We are from many countries, backgrounds and experiences but we all share a passionate belief in a few important things.
Firstly, ecotourism, as a central pivot of the wildlife economy, is a critically important driver of African conservation;
Secondly, rural people (often neighbours or owners of conservation areas) are a vital part of modern conservation;
Thirdly, the planet, its ecosystem services and its biodiversity are a shared natural heritage and an understanding of, and connection with, nature is necessary for the future of the human race.
The Wild Expeditions collective are Zimbabwean, Ethiopian, Malagasy, South African and even German and all began cutting our ecotourism teeth independently from the mid-1990s. We fell into the industry one way or another (basically driven by a passion for the environment and a desire to share it and our respective cultures with visitors) in a variety of countries and roles … guides, camp managers, accountants, ecologists. Over nearly 30 years we worked all over Africa – east, west, southern, the Indian Ocean islands – and helped build other people’s companies before branching out on our own in 2020 to start independent camps and companies that allowed us to do things our way in the places we wanted to do them.
Over the years the founders came across each other in remote parts of Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, industry events and elsewhere, and in 2020 we took the plunge and decided that our visions had too much in common for us not to collaborate. And so Wild Expeditions Africa was born.
Country Manager for Wild Expeditions Ethiopia, Yulia is based in Addis Ababa where her career in nature-based and cultural tourism in Ethiopia and further afield in East Africa began in 2006. Her experience in designing and overseeing tours across the country for a number of other companies together with her prior exposure to international relations, marketing, and translation in other industries made Yulia the perfect choice for Wild Expeditions when she joined in 2019. Not only does Yulia speak her native Tigrinya, but she is also fluent in English and Amharic and (impressively) has a working proficiency in sign language meaning she can impart her passion for Ethiopia pretty extensively!
A Kara elder from the village of Dus, Lale Biwa is a renowned guide to the lower Omo Valley from the base of the eponymous Lale’s Camp. His standing locally, together with his command of multiple languages and dialects, mean that Lale is the ideal person to provide a respectful and sensitive link between international travellers and the remote tribal cultures of this part of Ethiopia. It is something that Lale has been doing for decades, originally with his mentor the late Halewijn Scheurman. In his words: “I’m grateful to be able to help visitors understand more about the Kara, Hamer and Mursi communities, and the challenges that they’re facing today.”
Born in Addis Ababa, Bemnet (or ‘Bem’) is passionate about travel and being exposed to new environments, cultures, customs and beliefs. It is a passion that was inculcated in him as a youngster when accompanying his father on business trips around Ethiopia. It is the historical circuit of the north of Ethiopia – Amahara, Tigray and beyond – where his expertise is most developed and where for more than a decade he has hosted and guided guests from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Equally adept at answering the needs of the first-time traveller or those of seasoned specialists Bem’s familiarity with the highlands of the Ethiopia mean he is also an excellent birder.
One of the founders of Wild Expeditions Ethiopia, Tihitina, or Titi, was born and raised in a town in the Ethiopian Rift Valley called Hawassa. Inspired by her late father, who was passionate about the tourism industry and one of the founders of the former Lumale Tours, Titi studied Tourism Management at the University of Gondar in the northern highlands and thereafter joined Lumale Tours in 2012 as office administrator and later Operations Manager. Since 2016 Titi has formed a core part of the Ethiopian team of Wild Expeditions as the Sales Manager, a position where she is able to indulge her passion for promoting Ethiopia’s historical, cultural and natural treasures to travellers from around the world.
A budding career in law was abandoned early in Pierre’s adulthood in favour of adventure and pioneering sea kayak expeditions in the Great Rift Valley and the east African coast. This led to settling down on Lake Malawi and building two award-winning island eco-lodges in the mid-1990’s. Itchy feet led to Madagascar and the remote Masoala Peninsula in the north-east of the island. The annual Masoala kayak expeditions became legendary and resulted in the creation of the Masoala Forest Lodge, where Pierre and his wife Maria have built a fantastic team of Malagasy staff from the local villages and raised their two young children.
A year-long adventure from her hometown Aachen in Germany, through Africa, culminating in Cape Town, was undertaken in an old ice cream truck. Yes, an ice cream truck. It was a trip that introduced Maria to two loves of her life. The first (after thousands of kilometres of diverse scenery, wildlife and interesting cultures) was Africa, the second her now husband Pierre, who she met in Cape Town at the end of the trip. A whirlwind romance took her to Madagascar with Pierre, where she ‘upgraded’ Pierre’s expeditions-style camp into the beach-chic Masoala Forest Lodge of today, where equal emphasis was finally put on comfort as well as adventure.
Paula joined the Masoala Forest Lodge team almost 20 years ago in the early 2000s as a purchaser of provisions in Maroantsetra, a frontier town where the Masoala adventures start and end and where she and her husband live. Over this period, through her unfailing positive energy, enthusiasm and diligence, never mind her unflappable island grace, she has worked herself into the position of manager of all lodge operations in Maroantsetra. Amongst her myriad tasks, she is the smiling face of Masoala that meets all of our guests on arrival and facilitates their smooth transfers to and back from the lodge.
Having originally qualified as a Zimbabwean professional guide in 1993, Dave has now been chief guide examiner for the Zimbabwe Professional Guides Association for several years and thus oversees what is widely regarded as the continent’s premier guiding standard. Based in Victoria Falls, Dave is most at home in Hwange National Park and likes nothing more than walking the diverse terrain of the Camp Hwange concession in search of elephants and other wildlife with repeat guests. A keen wildlife photographer, Dave realised a lifelong dream in building Camp Hwange in 2010 and continues to guide here as well as all over east and southern Africa.
Growing up with a father who worked in the bush in the Gwayi area adjacent to Hwange National Park for many years it was perhaps inevitable that Washington was going to become a guide. Having joined Camp Hwange right at the beginning, ‘Washy’ knows the concession better than perhaps anyone else and has watched the genesis of the ‘Super Model’ Lion pride and their independent daughters, Tyra and Naomi, together with a series of impressive territorial male lions over the past decade. With a mentor like Dave Carson it is no surprise that Washy is also a keen photographer and loves spending time with Elephants at the concessions renowned logpile hides.
We love talking to past and future guests and helping plan trips of a lifetime, but we don’t take direct bookings.
Instead, we work with a wide network of specialist tour operators all around the world in order that our guests can liaise with someone in their own jurisdiction, time zone, culture and language to craft the perfect African expedition for them.
Contact us - We’d be happy to help design a trip and recommend a tour operator that is right for you.