The Kafunta family started with the Cowans many years ago. Ron and Anke met in Australia, Ron’s home country, in 1988. Anke was travelling at the time and they continued their journey together through Asia and back to Anke’s home in Germany where they planned their next big adventure.
In 1990 they left in a Land Rover and travelled through Africa, spending some time in Malawi before discovering the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. It was here that they started their own business in 1993 and where they built Kafunta River Lodge in 1998.
“We instantly fell in love with the Luangwa Valley and decided to make it our home.”
Ron and Anke got married in the Luangwa Valley in 1995 and Luke, their son, was born in 1999. Luke has spent his primary school years at Kafunta where he was home schooled, a real bush school! Now that he is in High School in Australia, the family commutes between their home in Perth and their home at Kafunta where they want to spend their holidays. Both Anke and Ron are fully involved in the management of the lodge, and when at Kafunta you will often see them sharing afternoon tea with guests.
Make sure to ask them about the beginnings of Kafunta, they certainly have a story or two to tell about starting a lodge in remote Africa and living in the bush!
“In the early years we used to take the guests into the park ourselves but these days we seem to be too busy looking after all matters of business, so we wait for the animals to come to us… They visit us regularly at the Lodge.”
Born and bred in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Rob’s childhood couldn’t have been further removed from the bush than the place he now calls home.
From a young age Rob was fascinated by two things, sport and wildlife. Especially African wildlife.
Having dipped his toes in the water back in 2001 and visited several game parks on a trip from Nairobi to Cape Town, he left for the bright lights of Europe and Canada with the thoughts deeply implanted in him of somehow returning to the bush, and into Africa again. He then spent a year in Tanzania studying wildlife at MWEKA, College of African Wildlife Management, and thru a friend there, was introduced to the Luangwa Valley and the amazing abundance and variety of wildlife and birds in the area.
Rob has been a popular figure in the Valley since. Now at Kafunta, he claims he truly has the best job in the world! He gets to indulge in his two passions everyday; sport, thru the local touch rugby and volleyball games, and the bush, which he coexists with everyday.
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.
Anelle steps in as Lodge Manager for Kafunta River Lodge and overall guest liaison.
Wilson was born in the Southern Province and belongs to the Tonga tribe. After completion of his tourism studies in 2001, he worked in different sectors of the tourism industry before joining Kafunta River Lodge in 2005. He is in charge of the Reception and reservations and will welcome you upon arrival. Wilson is passionate about soccer and regularly organises soccer matches for the Kafunta team.
Born and raised in Zambia’s larger cities, Dottie has worked in the hospitality industry for over 17 years. But it is only a few years ago that she discovered the thrills of the African bush and fell in love with it. Since then, there hasn’t been no turning back. After 4 years based in Lower Zambezi National Park, Dottie joins us at Kafunta Safaris to be at the forefront of our guest services. Based at the lodge, she will go the extra mile to ensure the highest standards of services are provided and see that our guests leave with big smiles on their face.
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. His passion remains under the hood of a vehicle and with the company’s fleet growing he has much work on his hands as our workshop manager.
Izzy was born in French-speaking Belgium but has long left her home country to roam the world working for high end hotels and resorts. In 2009 she landed in Southern Africa and fell in love with the African bush. Dedicated to customer service, Izzy is joining our team as Sales & Reservations Manager while assisting our operational team on site.
Izzy shares her time between Kafunta River Lodge and Europe or some other destinations where her marketing projects takes her. Of course she treasures her time at the lodge, and often sneaks out of her office to photograph elephants coming to the water hole.
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 safari’s 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 to come and experience the South Luangwa Valley, and we’re delighted to have him manage Three Rivers Camp where he loves sharing his childhood stories with guests.
A passion for unique wildlife experiences has lead Adam to join the Kafunta team. Born and raised in South Africa, with 10 years’ experience in hospitality, Adam has worked in various key conservation areas. For years he worked as a safari guide in the heart of Zululand. His love for the more wild and remote wilderness areas of Africa saw him joining a project in the Republic of Congo.
He firmly believes that a successful conservation model must balance community involvement, research and tourism. After leaving the gorilla filled jungles of central Africa, Adam pursued his dream of becoming a specialist walking guide in the Kruger National Park. It was there that he also developed his passion for photography. Based at Island Bush Camp Adam feels it is a privilege to live somewhere such as the Luangwa valley and wishes to convey this feeling to all those who visit.
Our guides that take you into the bush 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.
Martin was born in 1965 and is from the Kunda tribe, Martin has followed his lifetime dream to become a Safari guide. Martin and his wife Lydia joined Kafunta in 1997, Martin’s 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.
Andrew Bwalya was born in 1967 in Mpika district (Northern Zambia) and is from the Bemba tribe. Andrew trained at the Wildlife Management College and became a National Parks scout, he also worked as escort scout on the walking safaris before he trained as a safari guide. He passed his exam in 2000 and has been working as guide ever since.
Andrew worked with us while he was a national park scout and joins us again in 2010 as a safari guide. His advanced knowledge of the bush and charming character are well liked by the guests.
Abel joined us in May 2011, he is from the local Kunda tribe and was born in 1978.
Abel became a guide in 2003 and has guided in South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Mosi o Tunya National Park. He studied Wildlife Management in Tanzania before returning to Zambia.
Abel has had a passion for wildlife since an early age, he never gets bored of watching animals and loves sharing his passion with others. Guiding is his true passion.
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 in the area and we are always happy to offer young Zambians the opportunity to train in different professions and further their careers.