The Kafunta Safaris Team

Directors and Owners

Ron & Anke Cowan and Their Son Luke

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.”

Operations Manager

Theuns Kruger

It has been a life long dream to come and experience the South Luangwa Valley, After managing our camp Three Rivers for 6 months, we are delighted to see TJ step up in the role of Operations Manager for our three properties. 

Lodge Manager

Anelle Dessels

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.

Assistant Manager


Wilson Malambo

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.

Workshop Manager

Levy Chulu

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.

Sales & Reservations Manager

Isabelle (Izzy) Defourny

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.


Safari Guides

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 Mbewe


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.

Abel Banda


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.

Jabes Banda

Chapuma Chirwa

John Mwape


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.