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Ndzenga Tours and Safaris was established by Makhosi Msimango in 2006 with the goal to provide domestic and international tourists with cultural and township experiences in the Zulu Kingdom. The 100% black female owned company's head office is in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal. The motivation for Makhosi to start her own tourism business had its roots in an encounter with foreign tourists while attending her first Zulu Reed Dance. "I met some international tourists who had come into KwaZulu-Natal from Eswatini (Swaziland) to attend the annual reed dance at the Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma. Unfortunately, a woman in the group was turned away because she was wearing pants, which is not permitted in our culture. I then realised that there was a need to organise cultural and township experiences," says Makhosi.

She also noted that there was no tourist company that catered for tourists entering KwaZulu-Natal at the Golela Border Post between Eswatini and South Africa. Makhosi left her job at a call centre and used up her savings to start her business. The company was named after her oldest daughter Ndzenga, which was the name of an Angolan queen and means strength. "I am not aiming to be super rich; I am doing what I love - this is my purpose. I love travelling. It allows you to think out of the box, to expand your mind and to rediscover who you are," says Makhosi.

Ndzenga Tours and Safaris has the exclusive rights to take tourists to four of the province's Zulu Royal Palaces. These tours can be expanded to comprise the traditional markets in Nongoma well as other cultural and heritage sites such as the Battlefields. The company's offering includes city tours focusing on eThekwini, the Inanda Valley Heritage Route and the Valley of a Thousand Hills. One of Ndzenga Tours and Safaris' most popular tours is the 1000 Thrills Cultural Village. Here travellers experience an authentic Zulu experience, from how people traditionally lived to consulting with a Sangoma. In addition, safari tours include visits to PheZulu Safari Park, as well as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and other game reserves.


"Initially being a leader was tough as I was not taught to manage, so I made mistakes along the way. I was a young black female who had to overcome traditional boundaries in the tourism industry. I have had a good learning curve. I have overcome challenges by being passionate and focusing on my belief that everyone have a slice of the tourism pie, and that by being creative  and offering new tourist experiences, that pie can expand," explains Makhosi.


"I have an open-door policy and a real appreciation my staff. You cannot succeed alone. My success is about me but about everyone that I have empowered along the way. Travel encourages people, to take off their blinkers and to develop a respect for other people and their cultures." Ndzenga Tours and Safaris aims to shift expectations! Ndzenga has a flat management structure which inspires creativity from its employees. The staff are also given the opportunity to travel and to grow by attending trade fairs and other tourism forums.


Clients include international and domestic tourists as well as school groups and representatives of various tourism authority boards. Ndzenga aims to give its clients a once in a lifetime experience where they receive a homily welcome and service excellence. "We take great pride in our combination of professionalism with personal touch - where clients are treated as individuals and are not just a number. The brand values itself on the exceptional service that clients are afforded.

"The challenge has been to raise the bar to meet international standards," says Makhosi. The guides speak the languages of their clients. The company offers the 11 South African languages, Spanish, German and French, with guides currently being trained in Mandarin
and Russian.


"I believe in the saying that you are only a leader in your field once you have had 10 years' experience." Makhosi is the chairperson of the Women in Tourism KZN Chapter, former 1000 Hills Community Tourism executive committee member and winner of the KZN Lilizela Tourism Award for Service Excellence. The Women in Tourism Forum is close to her heart as she believes that this volunteer work allows her to pay something back to the community that raised her. The Women in Tourism KZN Chapter, is linked to the National Department of Tourism. Its focus areas include employment skills for young women, supply chain participation for women co-operatives and career advancement. Makhosi also wants to continue to help women and youth through her non-profit organisation, Qhawekazi Foundation, w hich s tarted i n 2 016. Q hawekazi m 'heroine' and its goal is to empower women who want open tourism businesses. These are causes which are close to Makhosi's heart she fully subscribes to Malala Yusufzai's maxim, cannot all succeed when half of us are held back."


In the future Makhosi would like to educate more community members about the economic benefits tourism and to encourage them to welcome tourists their areas. However, Ndzenga is aware that the tourism sector is changing and there are constantly new trends such advances in technology and the emphasis on environmental concerns which need to be accommodated in tourism offering.

In addition, she would like to grow greater awareness of Ndzenga Tours and Safaris brand which she believes much potential and power to grow further. "We don't in silos, when we market our brand, we market an industry an area, a province and a country," concluded Makhosi.


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