We met Gabriela about 4 years ago when she joined us on a 7 Day Tracking Specialisation course. Gabi inspired us from the get-go with her enthusiasm and passion for not just nature and wildlife, but LIFE! She gets to travel all over the world, but found that her heart belongs to Africa! Her story shows, it’s never too late to go out there and live your dream!
Gabriela Brunner: Shongololo Safari, CEO
As a child, I watched the US series “Daktari” on TV. The story was about an animal orphanage in Africa, a veterinarian with his daughter and a gamekeeper and they had many, many great animal encounters. My attention was grabbed by the cross-eyed lion ’Clarence’, the chimpanzee ‘Judy’ and whatever nonsense they always got up to. That’s when I knew that someday I would travel to Africa.
In my mid-twenties I became a Flight Attendant in Switzerland and had the opportunity to travel all over the world. On my first visit to Africa, I was immediately under the spell of its beautiful nature, magnificent animals and great people. That hasn’t changed and I caught the ‘African virus’. Since then I spent all my holidays in southern Africa and always worked with animals.
A couple of years ago I founded my own Safari Travel Agency: Shongololo Safari. My vision is to bring Swiss people to South Africa and show them the beauty of that wonderful country.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to women considering a chosen career/path such as yours?
It is never too late to realize a dream. I’ve always wanted to be a flight attendant, I gave everything and worked hard to achieve it, and it’s still my dream job.
I realized my other dream, Africa and its animals, much later. At 48, I did the FGASA Field Guide training certification course. My other best decision in my life. As I said: it is never too late to realize your dream.
What in your career has brought or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfilment?
I have achieved something that not many people can say. Firstly, I’ve been working as a flight attendant in my dream job for 30 years now, and second, for more than 10 years I have spent almost 2 months a year in the African bush. Two activities that could not be more different, yet both fulfil me with the greatest satisfaction.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never give up. Follow your dream and make it a reality.