Hi there, fellow creative creatures!
I’m Jigar Ganatra, travel filmmaker and the founder of Halisia Travel. I’m honoured that you want to know how Halisia came to life. Brace yourself, it’s quite a passionate story.
The story starts with a clear vision I had: To transform the image of Africa from the starving child with a fly on her face begging for aid, to the abundant, colourful and strong-spirited continent that it also is, all while creating a network of inspired and creative storytellers who want to make an impact on the world.
I developed this vision during my lectures while I was studying International Studies at York University in Canada. Fortunately, unlike my other African counterparts from other degrees, I wasn’t asked by my peers silly questions like “Do you live with animals?” or “Do you have electricity?”. You see, my classmates studied International Studies so they knew that Africa was not a country full of wild animals, and it was actually a massive continent with a rich history. Despite this, they still had an obscure perception of Africa that was far from reality. A perception of corrupt governments, civil wars, climate crises, and development struggles. I am not saying all that doesn’t exist, but there is far more about Africa that the world could benefit from understanding; things such as the spirit of African people, the unique groove of the traditional music and dance, the exquisite cuisine, the awe-inspiring belief systems, and so much more.
There are things about Africa that are really hard to explain, yet alone learn about in a lecture hall. It was really frustrating for me to explain the wonders of my homeland to students and professors in uni. That is when I got the idea “What if they could go and experience it for themselves?” And when I pondered about this idea, I still thought that it would be problematic. I thought that if they went there themselves, they would probably stay in luxurious resorts, go on a safari with a foreign tour company, and drink cocktails with other tourists on a beautiful beach, just like most people visiting my home country of Tanzania do. They wouldn’t have an authentic experience or understand the context of the culture and the environment they are in. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands and host real experiences that connect travelers with people on the ground.
As an avid travel filmmaker myself, I strive to have meaningful experiences and interview people on the grassroots wherever I go. This way of traveling has helped me learn so much more than what I learned in university. I connected with so many inspiring people around the world through my filmmaking and made lifelong friends and mentors. Equipped with my camera gear and an intention to grow as a person, I’ve learned invaluable lessons from a wide range of people including Jane Goodall, indigenous shamans from the Amazon rainforest, Buddhist monks in the Himalayas, Tibetan activists, Tanzanian fishermen, Maasai herders and so many more. Having such extraordinary experiences in my travels left me speechless, and then turned me into a storyteller. When I shared my lessons with other people, it opened up their perception of the world too and challenged them to think differently. I realized that I wanted to share my passion and curiosity with the world, and hat is how Halisia was born.
Founder, Halisia Travel