About Us - African Encounters
safari@africanencounters.co.nz

About Us

Hi, I’m Karen Platzer, founder and director of African Encounters. 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 my small group tours throughout Europe and South America for 20 years, but it was Africa that captured my heart on my first visit 35 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!


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.

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!


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!

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 truly ‘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 with African Encounters!

African Encounters director Karen Platzer
A close encounter with an inquisitive lemur in Madagascar.

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 accommodation 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.
  • Our hand-picked partners in Africa have won many awards for their eco-friendly small camps and their conservation policies.
  • We know Africa, we’ve lived there and worked there for more than 30 years. Let us take you off the tourist route!

African Encounters is not your big, faceless safari company. It is an independent, owner-run company, bringing the personal touch to our safaris. With 35 years of travel experience in Africa, we not only show you the well-known highlights but the hidden treasures too.

Karen’s level of knowledge about Africa is outstanding, and is one reason why our clients keep coming back for another African adventure! African Encounters will take you on a safari that exceeds your expectations, each and every time. Surprise picnics, amazing bush dinners and memorable sundowners are all part of your adventure with African Encounters!

If the dates for Karen’s personally escorted safaris don’t suit your travel plans we also offer scheduled departures with our award-winning partners in Africa who specialise in small group ’safaris in comfort’.

Tailor-made private safaris for family groups, friends or clubs are also possible. We’d love to help you plan an amazing safari tailor-made just for you!