Minaz Manji's love for adventure began way back when his father used to take his family to some of East Africa’s best national parks and game reserves.
What inspired him the most was the fact that he could get up close and personal with wild animals that roamed the vast wildernesses.
Their Eldoret residence teemed with animals such as Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impala, zebra and giraffe.
“My father would drive us there every so often to see this wildlife and particularly the giraffe, which was his favourite animal and we would enjoy a picnic whilst watching these beautiful animals,” Mr Minaz says.
Upon his return to Kenya from the United Kingdom in 1976 he teamed up with his late father to found Twiga Tours, a Kenyan tour company that h as grown over the years.
“Anyway, it wasn’t until August 1980, that my late father and I teamed up to start a small tour company in Nairobi from humble beginnings,” Mr Minaz told Smart Business.
They bought two customised second hand minivans to take tourists to various attraction sites in the country.
“Our personalised service, custom designed minivans and well trained guide/drivers quickly saw the fleet grow substantially but the urge to be a tour company rather than a rental company was getting stronger and stronger,” he said.
It was not until the 1990s when they ventured into the Tanzanian safari circuit since the two countries offered the best safari circuits.
This came through after a number of notable hotel brands such as the Sopa and Serena Groups set up lodges there.
“We took the lead to set up an office in Arusha with a large fleet of custom designed safari cruisers to service the need for a bi-country safari experience. Back in the 1990s, it was the norm to go to Amboseli and then cross the border at Namanga to Tanzania,” he adds.
Bet paid off
Their bet paid off when they launched a new safari circuit through the Sirare/Isebania border.
“This routing has now become extremely popular and is one of our top selling corridors known as the Greatest Wildlife Safari,” says Minaz.
Their operations were recognised in 2013 by the World Travel Awards as the World’s Responsible Tourism Company and the World’s Leading Luxury Safari Company in an event that was held in Nairobi.
“Being recognised by global networks, airlines, travel portals and receiving awards as a leading company in Africa and the world is something I take pride in. I look back at my 40 years and can proudly say, I did something right that I can now pass on to my family,” he adds.
Like thousands of other companies, Mr Minaz reckons that the Coronavirus pandemic has affected their business as the number of bookings has dropped immensely.
“Our retail division worked on getting some very attractive packages to the discerning domestic traveller,” he says.
Minaz reckons that over-exploitation of Kenya’s parks threatens the existence of wild animals.
“During the peak season you will find more vehicles racing towards an important sighting and, before you know it, tens of vehicles have surrounded the poor animals probably restricting their movement or interfering with the kill, which is not the right way to go,” he says.
Other factors include encroachment of wildlife habitats through human settlements, cattle grazing and logging in forests.
“We need to control development of new hotels, lodges and activities in the parks or else we will end up with tourists who will be very dissatisfied at not seeing the wildlife they came to view in the first place,” says Minaz.