A San Diego-Based Travel Company Tours Africa
Werner Kurn turns a childhood memory into a bucket list African safari through his local travel company
When Werner Kurn was a boy in Germany, his father spent time volunteering as a physician in small villages across Africa. Young Werner made lifelong memories accompanying him on various trips and meeting the people, who were always incredibly gracious. Decades later, those memories have inspired a sold-out series of tours to a continent that has found a permanent place in his heart.
As owner of the San Diego–based Ocean Enterprises Travel since 1979, Kurn has primarily focused on scuba diving excursions.
“We teach diving and sell gear, and we organize dive trips to the Bahamas, Bali, Micronesia, and more. But sooner or later, you run out of new dive destinations,” Kurn explains. “Somewhere along the way, someone said they wanted to go to Africa. My wife and I have developed our own love for Africa. So 10 years ago, we coordinated our first tour.”
Today, Ocean Enterprises Travel sells out tours years in advance to people who are looking to fulfill a bucket list trip. Kurn says people seek out his tours because he has a personal knowledge and passion that “regular” travel agents don’t.
“If you love to travel, sooner or later in your life, you want to find a travel agent who has actually been to the places you want to go,” he says. “That way, you know they know what they’re talking about.”
With more than 150 trips to Africa under his belt, Kurn has learned which countries to visit when, what health and safety precautions to take, and what seasons are best for spotting animals. He arranges itineraries and accommodations for a variety of budgets—from the more primitive tented safari to luxury lodges that cost $6,000 a night—and for a wide range of ages. In fact, on a recent tour, 14 of the 23 travelers were over the age of 70. Perhaps the most important lesson he’s learned is that no visit is exactly the same—yet all are equally extraordinary.
Ocean Enterprises Travel takes tour groups to 12 of the 54 countries of the African continent: South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Seychelles, Zanzibar, and Madagascar.
Kurn gives organized tours, but also helps craft personalized itineraries for those who want to go on their own. Interested in seeing the splendor of Victoria Falls? No problem—you can take a helicopter tour. Dreaming of frolicking with baby elephants in a Kenyan orphanage? Totally doable.
“When you go to Paris, you’ll see exactly the same things as everyone else who has been to Paris,” he explains. “With Africa, you can say, ‘I want to see giraffes giving birth or a pride of lions attacking prey,’ but truly, you can only hope. We can’t guarantee you’ll see an elephant calf being born, but instead you might see a wildebeest birth. Everyone sees something different, and that’s what makes it so interesting.”