MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
Women behind the magic
MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
Founder | Adventurer | MD
Before founding Encompass Africa, Jonathon “Jono” Wilson’s CV covered just about every safari-related job and discipline you could think of: overland guide, staff trainer, first aider, business strategist, safari specialist. On top of that he’s driven, flown, peddled, paddled and hiked all over the continent. It’s no wonder he dreamed of being able to share his beloved Africa with the world via his own safari holiday company.
Born and bred in Johannesburg, South Africa, Jono fell in love with the safari life at an early age, thanks to adventure-loving grandparents who took him on regular jaunts to Kruger National Park.
After university, where he completed a Bachelor of Marketing, majoring in Commerce, Jono joined the corporate world before quickly realising that his heart belonged to the bush. Craving adventure, he began working as a guide, taking groups on long overland trips across Southern and East Africa. It was on one such tour that he met the Australian woman who was to become his partner in business and life: Danica. They met, fell in love and moved to the UK, all within the space of a few months.
After learning more of the travel trade at Flight Centre in London, Jono received an incredible offer to help set up an innovative new travel company offering safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean. It was an exciting time and strengthened the foundations for Jono to do something similar with his own safari company. Which is exactly what he did when he and Danica moved to Australia in December 2008.
Six months later, Encompass Africa was born (with a couple of children being added to the mix in the years after that!).
The company recently celebrated its 10th birthday, a testament to Jono’s vision and the much-loved and respected business he, Danica and their team have created. For Jonathon, an African safari is all about adventure that excites, challenges and rewards. He and his team genuinely care about their guests and go out of their way to ensure all of the experiences they recommend are not only the best that Africa has to offer, but also help contribute to the future of the continent.
Encompass Africa’s charismatic leader is famous for his epic storytelling skills, hilarious sense of humour and, above all, love for Africa. Integrity, honesty, knowledge, passion and expertise are traits he values highly – plus he likes everyone to have fun along the way!”
Check out Jonathon’s top tips and best momentsTop tips Best moments
Leader | Guest Services | Creative
Brisbane-born Danica Wilson has an impressive CV. With a Master of Business and Bachelor of Arts under her belt, she’s worked in leisure, entertainment, tourism, the arts and creative industries, as well as for local councils and government bodies in Australia and the UK.
Africa has been her world since 2003, when she quit her job in Brisbane, sold her house and took off on an overland adventure. “Life-changing” is a term used often in association with travel, but never has it been more appropriate than when describing Danica’s incredible trip. Because it was here that she went on an overland tour from Johannesburg to Nairobi, fell in love with the guide (a certain Mr Jonathon Wilson) and then moved with him to the UK just a couple of months later. The rest, as they say, is history.
During their time in the UK Danica had some truly rewarding roles, including marketing manager of a theatre company in the Scottish Highlands. Back in London she worked as Marketing Manager with Arts Council England’s Creative Partnerships program, testing the impact of the creative industries on learning in disadvantaged regional schools, and then as the Director of the Creative Industries campaign at Make Your Mark, an entrepreneurship program for young people.
After five years and loads of travel, Danica and Jono headed to Australia in order to realise a long-held goal and launch Encompass Africa. Their dream came true on 1 July 2009. Today, Danica’s considered one of the ‘well-versed’ professionals in the industry, and is the driving force behind the company’s marketing vision. Like all of the Encompass Africa team, she’s dedicated to the principles of ‘exceptional service’ and loves nothing more than working with guests, learning everything about them and their ideas for a dream African getaway. Then her competitive streak kicks into gear as she sets about creating the ultimate safari holiday itinerary that blows all expectations out of the water.
Now a mother of two young children, Danica is also an expert at planning family holidays in Africa and loves nothing more than going on safari with Jono and their two little ones.
Check out Danica’s top tips and best moments
Africa Specialist (Brisbane)
Born in South Africa, Gen lived just outside of Johannesburg for the first four years of her life before moving to Melbourne, Australia.
She and her family returned to South Africa every year for holidays with her grandparents, who owned a game reserve in the Greater Kruger region.
Nothing, according to Gen, beats growing up with a fine appreciation for the bush and its wildlife. Her uncle was a proud guide, so she got to enjoy many fascinating and fun game drives, and she would soak up every bit of information shared by her cousins on endless bush walks.
When an opportunity arose to work in the Africa travel industry, Gen, of course, said yes. After six years working as an Africa travel specialist in Melbourne, she decided to move to the Sunshine State, where work took her in a different direction for a few years.
She longed to return to a job where she could help people live their dream of experiencing a safari holiday, which led her to Encompass Africa where she’s been able to indulge her love for “getting away from the crowds” in remote, off-the-beaten-track locations.
Places like the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, where she fell asleep with a herd of buffalo congregating under her room (which was on stilts and right on the edge of the crater!).
Gen looks forward to sharing her experience, passion and enthusiasm for Africa, and designing an itinerary that will bring your safari dream to life.
Check out Gen’s top tips and best moments.
Africa Specialist (Sydney)
Born and raised in England, it was during Stephanie’s studies for an Anthropology degree at Edinburgh University that she travelled to South Africa and, as the industry calls it, got bitten by the ‘Africa bug’. With her degree completed but before any job-searching could begin, she and two friends headed off to East Africa on a 12-week backpacking holiday.
They had very little planned, apart from climbing Kilimanjaro, and flying in to Nairobi. From there they headed off on their first safari – four days in the Masai Mara in a beaten-up old van.
They had a tent with no light or mattress, frankfurters were served in some form at every meal and there were no showers, but they had amazing fun and saw incredible wildlife, and this trip remains one of Stephanie’s most treasured memories. Though she probably wouldn’t repeat it again.
They did manage to summit Kilimanjaro – entirely under-prepared, but unfazed – and it was one of the best six days of the entire trip. Having seen the Serengeti from the summit they then headed there for some more camping and safari fun, before finding themselves on the island of Zanzibar, snorkelling, diving, sunbathing and never wanting to leave.
Now that Stephanie has worked in the luxury side of travel, she sees how differently it can be done – and wholeheartedly recommends a few upgrades! But that trip showed her that your first African experience will never fail to impress, and it really will plant a seed to make you want to return again and again.
Since her backpacking days, Steph has spent a lot of time travelling in Africa for both pleasure and work (albeit the work trips are never a chore). She then started working for one of the best luxury operators in the UK, before moving to Australia (via Africa, of course) and joining Encompass Africa.
By this stage Stephanie had already been in the industry for six years and thought her knowledge was pretty good. But that was before she started working at Encompass Africa which, she says, has more exacting standards, in-depth knowledge and commitment to customer care than any other place she’s encountered.
Her work has been elevated, and she’s taken things to an entirely new level when it comes to the guest experience. Since Stephanie’s first holiday in Africa, the level of luxury has definitely been upped with every subsequent trip – and she never complains when a cup of hot tea is brought to her tent at 6am before a game drive! But Steph firmly believes that the experience is what you will remember, not the thread count of your sheets (although she admits a certain pillow in Botswana was the best she ever slept on) and that people who are open to trying new things and trusting in recommendations from Encompass Africa will never regret it. Every person is different and it’s clear, even from her own experiences, that one size does not fit all. With this in mind, Stephanie approaches each itinerary with fresh eyes and with the goal of creating a trip that will ensure you want to return to Africa many times in the future.
Check out Steph’s top tips and best moments.
Growing up on a farm in Queensland’s beautiful Darling Downs region ignited Katie’s appreciation for the natural beauty of the land.
Katie also developed a love for history and culture, and it was while on a school trip to the United Kingdom that she was really bitten by the travel and adventure bug.
This fascination for other countries, and the unique history and sights they have to offer, prompted Katie to attend the University of Queensland to study political science, graduating with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and History.
Her degree furthered her interest in travel, and helped Katie make her way to the amazing team at Encompass Africa in early 2016 – where she’s also been bitten by the African safari bug, after travelling in South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Katie works with Danica on the Guest Services side of things, and supports Encompass Africa’s team of safari specialists.
She’s committed to making sure the lead-up to your departure is effortless – just like the actual adventure that the team will have created for you.
Katie and the rest of the team are always there to answer questions, and are just a phone call away (or email, Skype session or drop-in visit!).
Check out Katie’s top tips and best moments