although our focus from the beginning has been South Africa, it is our home after all. We do cover Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and sometimes further afield, but that's our neighbouring countries, that’s who we focus on.

Mo-G: What's the best place, you would say, just blew your mind and when you guys were going on some of these trips?

Andre Van Kets: To me the highlight is still Botswana, the Okavango Delta. It was authentic as a safari can get. There are great experiences all over Africa; Tanzania, Kenya etc., but we believe Southern Africa has just got an edge; because it hasn’t been Americanised or over-commercialised just yet. There’s still the real true African experiences, here in South Africa and in our neighbouring countries.  

Mo-G: And travelling locally, it's quite cheap, it's not that expensive right? It is affordable? 

Andre Van Kets: It certainly has, travelling locally has changed, I think the low cost airlines certainly drove that phenomena and we found that, with that people are no longer schlepping their own vehicles across the country. The high price of fuel, killing those kind of trips. We realise people can get a relatively cheap flight, pick up a rental car on the other side, whatever your needs and budget are; and you can have a really great time, be it two days, two weeks, or two months.

Mo-G: Now I suppose a lot of tourists use your car hire services, so can you elaborate?

Andre Van Kets: Absolutely! We offer car, 4x4 and camper rentals. These vehicles aren’t actually our own vehicles; we act as a middle man on our website, in that our booking engine will go out and find the best rate from the big brands out there: Avis, Europcar, Budget etc. and by going to one central place on our website you can actually compare all of the rates from all of these top guys. Get the best deals and book immediately online. Almost like the Hippo of the online car rental space.

Mo-G: I See, I guess you, Discover Africa did not supply those Land Rovers that took some of the Guptas' guests form their air force base, right? 

Andre Van Kets: Not to my knowledge, no.

Mo-G: Ha ha ha ha. What is your worst road trip that turned into an accidental tourist's?

Andre Van Kets: Firstly I’d like to say that  there is no such thing as a bad road trip, but the reason why we love this whole concept of road tripping, doing it on your own is that , you actually end up having these surprises that, for good or bad end up making  the trips memorable. Packaged trips, planned holidays, guided, they're great, they can be relaxing, you know, they're suitable for honeymooners, that kind of thing, but if you want something with adventure and that’s going to stick with you, it’s going out on the road, on your own, planning your own trip that is going to be, we believe, the best way you’re going to come home with those best memories.

Mo-G: Finally, whenever you do get to travel, what do you always take with you?

Andre Van Kets: Sho, look apart from the practical like a good map and all your documents that you need to cross borders, maybe a medical kit. One thing I always make sure I've got with me is some music, whether it’s your iPod or your favourite CD’s and one thing which I've recently started doing is whenever we go on a trip, we will actually make an on the go playlist on our IPods or IPhones. End of the trip you can save that playlist, give it a name and then anytime in the next couple of years, when you play that playlist, you actually relive that journey.

Mo-G: And it takes you back, yeah.

Andre Van Kets: It’s one of those things I love doing and it's really become a habit or a real pleasure on our trips.

Mo-G: Excellent stuff, nice one Andre Van Kets; co-founder of Discover Africa and the DriveSouthAfrica.co.za blog.

We hope that you enjoyed this interview as much as we did and that you learnt a something new about Drive South Africa and what we do.


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