The story behind the story
Sometimes in life, something comes along that is so special and unique it reminds us the world is still a place of great beauty and wonder. A place where like-minded global citizens arrive with a handshake and then don’t want to leave. When they have to, it is with a hug or a tear and always a promise to return. This is Thanda – and Thanda means Love in the Zulu language.
The Thanda adventure started with the grand vision of the Thanda Group’s founders and owners, Christin and Dan Olofsson. They are self-made entrepreneurs from Malmö in Sweden, and they dreamed of an African adventure they could share with family and friends. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s passionate accounts of Africa’s extraordinary spirit and wildlife, it awakened in them their destiny: a destiny that in 2002 would lead them many thousands of miles from Sweden, to northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, or Zululand as it is called. Here, they established the wildlife paradise that is Thanda Safari. A few years later, another paradise was discovered off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. This is Thanda Island, a private wonderland situated in a protected marine reserve. Next came the Thanda Classic Cruise in the Mediterranean, adding a third adventure to what Dan calls “Thanda’s life quality experiences”. An important part of life quality is Christin and Dan’s commitment to a number of projects linked to these experiences that make a significant contribution to empowering communities, educating people, and conserving Africa’s inimitable wild environments.
“It has been a fascinating journey to see our dreams transform into reality, and it is now a privilege for us to invite people from all over the world to share these unique, quality experiences with their dear ones, family and friends. We warmly welcome you to these destinations with all their beauty and wonder. We hope that you will join us.” – Christin and Dan Olofsson
Purchasing the first properties
Christin and Dan Olofsson purchased their first game farms in Zululand and began accumulating several large properties to consolidate the land into one privately-owned game reserve.
In Zululand Dan met the man who was to become Thanda Group’s founding CEO, Pierre Delvaux, who grew up here and speaks fluent Zulu. From the age of two Pierre went on safari with his father to the exact location where Thanda Safari and The Royal Thanda Club by Thanda Safari are now situated. Dan knew at once he had found a kindred spirit and valuable point man in Pierre. “It’s going to be an adventure!” Dan said.
Dan, Pierre and their team brought back all the wild animals that historically occurred here and the 14,000-hectare Thanda Safari Big Five private game reserve was launched to the world on 22 May, 2004. It received international best awards from the outset and continues to do so.
The Olofsson’s first home in Africa
The Olofsson family’s first home in Africa on Thanda Safari was named Villa iZulu, meaning “Place of Heaven” in Zulu. Today it is available for guests who prefer a unique, private retreat. Villa iZulu has been honoured with the most awards of any luxury, private villa by the World Travel Awards.
Conservation and Community Commitment
Christin and Dan Olofsson are Scandinavia’s largest philanthropists and private investors in South Africa where there is a pressing need to contribute to environmental conservation and the empowerment of rural communities.
Thanda Safari is engaged in the conservation of critically endangered animals, including the black rhino and cheetah breeding programmes. The Thanda Group has pioneered several community education, upliftment and job creation programmes. Over 90% of the staff on Thanda Safari are from the neighbouring Zulu communities. All staff receive career advancement, education and training opportunities.
Christin and Dan established an education and HIV/AIDS prevention programme in 2005 called Star for Life that has helped over 500 000 children in southern Africa to lead healthy, AIDS-free lives, get educated and reach for their dreams.
A Protected Environment
In recognition of its rich wildlife and the land’s unique historic significance, Thanda Safari was re-proclaimed a Protected Environment on 9 October 2015 in terms of South African environmental legislation. This was exactly 120 years after it was first proclaimed as a game reserve in 1895 by then British Colonial Government of Natal, and then de-proclaimed in 1907 in favour of what is now the state-owned, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, not far from Thanda.
Marine and Community Conservation
Thanda Island partners with the Tanzanian Marine Parks in a range of marine conservation programmes and educational, sporting and sustainable fishing programmes with the communities in the region.
Thanda Classic Cruise
He instantly fell in love with her, purchased her and incorporated her in the Thanda Group as the Thanda Classic Cruise. She is available for charter in the Mediterranean.
The Royal Thanda Club by Thanda Safari
The flagship of the Thanda Group is Dan’s latest investment, The Royal Thanda Club by Thanda Safari, which opened to the world in January 2024. It is set to become the most exclusive private residence club and real estate offering ever to come out of Africa.
A total of 44 select individuals and families from around the world are invited to become members of The Royal Thanda Club by Thanda Safari. Membership includes their own bespoke Royal Residence on The Royal Thanda Club Estate, situated in the central part of Thanda Safari.
The Royal Residences are the most exquisite homes with every 21st century amenity, which guests can also book for their Big Five African Safari.
The Royal Thanda Club Estate is enclosed in a 386 hectare, high-security fenced, patrolled, access-controlled area where guests can safely walk, run, cycle and explore in total freedom.
Thanda invites you to reconnect with the wild, with love and likeminded souls. The strongest calling.
"For our family, Thanda is a place of seclusion and wilderness ~ where we restore our senses and rejuvenate our spirit. For us, the Thanda properties are about giving people from all over the world the opportunity to experience Africa’s most extraordinary places. It is about living the adventure, conserving unique wildlife areas and contributing to the betterment of the communities in the region. Thanda means Love in the language of the Zulu people, and it is indeed a story and journey of love.. Come join us.”
– Dan Olofsson