Born in Zimbabwe, the CEO and founder of Roar Africa splits her time between New York and Cape Town — but still spends half the year traveling through Southern and East Africa to vet properties, meet new guides and specialists, and gather inspiration for bespoke itineraries. (In the past year, she’s landed in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles, Madagascar, and Kenya.) Safaris are her company’s bread and butter — right now, she’s particularly excited about Zambia’s newly restored Liuwa Plain National Park, home of some of the country’s most exciting wildlife, unspoiled landscapes, and the luxurious Time + Tide King Lewanika lodge. But Calmeyer is also passionate about what she calls the Africa’s other “big five”: food, fashion, art, culture, and design. She can curate experiences like chef-led city tours, architecture walks, home and garden tours of historic properties, and meetings with local artists to show clients a destination through a cultural lens.
"I had been a somewhat regular visitor to Africa before I met Deborah Calmeyer—mostly for the work I did with women’s empowerment and anti violence groups and as a documentary filmmaker. But from the first time my husband and I traveled on a Roar Africa journey, it was clear that we were experiencing Africa—specifically, with trips to Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and South Africa—on a very different, deeper and more individualized level. Each itinerary that Deborah designs is all about private access to people and places matched with such a delicate hand to each traveler’s specific DNA. No other Africa specialist that I’ve ever ever known has her access to the special experiences she has shared with us: tracking academy, Girls College of Tourism, the Masai Olympics, thought leader presentations, private gardens and art collections, top level safari camps. Her presence on the ground is palpable even when she’s not there. Her loyal team functions like a family, and she’s friends with the property owners (sometimes, the relationship goes back to school days) as well as top chefs, artists, musicians, and fashion designers. They have all been very willing, even excited, to welcome us to their homes, shops, galleries, concerts, and gardens." - Pat Mitchell