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Michelle Friedemann

Job Title:

Group Operations Executive

About Yourself  

Having moved to the UK from South Africa over 4 years ago with my husband, I started off in Customer Operations with The Adventure Company, dealing with our ground agents on an operational side to ensure our customers came home having had an experience of a lifetime. In May 2013, I moved across to the Groups team and now handle the operational side for our school and private groups.
I have been involved in Adventure tourism in South Africa for over 15 years where I was the office administrator (and occasional guide) for two specialist tour operators – one dealing with Mountain based tours (Trekking, Rock climbing, Abseiling etc) and the other the KZN Battlefields, so I have a wealth of knowledge and experience from the ground operator’s perspective with the inherent challenges. I also was actively involved with the training, assessment and administration of Adventure guides throughout South Africa, and so know the importance of having correctly qualified guides / tour leaders for the activities which are been provided.
I am passionate about adventure travel and am particularly interested in mountain based activities, with that having been the majority of my experience, and added on to that has been mountain medicine, as trekking in the high Drakensberg requires guides to be trained to a high level medically as help is more often than not at least 48 hours away.
I also love Husky’s, having had 4 of our own over the years and now support a Husky rescue unit back in SA – another reason why sledding with Sibes is on my wishlist!

What do you love most about your job?
Working with a great team of people who thrive on the challenge of putting together trips that grow students through educational experiences, with a twist of adventure; and with our expertise we allow private groups the opportunity of putting together a trip of a lifetime.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
So difficult to say as there have been a few – trekking the full Tour du Mont Blanc (twice); holding a Koala and feeding wild dolphins in Australia; swimming with wild dolphins (world’s smallest) off New Zealand south island, exploring some fantastic coastal walks in New Zealand and waking up to sunrise over the Milford sound, and enjoying sundowners whilst listening to the African bush at Mountain Zebra National Park, to name some of my more recent ones.

Where have you been?
Obviously South Africa, England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Venice, Majorca & Iceland

Where are you going next?
A year is just not long enough, so my adventure travel/activity list for the next 5 years includes the following: SCUBA diving in the Med and Red Sea; visiting the Pyramids and Petra; Hiking in the Dolomites and Pyrenees; Dog sledding and learning to ski and getting to see the Northern Lights! Mount Toubkal is the next challenge in May 2014!

Best travel tip: 
Take your own comprehensive first aid kit where you can so you know you have the medications that work for you. Of course there are countries where this is not possible, so make sure you check – you don’t want to end up in prison at the airport!

What inspires you to travel?
Experiencing all that is creation around us – whether it is soaring the air thermals with eagles; trekking in mountain ranges that are awe inspiring and often surreal or exploring the underwater world. I like the thoughts behind the following two sayings “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space” and “Try to do something each day that scares you!” as for most of us getting out of bed in the morning can be the thing that scares us, but adventure travel across the spectrum - from family tours through to the more extreme – gives us the opportunity to live on the edge!

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Crossing a glacier in the European Alps
Crossing a glacier in the European Alps
SCUBA diving off Malta
Enjoying a natural facelift
Day hiking in the central Drakensberg
With my hubby and two of our Sibes
Hiking in the Cape Cederberg
On a glacier with Mt Cook in the background
Walking on Table Mountain
Swimming with Hector dolphins off Akaroa, NZ
Special times in the European Alps