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History & Heritage

Plan Your Safari With Africans

6 Generations of African Heritage

Bushtracks Expeditions was founded by the Tetts, whose family goes back six generations in Africa. This means that each Bushtracks safari is an authentic experience, planned by African insiders who are closely connected to the places, camps, and guides of Africa. These are wild places they know intimately - natural ecosystems with safari camps set in the best wildlife locations, and true to their African roots and traditions. Traveling with Bushtracks means you are introduced to hosts, guides and African personalities the Tetts have known for decades, who have a passion for living amongst wildlife, a dedication to conservation, and a spirit of sharing Africa’s magic. The photos below from the Tett family albums best chronicle a relationship with Africa that began six generations ago, and continues on with the next generation.

The Barry Family


Swellendam, South Africa, 1800’s

It all began in 1866 when Joseph Hamilton Barry (shown with his nephews), a wine merchant, was sent from London to Cape Town, South Africa on behalf of the family business. He settled in Swellendam and built an empire that began with shipping grain on the "Duke of Gloucester."

The Tett Grandparents


Rhodesia, Early 1900's

Four generations later, David's grandfather Michael Hamilton Barry moved from the Cape region of South Africa and settled in Bulawayo, then the capital of Rhodesia. He was made senior partner of law firm Webb, Louw, and Barry and married Phyllis Hopkins from Bulawayo. His daughter Jennifer Hamilton Barry was born in Bulawayo. 

The Tett Parents


Rhodesia, 1940's

The Natal Mercury: One of (South Africa) Natal’s first (WWII) evacuee children arrives in Durban from England. He is 10-year-old Michael Robert Tett who traveled 6,000 miles to stay with his aunt and uncle, Mrs. R. C. Clephan, of the Ixopo district. Michael, whose parents have never discussed the war with him, does not know that he has been evacuated and he regards the whole trip as a holiday. One of his first activities in Durban was to jump into a rikshaw and ride around town. He was keenly interested in the Zulu words he heard and was delighted when the rikshaw puller bucked.

Refugee is the one word in the English language which Michael Tett, David's father, disliked. When some well-meaning person called him a refugee he replied, "I refuse to be called a refugee. It is an ugly word and I don't like it." He described his wartime voyage out from England as "very exciting...with sports all the way."

Michael's home is in Chiselhurst, Kent, where he had left behind a baby brother. His one ambition during his visit to South Africa is to learn to shoot. During his short stay in Durban, he spent a considerable amount of time taking his uncle up and down elevators, for which he had an "inordinate passion." Since his arrival, Michael has not mentioned the war, and his only comment on hostilities was "is there any chance of the Germans coming here?"

After graduating in law at Cambridge University, Michael returned to Rhodesia and married the Tett’s mother, Jennifer Barry who, like her mother, was born and raised in Bulawayo. They had four boys, Nicholas, Adrian, David, and Christopher.

The Tett Brothers


Rhodesia, 1970's

Jennifer and Michael Tett took their four sons on extended camping safaris to the Makgadikadi Salt Pans and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and Hwange, Mana Pools, Gonarezhou, and Chizarira National Parks in Zimbabwe. These were the days when safari lodges did not exist, so they would set off in an old Series I Landrover hauling a trailer stuffed with canvas tents and equipment that would support them in the bush for two to three weeks at a time. They walked through game-rich savannas led by their father, armed with an old 303 rifle and a curiosity to learn about the African bush. Unknowingly these childhood expeditions laid the foundation for Bushtracks Expeditions, formed in 1989 by David Tett, his wife Carolyn, and his two brothers Nicholas and Christopher.

Founding Bushtracks Expeditions


Zimbabwe, 1990's

When Carolyn and David got married in 1991, they went to Zimbabwe and Botswana for their honeymoon. David borrowed his brother’s very old Landrover and they drove from Bulawayo, through Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls. Then on to Chobe National Park in Botswana, following fire breaks (not roads) into Linyanti and Selinda Plains. They got lost in Botswana’s wildlife savannas, used the Chobe River as a guide, and even came across anti-poaching units in the middle of the night. This trip started the adventure of a lifetime that today is Bushtracks Expeditions, and this spirit of adventure still permeates the company and its daily safari operations today.

The Tett Kids


Zambia and California, 2000's to Today

Today, David’s brother Christopher Tett, his wife Samantha and their three kids live on a family farm upstream from the Victoria Falls, on the banks of the Zambezi River. The farm is adjacent to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia, so buffalo can often be seen from the driveway, and the site is a favorite place for herds of elephants to cross the river between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Christopher heads up Bushtracks Africa which operates the largest fleet of safari vehicles in the region with offices in Livingstone, Kasane, Victoria Falls, and Johannesburg, and employs over 50 African staff and guides.

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