Our History

Robin and Jo, 1990

Flashback to Zambia in the early 1960s... a small boy named Robin, playing in the bush, running free with a fishing rod and binoculars. From small acorns, mighty oaks grow... from those carefree days an award-winning company rooted in responsible, sustainable tourism, has flourished.

Robin began work in 1975 with Zambia Safaris, and set to developing his bush knowledge and guiding skills. Keen to create his own company, his dream came true in 1985 with the creation of Robin Pope Safaris - Tena Tena Camp opened for business the following year.

In 1988, Robin's life changed forever with the arrival of Jo Holmes (whom he later married in 1991) who came to cater at Tena Tena for the season. The next three years saw a huge growth for Robin's safari operation; creating the now hugely-successful Mobile Walking Safaris, and opening of Nkwali Camp.

The next decade built on that early success with a new camp at Nsefu, then Luangwa Bush Camping (combining comfort with camping out in the heart of the bush) and finally the Luangwa Safari House.

Most exciting of all, a new partnership was created in 2006, when Robin and Jo joined forces with Molecaten, a Dutch company. Cees Slager, Molecaten CEO, had travelled extensively around Zambia and Malawi as a young man and always vowed to come back. To honour that promise, 27 years ago, he began a project to fund the Phalombe Hospital in Malawi. Keeping things in the family, Cees' daughter Margaux and son-in-law Ton de Rooy, moved to Malawi in 2006.


Margaux, Ton and family

Ton and Margaux met each other in 2001 in Groningen, The Netherlands where both of them were studying. Cees discussed with Ton and Margaux the possibility of setting something up that they could call theirs in Africa; after all it was their wish to become entrepreneurs. It was agreed that once Margaux had finished her Masters Degree, they would start their African adventure. Together they built Pumulani in 2008 and Mkulumadzi in Majete Wildlife Reserve opened in 2011.

While they were in the process of building Pumulani, contact was made with Robin and Jo to see whether they could work together. In 2006 an agreement was reached for Ton and Margaux to eventually take over Robin Pope Safaris in the years to come. Ton and Margaux learnt a lot from Robin and Jo during the three years that they worked together and are very grateful for the way this was handled.

In 2010 the RPS office was moved to Lilongwe where Ton and Margaux live. 2011 saw the addition of Luangwa River Camp, South Luangwa to the RPS family. Most recently they have welcomed Stanley Safari Lodge, Livingstone to the Zambian circuit.

Ton and Margaux have 3 children; 2 boys (Cas and Lex) and 1 girl (Elise) who all love visiting the bush and the Lake.

Fast-forward to 2017... the day-to-day running of the company is taken care of by Ton, Margaux and Rob Clifford; with Robin and Jo visiting the camps and guests from time to time. Robin Pope Safaris continues to grow with many more exciting plans being hatched, and Robin still leads safaris and loves to wander the bush...

  • 1951Robin was born
  • 1975Robin joined Zambia Safaris
  • 1980Robin became manager of Nsefu Camp which opened in July 1981
  • 1986Robin had left Nsefu Camp and opened Tena Tena – Robin Pope Safaris was born!
  • 1988Jo Holmes arrived from the UK to cater at Tena Tena
  • 1990The start of the Mobile Walking Safaris
  • 1990The first safari into Liuwa Plains
  • 1991Nkwali Camp was opened and Robin & Jo got married
  • 1992-1998Robin ran Robin Pope Expeditions with safaris to Bangweulu Swamps, Kasanka National Park, Nyika Plateau and Liuwa Plains
  • 1999Nsefu Camp was reopened by Robin Pope Safaris
  • 2004Nsefu Fly Camping (now Luangwa Bush Camping) was set up
  • 2005Luangwa Safari House was opened
  • 2006Robin and Jo went into partnership with Molecaten. Ton and Margaux became involved
  • 2008Liuwa Plain Safaris were set up again
  • 2008Pumulani on Lake Malawi was opened
  • 2010Robin and Jo stepped back from the day to day business. Ton, Margaux and Rob Clifford took over
  • 2011Luangwa River Camp in South Luangwa was added to the family
  • 2011In July Mkulumadzi in Majete Wildlife Reserve was opened
  • 2012Tena Tena was relocated and rebuilt
  • 2013Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone was welcomed into the RPS family
  • 2017RPS expanded their operations to Zimbabwe and John's Camp in Mana Pools was welcomed into the RPS family