Kafunta Safaris Team
DIRECTORS AND OWNERS
Kafunta began many years ago with the Cowans… In 1988, Ron and Anke met in Ron’s native Australia when Anke was travelling. Ron joined her on her adventure, continuing through Asia and on to Germany, Anke’s home, where they planned the next leg. In 1990, in their trusty Land Rover, they journeyed through Africa, spending time in Malawi before falling in love with the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. Kafunta River Lodge was built in 1998 and has been their home ever since.
SAM NKHOMA CHIWAYU
Sam was born in Chipata and attended school in Mfuwe. His safari experience started at Mfuwe Lodge, where he qualified as a grade 2 guide in 1998 and a couple of years later he was the first indigenous Zambian to top the Walking exams. He spent several years conducting mobile trips from Nairobi to Cape Town before returning to Zambia, holding senior positions with Wilderness Safaris as well as Sanctuary Retreats, along with managing boutique hotels such as Latitude 15 in Lusaka. Along the way Sam completed a diploma in Hotel Operations followed by a baccalaureate in Hospitality Administration and Business Administration. But the appeal of the bush (and wearing khaki shorts again) was too strong. We are delighted to have Sam as our Operations Manager since December 2021.
Kafunta Lodge Manager
Born in Kabwe and raised in Lusaka, Kolo is an exceptionally energetic person with a passion for people, nature and travels. She is also an accomplished runner and scuba diver. But the bush is where she belongs and truly reveals herself. Kolo has been working in the safari industry since 2008, holding operational roles at properties such as Chinzombo, Nsolo, Musekese and Royal Zambezi Lodge. She also worked for Robin Pope Safaris and Wilderness Safaris as travel consultant. Kolo’s pep and smile are irresistible and we’re delighted to have her with us to share her passion with our guests while looking after their well-being.
Bush Camp Operations Manager
Theuns, or TJ as we call him, was born in South Africa in 1976. He was brought up on a game farm, sleeping next to camp fires from the age of two. Always fascinated by all creatures big and small he spent hours walking and enjoying nature and at the age of 8 he was taking guests out on safaris on his parents’ game farm. With Africa in his blood, TJ started managing game lodges in 2011 as well as completed a FGASA Level 1 field guide course. It has been a life long dream for him to come and experience the South Luangwa Valley. Since 2018 TJ has taken on several roles overlooking the smooth operation of our remote camps, coordinating logistics and assisting at the lodge in the low season.
Safari Manager & Senior Guide
Island Bush Camp Manager
Martin was born in 1965 from the Kunda tribe and has fulfilled his lifetime dream of becoming a safari guide. Martin joined Kafunta in 1997 when we first built the lodge and has been with us all along! His pleasant nature, incredible knowledge and irresistible sense of humour have made him one of most respected guides in the Luangwa Valley. Martin is looking after our guiding team and this 2022 season he will be managing Island Bush Camp, his all time favorite. He also continues to take our guests out on safari, especially in the low season.
Born in Kitwe in the Copperbelt, Levy came with his parents to the Eastern Province when he was still a young child. Following in his father’s step, he became a mechanic and was one of the first staff members hired at Kafunta over 20 years ago. Ever since he has worked closely with Ron & Anke Cowan to build and to constantly improve all our properties. Although you are more likely to find him under the hood of a vehicle, Levy oversees the overall state of the lodge and camps as our Maintenance Manager.
ISABELLE (IZZY) DEFOURNY
Sales & Marketing Manager
Izzy is a French-speaking Belgian who has been roaming the world working for high end hotels and resorts for over 23 years. In 2009 she landed in Southern Africa and fell in love with the African bush. With an exceptional background in customer service and marketing, she joined us in 2015 as Sales & Reservations Manager. Nowadays Izzy works mostly remotely from her countryside home in the “high peaks” of Belgium looking after our sales and marketing duties. She’s the face of our company for many of our trade partners and our voice behind our social media and newsletters.
Ritta was born and raised in Lusaka, and in her early 20’s she spent time in Uganda where she graduated with a diploma in Tourism Management. At her return in Lusaka, she started her professional career in the safari industry. She has spent over 12 years handling reservations and communication for companies such as Stars of Africa, Sanctuary Retreats (A&K) and Chiawa Safaris. A mother of three children, Ritta loves cooking and travelling, and enjoys short escapes to the bush. Based in her home office in Lusaka, she is looking after all our reservations, answering calls and emails from our guests around the world.
Betty was born in Mpika and raised in Lusaka, growing up in a big family filled with daily challenges. That’s exactly why working in the tourism industry reminds her of home! A graduate from the Zambia Institute of Tourism & Hospitality, she started her career at The Quorum, an exclusive boutique hotel in Lusaka. Seeking a bush experience, Betty joined Kafunta in April 2022 and was immediately smitten! Her enthusiasm and cheerful nature make her a brilliant host for our guests.
Our guides are extremely well trained and knowledgeable. The majority of them have passed the high level Grade 1 safari exams and are qualified to escort walking and driving safaris. They will ensure your trip is both safe and memorable. With their extensive knowledge, they can provide insight into the complex and fascinating world of the African wildlife and habitat, as well as local traditions, beliefs and bush remedies as only a traditional, local guide can.
We are proud to say that a high number of the local staff that helped us build Kafunta are still working at the lodge. Many of them have had the opportunity to train in professions like room attendants, barmen, mechanics, waiters and cooks. We employ more than 30 permanent workers and many more during the season. Most of our staff are from the local tribal villages and we are always happy to offer young Zambians the opportunity to train in different professions and further their careers.