About Us - African Encounters

About Us

Hi, I’m Karen, founder and director of African Encounters.

There have been many twists and turns in my journey as an independent tour operator but one thing remains constant – after working with large tour groups when I lived in Africa I knew that mass tourism was not the path I wanted to travel with my guests. The decision to specialise in intimate small groups, allowing my guests to venture off the main tourist routes and away from the crowded safari circuit, is one I’m very happy to have made. Watching lion cubs playing or elephants cooling off in a river with no other vehicle in sight are memories that will last a lifetime.

Every year I escort small group safaris to my favourite places in East- and Southern Africa, sharing my love for this amazing continent with my guests. These Signature Safaris are true ‘safaris in comfort’, staying in my favourite luxury tented camps with just a few guests, and are exclusive to African Encounters. They are very popular with my loyal clients who keep coming back for another adventure!

I’m a New Zealander with ‘itchy feet’ who lived in Switzerland for 20 years and travelled extensively throughout Europe during that time. I then relocated to Africa where I worked for a tour operator in Kenya for several years before returning to New Zealand to start my own tour business. I escorted small group walking tours throughout Europe and South America for 20 years, but it was Africa that captured my heart on my first visit almost 40 years ago and it was Africa that kept calling me back. They say you can leave Africa but Africa will never leave you, and that is certainly true for me!

Decades of living and working across Africa have allowed me to build up a wealth of hands-on safari knowledge that just can’t be found in glossy brochures and websites. I’m constantly in contact with our safari partners around Africa, ensuring we have the most up-to-date information at all times – and I regularly escort my Signature Safaris to maintain our expertise, and because I love sharing my passion for this incredible continent with my guests!

Karen Platzer, founder & director of African Encounters

African Encounters director Karen Platzer

Responsible travel

Staying in community-run private conservancies allows us to support local communities and conservation projects. A donation to community and conservation projects is included in the tour price – so by joining an African Encounters safari you are also giving back to the places and people we are so privileged to visit.

The animals have also discovered the peace and tranquillity of these unfenced private conservancies provide respite from the hordes of vehicles in busy national parks and reserves so the game viewing is exceptional!

Our hand-picked lodges and luxury safari camps are run with solar power. They recycle and minimise their water usage, grow their own produce, and reduce and recycle waste. 

Eco-tourism in Botswana

Why choose African Encounters?

  • You’ll travel in a small, friendly group with a maximum of 10 guests.
  • You’ll enjoy game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles for optimal wildlife viewing and photography.
  • You’ll avoid the crowds by staying in exquisite accommodations in private conservancies.
  • Private conservancies and concessions offer incredible game viewing opportunities and you’ll often be the only spectators – no herds of minibuses surrounding a big cat sighting here.
  • They also provide the opportunity for guided walks and night game drives which are not allowed in National Parks and Reserves.
  • Giving back is a vital part of our philosophy – African Encounters supports conservation projects, and the communities we are privileged to visit.
  • Small groups = personal service and less environmental impact.
  • My hand-picked partners in Africa have won many awards for their eco-friendly small camps and their conservation policies.
  • I know Africa, I’ve lived there and worked there for 35 years. Let me take you off the tourist route!