Meet the Team

 

A Note from Our Founder, Sandy Salle

For some travelers, the beach is their “happy place.” For me it’s Africa.

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and travel back to Africa each year. While I’m happily an American citizen today, I’m always aching a bit for home.

For the smiling faces that first greet you as you step off a plane in the bush.

For the smell of renewal that comes with the first rains of the season.

For the wild, wide open spaces, and the warm people you meet along the way – in the rural villages and vibrant cities.

A little bit of Africa is always with me—and that’s why I’m so honored to share a piece of my home with our clients.

My mission at Hills of Africa is to show you the side of the continent many tourists never glimpse, with a personalized escape that takes you deep into the most magical landscapes imaginable. Simply put, we know Africa. We’ve cultivated relationships with top guides and property managers across the continent. We know who to get in touch with at each lodge to arrange a special birthday or anniversary surprise. We know which safari guide to recommend based on your particular travel style.

But more than our deep knowledge, we care. My team and I are committed to maintaining the highest possible standards for your African vacation. You can expect a safari itinerary that unfolds with ease and leaves you feeling pampered throughout, with a guide to meet you for each bush plane transfer and beyond. You’re in for an adventure, one that’s safe, comfortable, sustainable, and beyond all expectations.

That’s why our wonderful clients have returned to us again and again (some are on their 10th Hills of Africa escape!).

My team would love to show you the magic of Africa, too.

If you’re ready to experience the unforgettable for yourself, I invite you to reach out. We look forward to making your Africa dreams come true.

 

 

Meet the Team

 

Sandy Salle
Founder & President

A native of Zimbabwe, Sandy was born and raised in southern Africa and was fortunate to travel to many places in the southern part of the continent. While she is now happily an American citizen, she does miss Africa—the smell of the first rains, the beautiful sunsets, and the magic of the people. Believing the next best thing to living in Africa is sharing it with others, in 2002, Sandy founded Hills of Africa Travel. Sandy is Hills of Africa’s personal escort and takes great pride in giving her clients the once-in-a-lifetime, magical African experience they’ll remember forever.

 


 

Amy Green
Director of Client Services

Knowing that she possessed a deep passion for exploration, and helping friends plan exciting outings and adventures, Amy left a 19-year career in teaching to pursue opportunities in the travel industry. Joining the Hills of Africa Travel team in the fall of 2010, Amy has been an extremely valuable asset to our team ever since.  From getting processes and procedures in place for the team to managing everything a client could need prior to travel, her role with Hills of Africa has changed over the years. Amy’s days are now spent dreaming with clients to put together the perfect trip, drawing from her years handling travel documents and pre-travel needs combined with her experiences on her many trips to the continent.

‘People ask me all the time what my favorite place is to visit in Africa.  The answer to that changes with every trip I take…the waterways of Botswana, the plains of the Serengeti, the hustle and bustle of Nairobi or Cape Town, the thunder of Victoria Falls, the gorillas of Uganda, the beaches of Mozambique…the list goes on and on and I cannot pick one favorite!   There are so many different landscapes and animals to experience.  But the common golden thread woven throughout is the people of Africa.  My heart is filled to the brim and my life is richer for the encounters and interactions with so many beautiful people!’

 


 

Sam Hartslief
Client Experience Concierge

Sam was born and raised in Southern Africa, she immigrated to New York in 2000 with her husband Mark, and they have 3 boys all born in the USA. She moved to Mooresville in December 2020 to be closer to family, joined the Hills of Africa team in May 2021, and is so excited to be working with this lovely team. Things she misses and loved about Southern Africa were the sunsets on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, or sitting by the fire in the Kruger Park and hearing the lions roar or the hyenas laughing.

 


 

Kati Knowland
Director of Business Development

Travel has been a part of life for Kati ever since she first stepped on an airplane at age 12 — when her family relocated to Singapore.

After spending 15 years in the publishing and event planning business, Kati decided to pursue her passion for travel full time and became an independent travel advisor in 2017.

As an advisor, Kati loved helping families plan their perfect vacations and sharing the joys of travel with all of her clients.

During her time as a travel advisor, she was able to travel with Hills of Africa several times, visiting South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. Of course, Africa found its way into her heart pretty quickly, so in 2022 when she had an opportunity to join the Hills of Africa team, she jumped at the chance.

After serving as Director of Marketing for about a year, Kati took the plunge and moved over to the sales team. She now works directly with Sandy crafting itineraries and building relationships throughout the industry.

 


 

Lori Garrison
Client Experience Concierge

Lori spent more than a third of her life living overseas. Growing up as a military child and then as an Army wife gave her so many opportunities to travel – after all, she survived 14 overseas moves. During her career as a military spouse, she had many jobs. Lori spent many years as an academic counselor and finally retired from a federal job as an International Staffing Specialist for the Secret Service. She managed logistics, office administration operations, and trained employees and their families as to how they can survive and thrive in an embassy environment.

Her husband and her both retired from DC in June of 2019 and moved to Mooresville. Lori was recalled to work for the Secret Service in November 2019 and agreed as long as she could work from her home in NC. She coordinated evacuations of employees and families to the US from foreign offices due to COVID and continued working from my home in Mooresville until December 2021. She hadn’t planned on going back to work after her second retirement since they had planned on spending their time with their grandkids and traveling, but found that she needed something to keep her occupied since she didn’t know how to retire; Lori joined Hills of Africa in February 2022 and still has a travel bucket list.

The constant theme throughout her career has been taking care of people. Joining the Client Service team at Hills of Africa allows her to continue doing just that.

 


 

Melinda Stevens
Client Experience Concierge

 


 

Amanda Overmyer
Director of Marketing

 


 

Becky Kelly
Client Relationship Coordinator

Becky comes from Wisconsin, where she lived her whole life, until moving to Mooresville in 2022. She joined the Hills of Africa team at the beginning of 2023. After spending over 17 years in the Cosmetology industry, making people happy has also been a focus in her life. Her attention to detail and customer service skills have been valuable to the entire team of Hills of Africa.

Travel has been a big part of her life since her early 30’s. While the ocean tends to call her, her first trip to Southern Africa this year blew her away. Experiencing the sights of the animals, the people, the bush, the sunsets, it was no doubt how special Africa is.