“We’re not just a Surf Tour Company. We’re traveling and surfing companions.”
Unravel Surf Travel was founded as a partnership between Hermann Vivier and Jenya Zhivaleva. They met one another while studying in Amsterdam in 2008 and after completing their studies moved back to Hermann’s home near Cape Town, South Africa.
They married in 2010 and soon afterwards decided to start a business in the travel and tourism industry. Unravel Surf Travel was born out of their desire to keep traveling, to experience as much of the world as possible, and to share some of that experience with others.
Hermann was born near Cape Town and his family moved to a coastal town on the west-coast of South Africa when he was 5 years old. He started surfing soon after, learning in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. He started traveling at age 16, first spending a year living abroad and attending high school in Denmark, before later working and traveling through various other parts of Europe. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Film and Philosophy from the University of Cape Town. He writes a blog about various topics at vryfokkenou.com.
Jenya was born in modern day Ukraine but her family moved to small town in north-western Russia when the USSR collapsed. She left to study in Saint Petersburg when she was 16 and upon completing her undergraduate studies worked there for several years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Business Science from the University of Amsterdam, with a focus on creativity in business. She’s been taking photographs professionally since 2010 and has a wide ranging portfolio, including weddings, portraits, families and events.
Alongside Unravel Surf Travel Hermann and Jenya also founded The Surfer Kids NON-Profit, initially running the non-profit as an extension of their business, but later establishing it as an independent entity. Hermann is still actively involved as Chairman of the NPO.
Hermann and Jenya live near Mossel Bay, in the Southern Cape of South Africa, with their two sons, Kando and Zhivu.
Daniel Krone – Driver Guide & Surf Coach
Daniel was only 4 years old when his father first put him on a surfboard and pushed him into a wave. By the time he was a young teenager Daniel was surfing in the company of the top junior surfers in South Africa. He competed against names that have since gone on to become household items in the the world of professional surfing.
His competitive experience later led him into the world of judging and he’s worked as a judge at many local and regional surfing competitions. But Daniel’s passion did not lie in competitive surfing. As he became older his surfing style matured and became more smooth, drawing elongated lines across the wave face, with less focus on the constant aggressive turns that must score high in competitions.
He initially started giving surf lessons as a way to finance his travels, but later discovered that surf coaching was a very natural and fun progression for him. Surf Coaching took the highly relevant experience he gained in the structured world of competitive surfing and utilized it in a way that was more relaxed, loose and fun.
Daniel is a qualified Surf Coach, Tourist Guide and a Professional Driver and works for Unravel Surf Travel as a Driver Guide & Surf Coach. When Daniel isn’t surfing, he enjoys playing the guitar, writing music and skating.
Aleksandr Fomin – Assistant & Operations
Before coming to South Africa Aleks was based in Moscow and worked in information security. He discovered surfing for the first time while on holiday in Bali in 2014 and fell in love with riding waves. As a result he started traveling at every opportunity in pursuit of surfing.
Aleks’ acquaintance with South Africa began in 2017 when he joined Unravel Surf Travel on a Cape Town – Garden Route Surf Trip. He’d been to many places where there were more surfers in the water than seabirds in the air. But in South Africa he found empty line-ups and nature. He fell in love and soon decided he wanted to find a way to spend more time in the country.
He returned in 2018 to volunteer with The Surfer Kids Non-Profit, initially for a period of only two months but later for another seven months. He worked in the position of Volunteer Coordinator, liaising between the NPO structure and the individual volunteers themselves.
Aleks continues to work for The Surfer Kids Non-Profit, helping with website design and software solutions and in 2019 he also joined Unravel Surf Travel, working as an in intern in the capacity of Assistant & Operations.
During Surf Trips Aleks plays the role of Translator, Assistant Surf Coach and Group Leader. He has a hidden talent for stage acting, which he studied at one point, and enjoys talking in front of groups, conveying important information in ways that are fun and engaging.