Sossusvlei Desert Lodge Telescope

Storytellers

Meet the Storytellers

Chris Worden
Master storyteller

Chris grew up in some of the most remote parts of rural Zimbabwe, and its little surprise he became fascinated with the wildlife on his doorstep. He joined the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management in 1980 and worked his way up to Senior Ranger, in charge of Zambezi National Park near Victoria Falls. In search of a fresh challenge, he left National Parks in 1987 and spent time in Zambia guiding photographic safaris before returning to Zimbabwe to set up his own company, operating private walking safaris, in the Matusidona National Park. As a Private Guide, he has built up an enviable reputation conducting trips as far afield as the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Gabon, and still makes regular trips to Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Malawi.

Joss Kent
&Beyond CEO

Joss Kent joined &Beyond as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in January 2012. He was previously global CEO of Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), heading up their 61 international offices.

Joss has a wealth of travel industry knowledge and experience in managing large scale tour operations in the high-end market. He also has immense commercial experience, but most importantly shares &Beyond’s commitment to building an iconic brand that makes a positive difference to the conservation of land, wildlife and communities.

Prior to joining the safari industry in a leadership capacity, Joss Kent trained at the Royal Military Academy (Sandhurst) and served as a lieutenant in the British armed forces. Thereafter he worked as a business analyst, graduated with a Harvard MBA and spent two years as a management consultant with Bain & Co in the USA and UK. He re-joined A&K as Chief Operating Officer, then climbed the ranks to Managing Director and finally took up the post of Global CEO in 2010.

Joss has a deep understanding of Africa, having been born and partly schooled in Kenya, as well as working in Nairobi for three years. He also planned logistics and led various safari expeditions in Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire and Egypt for personal clients such as Bill Gates, Jimmy Carter and Gene Hackman. This personal experience as a professional guide underpins Joss’s decision making as it revealed the true essence of the safari experience and important symbiotic relationship between wildlife viewing, conservation and communities. This remains a core focus for Joss as &Beyond embarks on an ambitious plan to become the leading luxury experiential travel company in Africa and India, whilst remaining true to its founding ideals of “Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People.”

Passionate about kitesurfing, scuba diving and drawing, Joss is the father of three children, is a certified pilot and is fluent in Swahili and basic Spanish.

Ernst Mgonho
Africa Foundation East Africa Programme Officer

Ernst’s connection with &Beyond goes back to 1994 when he was working at &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge as a clinician. In 1995 he was allocated to work as the HR representative for the lodge and later for &Beyond Tanzania. In 2000, he was assigned as the lodge champion for Africa Foundation, where he was responsible for establishing relationships with neighbouring communities and implementing community projects funded by the Foundation.

In 2006 he joined Africa Foundation on a part time basis and was then permanently employed in 2008 as the organisation’s East Africa Programme Officer. Based in Arusha, Ernst oversees and manages all of the Africa Foundation projects in Kenya and Tanzania. He continues to maintain and build integral relationships with the rural communities of the region and assists with fundraising initiatives by closely working with &Beyond’s East Africa lodges.

Rob Johnstone
Astronomer

Rob Johnstone’s love for astronomy began in 1985 after seeing Halley’s Comet in the night sky. With no internet or computers available at this time, the library became his only source of information. Armed with some books, star charts, a pair of binoculars and a small 4-inch telescope, Rob’s journey began. He is now the only full-time professional astronomer based in Namibia and his passion is being able to share his more than 30 years of experience and knowledge while using the latest astronomical and astrophotographic equipment.

Rob is also recognised as an astronomy educator through the Universe Education Forum, a programme dedicated to bringing astronomy education to all, which was endorsed and accredited by both NASA and the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics from the period 2005 to 2009. Through this program, hundreds of school children, teachers and the general public throughout South Africa and Namibia are being educated in the changes to our Solar System. Rob is also an appointed lecturer at NATH (Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality) for the astronomy course and as also the preferred astronomy educator for SAASTA (South African Agency for Science and Technology Research in South Africa) as well as the National Council for Research, Science and Technology, NCRST, in Namibia.

Simon Saitoti
Africa Foundation Kenya Assistant Programme Officer

Simon was born in one of the remote areas of the Trans Mara district, in a Maasai village known as Saparingo, in Kenya. His school career started in 1993 and culminated with a degree in Environment Management in 2011 (during his studies, he trained at &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp as a receptionist).

After receiving his degree, Simon landed a position at Hooper Trust Africa as their Project Co-ordinator, before moving to the Kenya Airport Parking Services Company. In 2015, he joined Africa Foundation as their Kenya Assistant Program Officer where he is responsible for building and maintain relationships with the rural communities of the region and assisting in the implementation of community projects funded by the Foundation.

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