This month, we take you to Southern Africa where we met up with our camp managers. From sharing their stories to telling us more about what they each love about the camps and their respective region. Read on to find out about your host on your next safari adventure with us.
Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, Botswana
Both originally from Cape Town, Michelle and Gerhard have worked in some remarkable places. Starting off as photographers on cruise ships in the Caribbean, their adventures brought them to South Africa, then Botswana where they managed lodges in the Okavango Delta, before ending up with Sanctuary Retreats in Tanzania in 2018. Today, Michelle and Gerhard manage Sanctuary Chief’s Camp located on Chief’s Island in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve, also known as the predator capital of Botswana.
From the migration in the Serengeti to tracking predators in the Delta, this adventurous couple has seen and done it all! Michelle and Gerhardt host guests with such passion that one can only feel at home when looked after by them. Listen in when they give recommendations on how to enjoy your stay, and most importantly take the time to ask questions about the destination, its story, and its culture. Michelle and Gerhardt’s love for Africa, its people, and wildlife are so infectious that they ensure you wake up each morning hungry to explore more.
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp, Botswana
Basadi was born and raised in Orapa, a village 25 kilometres from Francistown. Knowing she wanted a career that enabled lots of interaction with people, the hospitality industry came as one of her top choices. After studying Hospitality Management, Basadi joined the Sanctuary Retreats team in 2002 as a waitress for 2 and half years, she was later promoted to trainee manager for another 2 years and worked her way up the ladder. It was at Sanctuary Stanley’s camp in 2012, that her potential was recognized by superiors before she was sent off to the flagship Sanctuary Chief’s Camp to assume the position of assistant GM. Coming back to Stanleys in November 2022 as General Manager was like coming back home fro ehr.
Having worked at all our Botswana camps, Basadi is the perfect person to go to should you have any questions about the region or to find out what makes Sanctuary Stanley’s camp extra special. From the beautiful mokoro rides to wildlife spotting, she is always excited to share with guests everything her camp has to offer
Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, Botswana
Loretta comes from the North-East part of Botswana known as Francistown. She joined Sanctuary Retreats in 2019 when she started as a Relief Lodge Manager before securing her current position as a Camp Manager at Baines’ Camp.
Adamant to build a career in the hospitality industry since her childhood, joining Sanctuary Retreats has broadened her experience giving her the skillset she needed to become the manager we always knew she could be. Loretta knows the region and the camp like the back of her hand, whether you are looking for advice on what activity to do outside of Sanctuary Baines’ Camp or within its walls she will have the answer you are looking for.
Born in Maun and raised in the Okavango Delta by his grandmother, Tseo’s roots in the Delta run deep in his upbringing. With both parents working in the tourism industry, setting on a similar career was a childhood dream of his. Having worked at Sanctuary Retreats for 8 years, Tseo is now an integral part of this family. Greeting every guest with a warm welcome, he ensures everyone feels comfortable and will go above and beyond to deliver an unforgettable Sanctuary Retreats experience. Deeply passionate about sharing his culture and the history of the camp, Tseo could tell you the story behind every detail found at Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, as well as its beautiful surroundings.
Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero, Botswana
KB and Busi met in the Delta in 2013 and both had similar reasons of why they ventured into the hospitality and tourism industry - both are passionate about the Bush and Busi loves travelling! KB is from Serowe (a village in the central part of Botswana, also home to the first president of Botswana – Sir Seretse Khama), and Busi is from Maun. They both grew up in their respective villages and Busi then went to study in South Africa, while KB moved to Gaborone. Working in the bush felt like a natural calling for both managers as it enabled them to live out the lifestyle they loved. From meeting guests from all over the world and sharing cultures to experiencing incredible wildlife encounters in jaw-dropping surroundings, it felt like an opportunity too hard to pass. After being with Sanctuary Retreats for nearly 6 years, they have settled in very well and feel part of the Sanctuary family. During your stay at Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero, make sure to sit down with KB and Busi and listen to them talk with a heartfelt passion for the camp, the burning sunsets over the Chobe River, and how to make the most of your stay there.
Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma, Zambia
Kate was born in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands into an artistic family and from a very young age interacted with clients who visited her parent’s gallery. Through her parents' international exhibitions, she was fortunate to travel from a young age. After finishing school, she headed to England and began working in the hospitality industry before returning to South Africa. Over the following ten years, Kate sharpened her skillset and expertise before finally joining Sanctuary Retreats. Managing with an infectious energy and deep passion for the region, Kate sees it as a privilege to host foreign and local guests ensuring they enjoy the best Southern Africa has to offer.
A qualified aircraft technician by trade with a love of travel and the bush, Hugo was born in Cape Town into a military family. With his father being an air force commander, the family moved to Portugal for a posting where Hugo went to school and saw a love for travel ignite. After completing his studies, he set off to England and the rest of Europe. First working in restaurants and bars before quickly moving into management, Hugo then spent numerous years leading tours across Southern Africa and falling in love with the bush. Hugo’s calm and friendly nature makes him a natural favourite with guests and staff alike.
Leading guests to their first wildlife encounter, or to enjoy a cocktail from a boat while watching the sun set on the Zambezi or the famous Victoria Falls, this dynamic duo makes sure that each stay at Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma is nothing short of amazing.
Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, Namibia
Hilma was born and raised at Tsandi, a small settlement located Northeast of Opuwo. Her love for travelling and discovering new places made it an easy career choice when she chose to study Tourism. With 14 years of experience under her belt, and being fluent in English, Oshiwanbo, and Otjiherero, she is a key member of our Sanctuary family.
Since first being encouraged by a friend to apply for the position, Hilma hasn't looked back! It has now been 7 years since she first started at the lodge but as she so kindly put it "working alongside a great team has made it feel like two weeks". One thing is for sure, Hilma has been integral to making Okahirongo Elephant Lodge 'the most beautiful remote lodge in Namibia', according to her guests.
Okahirongo Elephant Lodge combines the elements around it to make it the perfect remote luxury experience. With majestic landscapes, solitary experiences, amazing desert wildlife, African decoration, and offroad adventures you are exposed to a real soul-healing journey. Also, most importantly, this is the place where you can get a close contact experience with the last Nomadic people of Kaokoland known as the Ovahimba: the red people are still glued to their cultural roots even in the 21st century.
Himba by tribe, Pollen was born in the dusty village of Sesfontein, roughly 110 km from the lodge. Growing up in this part of Namibia, conservation and tourism played a big part in his upbringing. During school holidays, he always visited his father who worked at the Skeleton Coast park, and it didn't take long for Pollen to fall in love with nature and wildlife. From then on, his mind was set on wanting to show the wonders of Namibia to the rest of the world. He set out to pursue a career in Tourism before joining Okahirongo Lodges in 2006.
With a lifetime of experience in the travel industry and 16 years at the lodge, Pollen's knowledge of the region is unmatched, and being able to share it through the lodge is something unique according to him. As he put it "at Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, the setup, architecture, and decorations are special. The camp encompasses the beauty and spirit of this part of Namibia, and guests feel that during their stay here". His love for Africa can almost be infectious at times. We asked Pollen what activity was a MUST for guests staying at Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, to which he replied "tracking the rare endangered Black Rhino. This experience accompanied by a bush breakfast is nothing short of awesome".
Okahirongo River Camp, Namibia
Originally from Otupaji Village, a small settlement in the Omaruru - Erongo Region, Irene spent most of her childhood in Windhoek where she completed her studies. After several roles in the hospitality and tourism industry, she finally landed at Okahirongo River Camp as an Assistant Camp Manager in 2018, before finally becoming the camp's General Manager. Throughout her time here, Irene has nurtured a special relationship with her staff and guests. Treating each guest like a family member, she has built beautiful memories ensuring everyone left Okahirongo River Camp with a fulfilled heart, longing to come back soon. Irene is the heart and soul of the camp, should you have any questions about your stay or the destination, she is your go-to person.