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.
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. After managing Three Rivers Camp during the 2018 season, we are delighted to see TJ step up in the role of Kafunta Lodge Manager.
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 the Luangwa Valley and managing Luwi Bush Camp. Sam went on to hold 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 the idea of dropping the city suit for khaki shorts again) was too strong. His role at Kafunta is extensive and encompasses front office, human resources, procurement and accounting.
ISABELLE (IZZY) DEFOURNY
Sales & Reservations Manager
Izzy was born in French-speaking Belgium but has been roaming the world working for high end hotels and resorts for over 20 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 Europe or where marketing missions may take her; although she always looks forward to spending several weeks at the lodge twice a year.
Safari Manager & Senior Guide
Martin was born in 1965 and is from the Kunda tribe and has fulfilled his lifetime dream of becoming a safari guide. Martin and his wife Lydia joined Kafunta in 1997. His pleasant nature and attention to detail have earned him a very good name as a safari guide and he is very well liked by our guests.
Island Bush Camp Manager
Stephan was born and raised in the northern part of Kwazulu Natal (South Africa), and grew up on his family farm just outside Dundee. From a young age he appreciated the outdoors and respected what it has to offer. After matriculating he studied tourism and psychology, but felt the need to explore other cultures. So for the best part of the next 5 years Stephan lived and worked in England managing all sorts of major sporting and social events. He returned to South Africa to work in a large restaurant as a senior kitchen manager for 5 years, but longed for the outdoors, the peace and quiet, and the quality of life that only being in nature can offer. He switched to a boutique hotel in the Drakensberg on a nature reserve, where he was the General Manager.
For Stephan, being close to nature is the most important thing. He’ll happily tell you what his two most important life lessons are: to make time to stop and smell the roses (or whatever flower the bush has to offer!), and appreciate the moment you find yourself in. And secondly, when in doubt you must light the fire and have a braai.
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.
Anelle’s passion for hospitality started over 22 years ago when she took on a part-time waitressing job as a teenager while attending school in South Africa. After finishing school she moved to the UK and continued waitressing while also travelling the world, and eventually settled as manager of a fine-dining English pub in Oxfordshire.
This is where she honed her skills in first class food & beverage services, and exceptional guest attention. During her eight years with the company she had the privilege of meeting several Michelin star chefs. In 2013 Anelle decided to move back to South Africa, as she was longing for the African sun, but could not bear the thought of working for a city property. That is when she discovered the bush. On her first night she experienced the call of a lion and the whoop of a hyena, and she was hooked. After one season as Kafunta Lodge Manager, Anelle was promoted to Operations Manager.
Our guides are extremely well trained and knowledgeable. They have all 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 interesting. 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.