Welcome to the Wilderness family

Our Collective


Cultures & Communities

Janine Avery


From a baby born in the Zimbabwean bush who later went on to wed in the wilderness, to a budding chef introduced to conservation back as a child at a Namibian camp, and a Botswana guide born and raised in a tiny village on the edge of the Okavango, and many others… meet the people who have grown up in the embrace of the Wilderness family.

Wilderness About Us Camp Staff Family


Born – and married – at Ruckomechi!


Christine Atkinson’s dad is Tich Atkinson, who managed and guided at Wilderness Ruckomechi around 1990. One February, Christine’s pregnant mum, Caroline paid her dad a visit when the camp was closed during the summer rainy season. Soon followed a remarkable storm and it was in camp that Christine was born. In this image with her dad, they are standing next to Tent 1, which is where she was born.


After Christine's engagement to her now-husband Simon at Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, Caroline mentioned that it would make a great story to get married in the camp where she was born. And so it transpired that she had a small wedding ceremony in Mana Pools, followed by a larger celebration in Harare for her extended family and friends.


“When we arrived in camp we discovered that Little Ruckomechi is now situated where Ruckomechi had originally been all those years ago, and the manager Eddie and his team made a huge effort to turn their camp into the most beautiful wedding location. Our fantastic guide Englebert, along with a few members of the team, played mbiras through the ceremony, after which we had some delicious snacks and Champagne to celebrate. We then went back to main camp for lunch followed by a stunning sunset cruise. The team had prepared a special cake for us, which we continued to enjoy over the next few days. We were extremely lucky at that time of year to see some fantastic game, including elephant coming through camp, and watched a stunning young male leopard sawing in the river bed and shortly after a herd of elephant with some tiny babies. A huge thank you must go to the teams at both camps for making it such a truly spectacular and memorable day!”

Born in the wilderness

“Mana Pools holds a hugely special place in my heart, but Ruckomechi even more so. As I was so young, I sadly don’t remember my time there, but have seen many photos and heard the most fantastic stories. To this day elephants are just my favourite animals!”
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From learner to chef in the Namib Desert

Edison Gevin Awarab first visited Wilderness Desert Rhino Camp as part of our Children in the Wilderness (CITW) programme, which aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa. It was on that particular camp that he learned to care for the environment in a sustainable way, and to conserve it for future generations.

It was also on this trip that his future became clear. Edison took a keen interest in cooking after seeing how the chefs were preparing the food, and he decided he too wanted to be a chef. Edison is currently at Wilderness Desert Rhino Camp where he first worked in the scullery and now works as a trainee chef, on his way to hopefully one day securing the top job.


“My advice to aspiring kids,” he says, “is stay focused, stay grounded; work, believe in your abilities and form a mindset that can lead you to success. Be optimistic. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and just checking out what the chefs were doing until I become one. You have to be in it with hard work to make it”.

Wilderness Jao Activities Boating

A family legacy in Botswana’s Okavango Delta

David, Cathy, and Martin Kays, the long-term leaseholders of the Jao Reserve, have been intrinsically linked with the Okavango Delta for generations. The Kays are one of Maun's oldest families, their roots stretching back to a time when the land was untamed, and the echoes of the wild were louder than the hum of human civilisation.

When the Batawana decided to establish a village at Maun around 1915, the Kays were a part of this historic migration, moving alongside the tribe they had grown to respect and admire, and David's father, Ronnie, played a significant role in shaping the region's future. He served as an advisor to the Batawana Tribal Authorities, guiding them in the formation of Moremi Game Reserve.


In 1999, they built three camps – Jao, Jacana, and Kwetsani. Wilderness Jao was the first of its kind in the Okavango Delta, a premier safari lodge that put Botswana on the global map of high-end tourism. This was followed by the construction of Tubu Tree Camp in 2002, and Little Tubu in 2012. Pelo was also built the same year.



Today, David, Cathy, and Martin operate as a tight family unit. Martin’s daughter and son have been exposed to the Okavango camp life from babyhood and enjoy a unique upbringing. They love experiencing the wilderness whenever the opportunity allows and continue the legacy of the Kays in the Okavango Delta, a legacy of love for the land, respect for its people, and a commitment to its preservation.

Read the full story here

A young man with a big dream


When Wilderness opened its first lodge in Zambia’s Kafue National Park back in 2006, four intrepid young men decided that they wanted to work for the company. Led by fearless Chrispin Kibinda, they embarked on an intrepid adventure to meet us. Unbeknown to us, these four men soon found out that their path to our camp, Wilderness Shumba, was blocked by seasonal floodwaters that had filled the plains. Undeterred, they went about fashioning an oversized canoe from a rather large tree.



After spending a night in the company of hippos, they continued to paddle their makeshift mokoro, “slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly,” until they reached Shumba. These intrepid explorers were hired on the spot to help build the new lodge, and their makeshift boat bought from them for a tidy sum. It can still be seen in the main area, pride of place in a great photo.



When the new safari camp opened, Chrispin was trained and employed as a housekeeper in the camp, working his way up to waiter in just one year. Now, more than 16 years on, Chrispin is still following his wilderness dream, employed as Head Waiter at Wilderness Shumba. In his words, “It is my favourite job. I like it very much”.

From CITW camper to Wilderness guide

Segopotso Oja, known to everyone as See, was born and raised in a small village called Eretsha in Botswana, located in the eastern Okavango Panhandle. He grew up in a large family surrounded by 29 siblings. His friends like to tease him that his family forms half of the village’s population.


Eretsha offered limited facilities, so the people who lived there had to depend on the neighbouring village for food, medicine, schools and other supplies. The long 17 km daily walk between the two villages meant that people often came into contact with wildlife along the way. As a result, See learnt from a very young age all about these wild animals, their tracks and behaviour.

When See was 10 years old, he was given the opportunity to join a CITW Eco-Camp. Here he learnt about the importance of protecting our wilderness, which inspired him to pursue a career as a guide. This led him to join the Okavango Community Trust, shadowing professional guides.


In 2017, See officially joined the Wilderness family as a relief co-ordinator at Wilderness Mombo and Wilderness Vumbura Plains, giving him the chance to further his learnings and passion for the wild. He progressed to Trainee Guide in 2021 and has since proudly qualified as a Professional Guide.



Currently based at Wilderness DumaTau, See is an inspiration to many. “Indeed, my journey with Wilderness has changed my life, and now I am in a position to give back by sharing and introducing some of Earth’s ultimate, untamed places to my guests”, he says.

From scholarship student to CITW Eco-Mentor


Back in 2012, a young Ishmael Tshuma joined the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) scholarship programme at Zimbabwe’s Mpindo Primary School. Here his passion for the environment and conservation was ignited and his love and dedication earned him a spot at CITW’s 2014 annual camp held at Wilderness Davison’s.


After completing secondary school, Ishmael went on to train as a teacher, and once qualified came back to the place where his journey originally started: Mpindo Primary School. Now Ishmael’s journey from student to teacher has come full circle as he has volunteered to become a CITW Eco-Mentor. We are immensely proud that Ishmael has chosen to use this passion to educate the young eco-warriors of the future where he once grew up.


“I give because I received. I received because I gave,” says Ishmael.


Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.