Why I started this
I used to work onboard international ships for a corporation in London that has all the fitness centers and spas onboard almost all cruise lines. I use to work onboard Royal Caribbean and Carnival. After some time I broke up with my fiancé and my best friend in the US offered me to stay with her for some time. I started in a community college and I ended up studying a degree in Health Education and after I transferred to the University for a Philosophy Degree. 2 academic awards, 2 scholarships, 0 debts, not bad. The challenges that I had to face pushed me to create something new that could help me financially so instead of waiting for the perfect job or the perfect scholarships I decided to do it by myself. So I thought: what I know best? And the answer was…Create new things, inspire and sell.
I contacted my colleagues who used to work with me onboard Royal Caribbean as diving instructors. They build their own company who is a tour operator company called Africa Sol Safaris in South Africa. Africa is been always my main passion. I teach also African dance besides of being a yoga teacher and personal trainer. So my passion which I think is one of the most powerful engines of success, led me to build a program in South Africa with Africa Sol Safaris. This journey program is a combination of fitness, safaris, life in the wild, spirituality, you can check it here: http://www.soniabanyuls.com/yogasouthafrica/ and one can also join volunteering projects in wild conservation and for the community. You can see our volunteering program with cheetahs, elephants and monkeys here: http://www.soniabanyuls.com/volunteer-tourism/
Why South Africa? I know everybody asked me. Well first because of the extremely complicated immigration laws in the US. When you are not a citizen the rules and regulations are very complicated so instead to be sitting forever waiting to find an investor I did it by myself so when the semester finished I left to South Africa to build my dream. Second because I need it a tour operator with who to partner with, and my colleagues were well established in South Africa. We had the same experience and knowledge in fitness, travel and adventure sports since both worked for many years onboard Royal Caribbean. And third South Africa has a good market in tourism around the world. You can read my blog about my experiences in Africa here: http://www.soniabanyuls.com/category/africa/
Why is important to me?
Because there is a hidden history unfolding: an emerging landscape of innovation advancing solutions that have the potential to transform life around the globe. Besides of business and personal needs that pushed me build something outside US, it is very important for me because there is an opportunity of solving complex problems in South Africa. The ratio of problem-focused information to solution-focused information in the media is completely out of balance. It distorts reality, it is dispiriting, and it deprives people of the knowledge they need to properly assess risks and recognize opportunities. Major social problems around the world can be solved. This is what I intend with my trips and volunteering programs: educate the guests about the environment, give them an amazing spiritual experience, support private reserves who protect the wild life and through our volunteering programs help in the conservation projects and community projects in the poorest communities in South Africa.