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.
Lisa was born on her family’s farm in Chipata, not far from South Luangwa. Growing up on the farm she became fluent in the local language Chinyanja.
In her late teens she left Zambia to run a cattle ranch on the edge of the inhospitable Kalahari Desert, Botswana. 10 years later, she returned to Lusaka to raise a family (proud mother of Jedra & Amanda). In the last few years she has felt the urge to return to her roots and satisfy her love for the bush, taking on relief roles in camps in South Luangwa and other national parks. Most recently, and for 2 years, Lisa was the food and beverage manager at South Luangwa’s largest lodge and managed 4 of their associated bush camps so she joins Kafunta Safaris as a “Home Grown Expert”.
But ultimately Lisa prefers smaller, rather than larger lodges, where it is easier to get closer to ‘The real Africa’ and easier to get to know our guests’ needs and expectations. In her own words: “My role at Kafunta is to provide the perfect backdrop to your ultimate wilderness experience”.
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.
Both from the Netherlands, Sverre and Anna met each other almost 13 years ago, while working in a restaurant and have been together ever since. Travel & nature are one of their common passions and in September 2013 they left home to work as hotel managers in rural China. This was the beginning of a new career.
In 2014 they set foot on the African continent, and after working on the top of an rocky outcrop in the Ugandan Savannah and on a tropical beach in Zanzibar they joined us in April 2017.
With his studies in hospitality management and experience in luxury restaurants, Sverre is ready to meet the challenge of the first season at Three Rivers Camp, where he will be Camp Manager. Anna has a background in Commercial Economics and her high administrative skills and passion for customer service makes her the perfect Duty Manager at Kafunta River Lodge, and will second Sverre at Three Rivers Camp.
Eugene was moulded in the fruit basket of South Africa, Limpopo, Trichardtsdal, where he grew up on a farm, learned a lot from wildlife and developed a passion for the outdoors. Actually Eugene didn’t just grew up on a farm, he moved, along with his family, over 24 times throughout South Africa, so in a way, he is half gypsy and has already explored a diversity of biomes and met dozens of different people through the land. No wonder he has a love for exploration.
Adventurous at heart, Eugene started climbing trees from a very young age, and still enjoys climbing trees today. If you don’t see him around, look up… he may be in the wild mango or giant fig tree! Eugene also loves bird watching as an enjoyable hobby, and about everything to do with wildlife.
After passing his guiding exam in South Africa, he came to South Luangwa, started as a volunteer at a neighbouring lodge, and fell in love with the beauty and magic of this beautiful place.
After two seasons at Kafunta River Lodge, Eugene is now Camp Manager for Island Bush Camp where he will make sure to make every guests’ stay even more entertaining.
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.
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.