Meet Chris Tinkler from Ukama Travel
Chris is based in the UK and works as a consultant for Ukama, designing incredible trips for clients from all over the world who want to travel to Africa with us. He shares his story with us…
Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, I fondly remember our annual family holidays to the Kruger National Park, from the time I was five years old. It was always my favourite trip, the moment we would drive through the park gate, en route to our camp. The charm of the bush resounded strongly with me. I loved the fact that anything could be around the corner, and I enjoyed looking for shapes in the grass that might reveal a hidden predator. Elephants were always interesting, especially in a self-drive scenario where reverse gear was often put into action. Of course I now know that plunging frantically into reverse isn’t always the answer.
Even though I spent every July school holiday in the bush, after completing high school I was unaware that I could have followed a career out there. I did what most people did back then, studied for an IT qualification and headed to London to live, work and find my feet.
While watching an IMAX theatre documentary about Africa, all my childhood memories rushed back and that was it, I wanted to get back home and pursue my new dream of working in the bush.
I found work as a trainee guide, at a reserve in the greater Kruger area. I then progressed to guide in South Africa, qualifying as a trails guide and also gained camp management experience.
I had always dreamed of working in some of the wildest and most remote areas in Africa, maybe I read too many Wilbur Smith novels! After a few years working in product and sales, for some very reputable safari companies, the bush called me back. A note about me, I am a nightmare to hike with, I always want to see what is ‘just up that last hill’, and exploring Africa has only further fuelled that trait. I ran camps and guided all over the continent, from the Masai Mara, to Kruger’s far northern Pafuri section, and Ruaha National Park in Tanzania, before moving back to the UK in 2018.
I joined Wilderness Safaris for the first time in 2007, and found myself combing the beaches of North Island for turtle tracks as the Deputy Conservation Officer, before moving on to Shumba Camp in Kafue National Park, where I was one of the Managers, and guided from time to time. Almost 15 years later, I am truly thrilled to be a part of the Wilderness Safaris family once again, working with the awesome team at Ukama, and am excited about the journey to come!