Today 5 years ago I took over Charly’s Desert Tours. What a strange experience it was to answer my first phone call with “Charly’s Desert Tours, how can we help?, still sitting in my little home office somewhere in Vineta and feeling a little lost.
The business was about to be closed under the previous owner and there were only one or two confirmed day tours on the calendar. Since I did not buy the old and familiar Land Rovers, I started with 2 second hand Mitsubishi Delica’s that I brought into the business from my previous work. A lot has changed since… I am no longer sitting alone in my home office, but we are a small team in a downtown office in a central location with lots of walk in clients and a great number of tour operators and hotels / guesthouses who are booking the various tours we are offering.
Today we are receiving the license to our 4th custom build and brand new 10 seater vehicle and our fleet has grown to currently 9 vehicles.
Some of the old tours, like the Cape Cross and Messum Crater Combo, were discontinued, and we have eventually stopped offering tours, so we can concentrate entirely on the day tours we operate and the activities we sell from our registered booking office. We have also retired the old bookings diary and moved to an online booking and management system. Our new tour “Bites & Brews” has been introduced and we are busy getting the word out into the world and working on future bookings. We are confident that it will be a hit, but we know new things take time.
For the period of 1 year until today, we have had about 14 000 customers, and have received TripAdvisor certificates of Excellence for the last three years running. Reaching this point is due to lots of hard work, long hours and weekends, but would not have been possible with the team in the office, including my wife Rene who took over all the admin and the dedicated team of guides that stuck with me. Jonny, Ernst, Kooitjie, Nick, Bawden, Harald and Egon (who have since retired), Jochen, Cleo that eventually moved on, Ruth and lately Klaus, occasionally Frank, and a few drivers that have taken care of so many airport and desert dinner transfers.
So here is a big THANK YOU to all that have supported Charly’s Desert Tours in the last 5 years!