Time + Tide
XO Private Interview

Tailored, immersive and significant 
safari adventures and experiences in Zambia and Madagascar.

XO Private welcomes Bruce Simpson, CEO of our Destination Master, Time + Tide, to discuss how the company is effectively designing truly inspiring experiences for guests to explore the wilderness of Zambia and, more recently, Madagascar.

How did the Time + Tide adventure come about? What lies at the base of the founding of the company?
‘Time + Tide was brought together by Thierry Dalais's dream to preserve places in the bush and beach. Madagascar, the Indian Ocean islands, and Zambia hold a very special place in Thierry and his family's hearts.

As a family-owned business Time + Tide has a long history that celebrates the passion and legacies of many families that have pioneered to protect these wild places for many generations. Time + Tide brings together nine properties that showcase the natural beauty, the authenticity of the people, and the culture of each unique destination.

At the core of Time + Tide, it is a story of passion and dedication brought together by Thierry – a man who sums up the modern-day explorer with a rare ability to seek out places that are still hidden gems in today's world where so many other destinations have been experienced. This internal fire of passion and dedication shines through all of Time + Tide and everything we do!’

Bruce Simpson, CEO of Time + Tide
When Time + Tide decided to invest in Zambia, it was not the most traditional place to invest in high-end camps and lodges. The company pioneered a new destination which is often a costly exercise. What was it that gave Zambia the edge over other countries?
'With an adventurer's spirit with a passion for flying, Thierry has explored many destinations across Africa, however, none pulled him in as much as the moment he landed on the Lower Zambezi.

Zambia is known as "The heartbeat" of Africa and has an element of still being off the beaten track with wild areas that feel undiscovered. Time + Tide is especially known for its immersive safari experiences that go beyond the traditional game viewing from a vehicle allowing guests to feel like they are participating in their adventure and not just viewing it.

Experiencing these wild areas on foot such as a walking safari, or canoeing safari is just a small way that makes Zambia so special. To qualify as a walking safari Guide is a highly skilled expertise that Zambians put many years of training into to be able to be certified. The extensive skills and experience of the Zambian Safari Guides make these experiences possible and unique to many other destinations.

Zambia is the best of both worlds, it's a real slice of wild Africa combined with people that are warm and friendly. Zambia is unspoiled with places waiting to be explored.'
Connecting with the wild elephants                                                                              Fireplace gathering during a Lewanika outing
Which camps do you currently operate across Zambia? How are they different from each other? What are their USP's? Are they easy to combine as part of an itinerary?

‘Time + Tide Safaris has more camps than any other safari company in Zambia, making it the country's premier operator. The variety of styles appeals to wildlife lovers of various tastes, budgets, and interests, ranging from a vintage-inspired tented bushcamp to an exclusive-use safari house.

Time + Tide Chinzombo and Time + Tide King Lewanika are two award-winning luxury flagship camps that can be paired up to experience the best of two different regions in Zambia – the South Luangwa and Liuwa Plain – or choose to explore one region in depth, by combining the luxury of Time + Tide Chinzombo with the four seasonal camps set in the heart of the South Luangwa. The latter is ideal in safari season, where guests can also opt for the traditional walking-style safari, walking between the seasonal camps for a truly immersive experience.

Whereas Chinzombo is open year-round, King Lewanika is famous for green season as the dry landscape transforms into a water wonderland. As a result, on a circuit, experiences can be extremely diverse: one night guests might be luxuriating overlooking the vast expanse of the Liuwa Plain, the next watching shooting stars beneath a net on a sleep-out in a dry river-bed in the South Luangwa, or trying their hand at tiger-fishing along the banks of the Lower Zambezi at Time + Tide Chongwe.

An itinerary combining Time + Tide Chongwe and our camps in the South Luangwa allows guests to experience the diversity of landscapes and wildlife of Zambia along the country’s largest rivers. Time + Tide Chongwe is situated on the confluence of the mighty Zambezi and Chongwe, tucked in a grove of ancient Albida Trees. It's an ideal camp that allows a huge variety of activities, from canoeing safaris, and walking safaris, to moments of reflection on river cruises down the river.

The options and combinations of Zambia make each journey truly unique!'

Time + Tide camping experience
Authentic experiences and sightings of a lion and lioness
Introducing Time + Tide's nine Zambian properties

· Time + Tide Chinzombo - South Luangwa National Park

‘This is Zambia's premier, ultra-luxurious camp: a sensational contemporary creation by the South African design stars Lesley Carstens and Silvio Rech, it sits on a wide and beautiful stretch of the Luangwa River. It is a design-lovers dream: each of the six stylish, contemporary luxury safari tents features enormous pared-back, open-sided living spaces, a private indoor egg-shaped bathtub, and an outdoor pool. Elegant artisan pieces hand-crafted from pale woods, buttery leathers, raw linens, and delicately woven strands of reed feature throughout. Spend time in the main living area's spacious outdoor library, convivial bar, and sunken firepit beside the river. Spa treatments using local oils are available in guests' rooms.'

· Time + Tide's four South Luangwa Seasonal Camps - South Luangwa National Park

‘Situated deep within the South Luangwa National Park, as originally sited by early conservationist, Norman Carr; Time + Tide Luwi, Mchenja, Nsolo, and Kakuli Seasonal Camps are set either in ancient thickets of trees alongside the Luangwa River or overlooking wild open areas through which game regularly passes.

Made from natural materials such as wood, straw, and reed, each of the beautifully designed bushcamps is seasonal and rebuilt every year to reduce its footprint on the environment. With rooms partially open to the elements, and sun- and star-lit bathrooms, these are camps that blend into the wilderness around: places in which lions might prowl in the moonlight or elephants might crunch seedpods outside as you shower.

All four camps offer game drives and walking safaris and are the perfect base from which to walk to your sleep-out under the stars. A walking safari between the properties allows guests to walk with a guide and armed ranger between two, three, or all four camps, taking in the wildlife and landscapes en route, while their luggage is transferred by vehicle.

Each camp has its specialty: Time + Tide Nsolo is known for wild dogs and bull elephants; Time + Tide Kakuli for boating and big cats; Time + Tide Luwi for its photographic hide overlooking a natural pool of water; and Time + Tide Mchenja for its swimming pool with views over an area elephants regularly come to drink. Camps open mid-May to mid-November.'

· Time + Tide Chongwe - Lower Zambezi National Park

'Set on the confluence of the Chongwe and the Zambezi Rivers, with the Great Escarpment in the background, Time + Tide Chongwe is sited in one of the most beautiful spots in Zambia. The wildlife here is prolific, from herds of giant-tusked elephants and black-maned lions to packs of wild dogs and big pods of hippos. Activities range from walking and sleep-outs to canoeing and sunset boat tours.'

· Time + Tide King Lewanika - Liuwa Plain National Park

'The only permanent lodge in the entire Liuwa National Park – is where guests come to discover quiet, escape technology and learn about the cycle of nature. Annually the plains experience a wildebeest movement, as the rains arrive and the grasslands turn to green, the herds move south. The Liuwa Plain welcomes hundreds of migratory birds, including pelicans, cranes, and skimmers, as well as lechwe: the country's handsome water-loving antelope. This landscape transforms from a dry wilderness to a watery wonderland that is exceptional for wildlife photographers.

It is Time + Tide's most luxurious, modern, and minimalist lodge. Designed by the award-winning Lesley Carstens and Silvio Rech, its six contemporary safari tents, have an element of clean lines, leather and canvas finish. The rooms are open-fronted and open-sided so guests can enjoy the key attraction here: the views of the vast plains and skies. Activities include bush picnics, jeep, walking safaris, canoeing during the flood season, and visiting the Lozi people, one of only two local tribes in Zambia living side by side with nature within a National Park. Open mid-Oct to mid-July.'

Bedroom in Time + Tide's King Lewanika Lodge
Pioneering new destinations seems to be in the Time + Tide DNA since the company's focus got diverted to Madagascar more recently with the development of stunning Miavana. What's the story here?

‘Madagascar is a new, diverse and exciting destination with so much to offer. In a world where so much has been explored, Miavana remains a hidden paradise of raw and refined. The raw being Madagascar's unique plant and wildlife species that have evolved for more than 150 million years, to the refinement of Miavana offering world-class service competing on an international stage.

Miavana is an island often referred to as an adventure playground, offering thrilling, unique experiences unlike anywhere else in the world; on land sea, and air. Each experience is an adventure, from heli-kiting, lemur trekking, and scuba diving discovering new reefs, to seeing ancient baobabs and historic shipwrecks along coastlines flanked by mangroves and coves with turquoise seas.

Finding unique destinations that truly make you feel alive is in Time + Tide's DNA, as we grow into new bold destinations, we are always looking for an element of uniqueness combined with sophistication and style. And most importantly allowing the destination, the people, and the culture to shine.'

Given the rapid expansion of Time + Tide, the question on everyone's lips is: what's next? Additional properties in Zambia and/or Madagascar? Venturing into a new destination? How do you see the business develop over the next five to ten years?

‘Time + Tide is excited about growth, we are a company that is determined to keep on seeking out the extremely special places in the world, allowing us to continue making a positive impact in areas for generations to come.

It would be early to say where exactly next but it is safe to say that we are looking for bold opportunities and new areas to grow into. To bring our brand of tourism to these areas and to be part of exploring already established areas with our style and vision or unexplored destinations that need someone to come and be the first.

At Time + Tide we talk about adventures, an exciting way of looking at how to experience the areas in which we operate – it can be anything from gastronomy to wellness to birdwatching to truly exploring a destination. It can be with relevant luxury or it can also be with comfortable safari tents.

We are looking to grow our existing business into areas that allow us this style of presenting what the specific environment has to offer to our guests.

The industry needs a bold brand like Time + Tide, a brand that looks to be different, not just to compete in the same areas and then to be better at the same thing everyone else is doing. Commercially to some, that may make more sense growing into already established areas but we feel what our industry and continent really needs is for brands to be brave enough to do something different.

So our growth may not be in the most obvious or the most traditional areas, but it certainly will be exciting. We have a 5-year plan and we have a vision of where we want to go, we will most certainly surprise you with our expansion and will enjoy the challenge of making it all work.'

Views from Time + Tide's Miavana property                                                                               Piazza at Miavana in Madagascar
Sustainability and helping local communities have always been a major driver for the company.  The Time + Tide Foundation is the driver of these efforts, correct?  What are some of the achievements of the foundation that you are particularly proud of?

‘The Time + Tide Foundation, Time + Tide was determined to do more to bring their family vision to life and set about establishing the Time + Tide Foundation. The Foundation is often the only source of educational, social, and medical support for communities in remote areas and our dedicated team works tirelessly with local leaders to publicly promote health, advance female education, conserve wildlife, and support inclusive, diverse education. With every year that passes, greater inroads are made to ensure that communities in Madagascar and Zambia benefit from Time + Tide's presence.

More broadly:
• Many of Time + Tide's camps have been sustainable for decades, having been built seasonally from local materials, and created to have as low an impact as possible. Today, Time + Tide continues with its core values of regenerative, treading lightly, supporting local economies, and caring for the community.
• 95% of fruit and veg for the camps are sourced locally. Many of the staff own smallholdings and sell their produce to the company; all meat is sourced from local farmers and each camp features at least one traditional Zambian dish a day
• Drinks are regionally produced: wine from South Africa, beer from Zambia
• All South Luangwa seasonal camps and Time + Tide King Lewanika are run on solar power
• Water is pumped using boreholes, and is then filtered and purified
• All lamps are solar-powered
• All waste is incinerated in the camp, recycled, or used as compost for local gardens
• Glass is crushed and given to local charities to re-use in building and crafts
• Guests are given metal water bottles for their use during the stay

Time + Tide Chinzombo's rooms are cooled using the eco-friendly Evening Breeze system.'

The industry has changed significantly over the years since the start of the Time + Tide adventure.  Which element, trend, or similar has impacted the business most?

‘Regenerative tourism, which takes one or two steps further than sustainable tourism, is about recognizing the role that we play in the areas in which we operate, and it is a responsibility we have to our stakeholders and our planet.
It is about making a positive long-term impact on the environment, livelihoods, and communities in the areas in that one operate. This is a hugely important part of our philosophy at Time + Tide and why we developed the Time + Tide Foundation.'

Could you share a most inspiring or hilarious anecdote that happened at one of your fine properties?

‘Arriving at breakfast on Miavana one morning a guest who was traveling with his extended family, a moment to escape the world of celebrityhood for a few days, decided to surprise his family with a last-minute decision to head to Zambia for a safari. From the beach to the bush with ease, by sunset they were sitting around the campfire in the South Luangwa. On returning to Miavana three days later they recalled how much they laughed waking up in the middle of the night waking to the sound of a rasping lion roar right beside their safari tent. It took them a moment to remember where they were and that they were on safari.'
Living at the impressive King Lewanika
Last, but certainly not least, who is Bruce Simpson?  What is your personal background?  How did you get involved in Time + Tide?

‘Most importantly I am a family man and father of two young girls whom I think have taught me more about myself in their brief years and allowed me to look at things from an entirely different aspect. I love sharing the world with them and learning from them as they are educated and explore from such a pure perspective.

My career has always been more than just my job! Like many of my colleagues who are in the Safari industry, it becomes part of your every fiber - making you who you are. I have been very lucky and have had an extensive history in the safari and Indian Ocean Island world starting my ecotourism career in 1990 working as a guide in the well-known Sabi Sand Game Reserve, working my way through a variety of industry roles from guiding to lodge management and more at Londolozi, & Beyond and Singita.

In the early 2000s I joined Wilderness Safaris, where I gained extensive experience in high-end ecotourism in Botswana, Namibia, and finally, Seychelles where I was North Island's Managing Director for many years, before moving to Time + Tide where I joined the team as CEO, overseeing Time + Tide Safaris and Miavana by Time + Tide as well as business development across Africa.
I joined Time + Tide because I loved their vision and what they stood for. I wanted to have fun again in my career and saw a company that wanted to build something different, be slightly maverick in how they approached things, and wanted to go to some exciting locations in Africa.

I believe that we all have a role to play in making a difference out there and Time + Tide gave me an opportunity to be part of something bold and something special.'

Bruce's family during a Safari Game Drive and learning new skills by the fire
Yvan Vermeesch
A Belgian by birth, Yvan Vermeesch grew up across Africa before heading to the Caribbean followed by the stunning city of Prague before calling the Mediterranean island of Mallorca home. Always looking to innovate across the board and with a clear penchant for everything experiential in travel, Yvan Vermeesch takes great pride in connecting the finest players in bespoke travel around the globe.