Our Journey Magicians are our ‘engine room’, quietly working behind the scenes to ensure all aspects of the Ultimate Safaris operation run smoothly and cohesively. This includes helping guides make sure they are fully prepared for guest arrivals, checking and maintaining our safari vehicles, producing the necessary information packages for specific safaris, and running our own fully-serviced camps.
The Cowley family has been involved in tourism in southern Africa for over
two decades. As one of the pioneering families in the tourism field in Namibia,
the Cowleys (Clive and Doris) produced the first in-depth travel guide for
Namibia in the late 1980’s, setting an unprecedented benchmark for others to
follow. ‘The Namibia Guidebook’ (now called ‘Clive Cowley’s Journey into Namibia’)
was the first tourist guidebook which offered both visitors and potential
visitors an in-depth account of this great country.
Having a true love and passion for the natural environment, Tristan
followed in his parents’ footsteps and founded Tou (meaning ‘Elephant’ in the
Lozi language) Safaris in 2003, specializing in naturalist guided safaris to
Namibia. In 2008 Tou Safaris merged with another like-minded safari company to
form Ultimate Safaris, which has grown to be one of Namibia’s most renowned
naturalist and specialist guiding safari companies.
Tristan is married to Stefanie, who is a lawyer in Windhoek, and
together they have two sons called Dylan and Joshua. He has a passion for photography
and developing tourism in Namibia in a sustainable way, to ensure benefit for
Tristan’s life in the natural environment and tourism began as a
teenager working as a river guide in South Africa, guiding canoe and kayak
safaris on 3 different rivers. After school he moved on to manage one of
Africa’s finest camps, Wolwedans, where he became a specialist desert guide. He
then studied Natural Resource Management (Nature Conservation), where after he
completed both the National and Hunting Guide Qualifications and was assigned
to lead exclusive safaris in southern Africa for leading safari operators.
Tristan is a Namibia specialist, but has led safaris in South Africa, Botswana,
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
In his early guiding years, Tristan also worked as a field researcher,
conducting field research on two sandgrouse species as well as the newly
described endemic black mongoose. He has had numerous research papers published
in learned journals as well as popular publications. Tristan has also spent a
fair amount of time as a lecturer at NATH (Namibian Academy for Tourism and
Hospitality), lecturing young and aspiring safari guides.
Having served as the chairman of TASA (Tour and Safari Association of
Namibia), vice chairman of NATH (Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality),
on the executive council of FENATA (Federation of Namibian Tourism
Associations) and the advisory council to the school of natural resource
management at the University of Technology in Namibia, it is fair to say that
Tristan is a well-known and respected personality within the Namibian tourism
Tristan was also the founder of the Conservation Travel Foundation, a
legally registered non-profit trust which has been established to assist humanitarian
and conservation initiatives in the areas in which Ultimate Safaris operates.
He is one of the trustees for the NATH Education Trust, another legally
registered trust which is responsible for granting bursaries for up and coming
aspiring safari guides in Namibia.
Since its inception, Ultimate Safaris has grown to a team of over 80
staff, so Tristan spends most of his time running the operations, as well as doing
the marketing which involves extensive travels to Europe, Australasia and North
America, as well as more occasional visits to South America. However, he still finds
time to guide the occasional specialist or specific repeat groups, so continues
to engage in what is his real passion.
Sport, traveling, socializing and photography.
Why I enjoy guiding
It’s not a job, it’s a way of life…
Having spent many months in the field on my own (mainly during research
expeditions) the most humbling experience for me was coming face to face with a
leopard at very close range on a narrow ridge in the Erongo Mountains. The encounter happened when I was coming
around a blind corner on a mountain ridge and I suddenly came across, and woke,
a large sleeping male leopard. The
leopard got to his feet instantly, staying stationary and staring straight at
me. He then took four steps toward me,
before grunting and then turning around, making off in the direction I was
going (the path was narrow so there was obviously no way past me). I was able to stand and watch him walk away
from me for about 200 m, before he disappeared around another corner. Having had a sufficiently memorable encounter
for that day, I turned around and decided to go back the way I had come!
Life Enriching Journeys
Our camps are conservation impact investments, pioneering environmental sustainability, community development and conservation. Our philosophy is that the investment into our camps should be moderate from both a financial and environmental perspective, ensuring sustainability on all levels without the pressure of having to recoup large financial investments. This keeps the focus on re-investing revenue into conservation and the provision of Life Enriching Journeys through offering stays as part of truly unique experiences.