Meet “Africa in Focus” Judge, Melissa Biggs Bradley


Tenneil Zondagh


Melissa Biggs Bradley is the entrepreneur behind Indagare, the membership-based travel company that she founded in 2007 with a vision to inspire and empower people to change their lives – and the lives of others – through travel. For 12 years, she served as the travel editor at Town & Country and launched Town & Country Travel, which, under her editorship, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for General Excellence by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME).

Indagare has been named as one of Inc.’s Fastest Growing Companies in the US, and Crain’s 50 fastest-growing companies in New York. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, NBC featured Melissa as part of its Visionaries series on people who are reshaping their industries and adapting their strategies to meet the moment.

When You Travel Is Your Camera Always At The Ready? What Are Some Of Your Favourite Things To Photograph? People, Landscapes, Architecture, Nature?

“Even before the iPhone had such a great camera, I always had a camera with me traveling, and I am definitely of the ‘more is more’ school of photography. I would rather delete than miss a moment, and because my photos often end up being used in our magazine or on our website, I take a bit of everything – interiors, objects, landscapes, animals, birds. I did finally capture a shot of a lilac-breasted roller in full rainbow-wing spread. But my favourite shots are always expressions on people or animals”.

Where In The World Is Your Favourite Place To Write Or Speak About, And Why?

“I have just written a book called Safari Style: Exceptional African Camps and Lodges (published by Vendome Press) that is a testament to my love for Africa, but also a celebration of the visionaries who – over the past 30 years – have really harnessed the power of photographic safaris to be a positive force in conservation and community empowerment. Every lodge in the book and many others across the continent are incredible examples of how travel can be a force of great sustainability and preservation of landscape and culture”.

What is your favourite destination and / or camp in Africa?

“So impossible to say. I have had really profound experiences in so many places. Zimbabwe blew me away when I stayed in Hwange at Linkwasha soon after it just opened a number of years ago, and we had extraordinary sightings and walking safaris – as I did up at Mana Pools and in the Okavango Delta at Jao and Abu. But I also love Namibia for the savageness of its landscape and how camps like Kulala integrate into the desert. And Rwanda owns a piece of my heart. I have been lucky to go many times and I love Magashi because it is a sign of how wilderness can come back and Bisate, of course for the gorillas. But really, Rwanda captures you because of the people of the country, what they have overcome and what they have to teach the rest of us”.

What do you love most about your work in travel?

“Travel cracks you open. It teaches you how little you know and how much more you have to learn, so it keeps you growing and keeps you humble, which, I think, are the keys to a happy life. Every day on the road a stranger becomes at least an acquaintance, and often a friend and a teacher – what could be a more blessed occupation than one that does that?”

What advice would you give to young travel writers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career as a travel journalist, photographer, etc.?

“Have a plan or a vision for yourself but don’t be rigid in following it. You should know what you enjoy doing and have an idea of what success looks like – but follow the opportunities that arise, because often it is the unexpected chances that lead to the biggest breaks, and being flexible and adaptable and hardworking are the hallmarks of most successful people I know”.

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