“A simply stellar safari experience! From the moment Tawanda, the manager, met us at the airstrip we knew we were in good hands.” – JSunFla (Source: Tripadvisor)
Whilst so much has changed at John’s Camp over the years, from the staff, to the location, there has always been one constant: Tawanda…
Born and raised in Harare (Zimbabwe’s capital), Tawanda’s love for the outdoors, and fishing in particular, started from an early age. He spent all his free time at a small dam called Gletwin where he caught the eye of legendary guide John Stevens who was also a keen fisherman and frequented the same spot. In no time they got talking and despite the age difference (Tawanda was only 8 years old at the time), bonded over their love for fishing. Unbeknown to Tawanda, his life was about to change…
Having never visited a single national park in Zimbabwe, Tawanda was over the moon when after several years of fishing together, John invited him on a family trip to Mana Pools to fish on the iconic Zambezi River! It was a dream come true for him, as he had learnt about it in school and could not believe he was about to see it in real life! This visit to Mana pools was the start of something special for Tawanda and the Stevens family that would span nearly two decades.
Tawanda had caught the safari bug and fallen hard for the magic of Mana Pools. He wanted nothing more than to be part of this amazing place and so with the help of the Stevens family, his dream soon became a reality when he joined the team at their very first camp back in 2009! It was then that he discovered yet another passion: cooking!
He started off as an assistant chef and quickly rose through the ranks to become the head chef, with an impressive repertoire including sushi which is always a crowd pleaser. Other dishes he loves to make include a slow roast lamb which to him is a real labour of love as it is something that requires time and patience, with the end result just as enjoyable as the process!
After over a decade of cooking up a storm, Tawanda was promoted to Camp Manager this year, which is a huge achievement from such humble beginnings. He’s had an amazing season and enjoyed the new challenges of the position but has not lost his passion for the kitchen and still gets very involved, whether the team needs his help or not! He’s a jack of all trades, undertaking all sorts of other tasks around camp from maintenance work to operations.
As if that wasn’t already enough on his plate, he is also currently studying to get his walking guide licence and aspires to get his pilot’s licence in the future too!
When asked if there were any dream destinations he’d love to visit one day, Uganda and Rwanda were at the top of his bucket list as he would love to see the elusive gorillas and experience a different type of safari.
Tawanda has a beautiful family back in Harare and had it not been for them, he probably would have had no desire to leave Mana Pools at all. It is home and he would not have it any other way!
It’s been an incredible season at John’s Camp and Tawanda and the team are looking forward to welcoming you to their slice of paradise next year.
John’s Camp will be opening it’s ‘doors’ in May. Here is a quick teaser on what you can expect from this authentic safari camp: Experience John’s Camp!