Co-owner and Director – Wayo Africa
Catherine’s comprehensive background in communication, web technology and psychology, coupled with her passion for the wilderness, education and community upliftment, are the ideal tools to develop her next exciting chapter, helping to grow conservation tourism in Tanzania.
Catherine’s journey into nature began at a very young age, growing up on a Lake District hill sheep farm in the wild, northern reaches of England. She enjoyed daily safaris on the farm, and adventuring became a keen pastime, furthered by sailing holidays on the west coast of Scotland exploring the Outer Hebrides by sea, with routes often charted via a distillery or two.
She attended Casterton School in the Lancashire moors (famous for educating the Brontë Sisters very many years before), and completed her A-levels in Business, Information & Communications Technology and Geography, going on to graduate with a BA Honours from the University of the West of England.
After taking some time off to dive into the working world, Catherine attended Bath Spa University for a year and achieved a Post Graduate Certificate of Education with Qualified Teacher status. Teaching in some of the most deprived areas of south-western England, and humbly gaining the trust of families who had been so failed by education themselves, magnified Catherine’s skills in communication. After teaching hundreds of children to read and write, and to explore their potential, Catherine then went on to train and empower other teachers.
For a short while, leadership slowed when she took time out to start a family. But never satisfied with being idle, Catherine taught herself HTML and CSS coding in order to design websites. She continued to teach for another three years, but by then was ready for her next challenge, when she was presented with the opportunity to work with Charlie Morison at Campbell Bell Communications (CBC) in 2019.
CBC manages a portfolio of properties in Kenya and Tanzania, along with representing celebrity adventurers. Armed with the skills sets of communication, web and computer technology, and the psychology of how people think, Catherine readily took to marketing and representation. Catherine and Charlie developed a new division for the business called Green Travel Marketing, with Catherine developing new websites and branding for the company.
It was at this point that Catherine was introduced to Jean du Plessis and Wayo Africa in 2019 which was swiftly followed by a trip to Tanzania. Transported back to the wilds of her childhood, Catherine found the safari experience incredibly enlightening, and coupled with Wayo Africa’s commitment to education, empowering locals and a huge opportunity to make a positive impact, it was clear from that point there was no going back for her.
As COVID-19 took hold, the future of Wayo Africa seemed to be in the balance, so Catherine worked at intensely marketing Wayo Africa. She and Jean worked long hours every day for two years to set new foundations for the operation, preparing for when the world would travel again.
Over these years Catherine developed into a Tanzania safari specialist, her aim being to always provide unique experiences. In return for her commitment and positive impact at such a challenging time, Jean asked Catherine to join him as Director of Wayo Africa in 2020 and Co-owner in 2021.
Time during COVID was also punctuated by a wonderful project, Ride4Rangers, which Catherine was privileged to work on as a committee member. She ultimately helped raise over USD300 000 to support ranger training in Africa and safeguard conservation.
In 2021, through strategic employment appointments, Jean and Catherine were proudly able to start re-employing Wayo Africa staff. They re-opened their camps with new confidence, and were welcomed by a trade hungry for innovative, unique and adventurous wilderness experiences.
Catherine concludes, “Wayo Africa has a wonderful reputation within Tanzania. Both Jean and I, as well as the Wayo Africa team, are thrilled to join the Wilderness family, and look forward to extending our positive impact on communities in Tanzania through education and innovation, coupled with our love for protecting the wilderness”.