Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris started out as Lawson’s Specialised Tours in 1990, founded by avid birder and nature enthusiast Peter Lawson. Prior to launching the company, Peter was involved in the insurance business, which meant lots of time behind a desk and not enough time out birding. Taking a gamble on tourism, and bird tourism that, at a time when international tourism to South Africa was virtually non-existent, Peter broke the bottle of bubbly on the hull of Lawson’s on the 1st of September 1990 and pushed it into the water to see if it would float. Among his first international clients were Clive and Philippa Manvell, who to this day are still loyal Lawson’s clients. In the days before the widespread use of email and the internet, and before the wealth of books and apps on birding spots, Peter had to get out there to find the stakeouts and hot spots for particular species. Many of these, first pioneered by Peter, are still used today, not only by Lawson’s but by other companies as well.

The business gradually grew and in 1994 his daughter Mavourneen joined the company and she is now the major shareholder in the business. Peter’s son Bruce, a well know figure in the guiding community, also joined the company for several stints, before finally settling in the field of guide training. With Bruce’s final withdrawal from the company there was a gap for some new blood, and in 2007 Leon Marais joined the company.

In 2010 Peter Lawson finally retired from the business, and today Mavourneen and Leon run the business. They are ably assisted by Sue Ricketts as reservations officer, Lyndell Luyt as one of our handlers of enquiries and set-departure manager, Nadine Strydom as fleet manager (yip, we even have a vehicle fleet now!) among other roles and John Davies as our East African expert and full-time guide. Since Peter’s pioneering days Lawson’s have expanded operations to include not only birding trips but general wildlife trips as well, and have started operating in other countries such as Uganda, Zambia and Malawi. Despite the growth Lawson’s still retains that family-run, small business ethos, which our valued clients appreciate.

We’re confident in saying that “you’ll want to return to Africa with us time and time again!”

Mavourneen Pearce at 3 years old giving the binoculars a try at Mkuze Game Reserve in 1966.
Mavourneen Pearce at 3 years old giving the binoculars a try at Mkuze Game Reserve in 1966.