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Our History

History Gallery
A kid, a baby zebra and a baby elephant playing on the bank of the Luangwa River in Zambia

How it all began…

John was first introduced to the Luangwa Valley as a young boy in the 1960s…just a century after David Livingstone crossed the Luangwa on his final expedition. John’s father was surveying the Great East Rd and the family would join him and proceed to the Valley for long weekends. Thus, began a passion for the area that would last a lifetime. In 1984, whilst seeking work as a bush pilot, he was invited by Robin Pope to work as a Guide at Nsefu Camp for the season, an offer that he found irresistible. Carol joined him and together they have worked every season in the Valley since then. A few years after getting married, whilst running Wilderness Trails and based at Chibembe Lodge, (upstream of Tafika and no longer operational) Carol gave birth to their first daughter Christine. Just over a year later Jenny was born on the banks of the Luangwa at Chibembe.

The local community and Chief, eager to encourage development and job opportunities, gave John and Carol a prime site from which to develop their own safari operation. In 1995, together with their two young daughters, long-time friend and safari guide Bryan Jackson, an orphan elephant and two cats they took up residence on this virgin tract of Luangwa riverine bush and began to create Tafika. It was a family affair from the start with the girls being very much a part of the team, albeit just 5 and 6 years old. It was a unique and usually idyllic (sometimes fairly tough!) upbringing – Carol homeschooled the girls in the presence of pets ranging from an elephant, banded mongoose, night ape, grysboks, bushbucks, zebras, cats and dogs. During the rainy season the camp is totally impassable by road for 4 months, the only means of access being via a 2 hour journey in a boat, provided the Luangwa is flowing strongly enough to be navigable. During this time they had the opportunity to explore the river further afield and on one occasion the entire family canoed all the way to the confluence with the Zambezi River.

In 2018 Jenny and her partner, Nick Riddin, returned to join the company again which has now grown significantly to include the two walking camps at Chikoko Trails plus Mwaleshi and Takwela in North Luangwa, with an overall staff of around 100 people. In 2019 Mark McAdam joined the team as a new investor and director, bolstering the team for a bright and exciting future.

A truck driving on the flooded roads of Tafika Camp after the heavy rain in 1996
Staff members of Remote Africa Safaris with the Coppinger children, their elephant and their zebra

The Remote Africa ethos

The local community has been an integral part of the development of the company. Remote Africa’s ethos has always been to build camps with local materials and utilise local skills as far as possible. Being traditionally reliant on subsistence farming as a way of life, unless the communities derive direct and significant benefits from tourism there is little incentive to protect the wonderful wildlife that they share the area with. Consequently, apart from merely providing jobs, a great deal of work has gone into projects sponsoring education, building and supporting a clinic, developing a massively popular football league and supporting community tourism development projects. Almost all the wildlife guides are from the immediate area and have received their training from scratch.

1995
The Coppinger family splashing about with their elephant in the Luangwa River in Zambia

Small Beginnings

John, Carol, Bryan, the two girls, two cats and an elephant arrive onsite with all their worlds possessions, to build Tafika Camp. Remote Africa Safaris is born!

1995
A portrait of Bryan Jackson in North Luangwa National Park, 1995

Up North

In May Bryan heads up to the North Luangwa National Park to take over Mwaleshi Camp

1995
The welcoming committee welcome the first ever guests at Tafika Camp in July.

Welcome Guests

The welcoming committee welcome the first ever guests at Tafika Camp in July.

1996
A truck driving on the flooded roads of Tafika Camp after the heavy rain in 1996

Dancing in the Rain

The first river safaris commence from Tafika Camp. The heavy rains make moving around an adventure.

1997
Mphamvu leaves her home, Tafika, and goes north.

Sad Goodbyes

Mphamvu leaves her home, Tafika, and goes north.

2001
Chikoko Tree Camp is built on the west bank of the South Luangwa National Park, and Chikoko Trails is born. The girls head off to boarding school.

Chikoko Trails

Chikoko Tree Camp is built on the west bank of the South Luangwa National Park, and Chikoko Trails is born. The girls head off to boarding school.

2002
Crocodile River Camp is built on the west bank of the South Luangwa National Park, expanding the Chikoko Trails and our offering of exploring the bush on foot.

Trails Make Tracks

Crocodile River Camp is built on the west bank of the South Luangwa National Park, expanding the Chikoko Trails and our offering of exploring the bush on foot.

2006
Remote Africa Safaris first medevac. Jenny breaks her arm and is medevacced out in the microlight during the Emerald Season.

Micolight Medevac

Our first medevac. Jenny breaks her arm and is medevacced out in the microlight during the Emerald Season.

2007
The Luangwa River floods and our river safaris are discontinued.

The Great Flood

The Luangwa River floods and our river safaris are discontinued.

2008
In March of 2008 the family canoes the Lower Luangwa.

Luangwa Expeditions

In March the family canoes the Lower Luangwa.

2013
RASair, our Cessna 210, joins the company.

The Skies Open

RASair, our Cessna 210, joins the company.

2014
Year round Microlighting is discontinued at Tafika Camp but microlighting is still offered in May.

Grounded

Year round Microlighting is discontinued at Tafika Camp but microlighting is still offered in May.

2018
John and Carol’s daughter, Jennifer, and her partner, Nick, return to the Luangwa to join the team.

Family Ties

John and Carol’s daughter, Jennifer, and her partner, Nick, return to the Luangwa to join the team.

2019
Takwela Camp is built at the Mwaleshi and Luangwa river confluence in the North Luangwa.

Taking Off

Takwela Camp is built at the Mwaleshi and Luangwa river confluence in the North Luangwa.

2019
Mark McAdam, John’s long standing friend, joins the Remote Africa Safaris family as investor and director along with his children, William, Jack and Lucy.

Welcome Mark

Mark McAdam, John’s long standing friend, joins the Remote Africa Safaris family as investor and director along with his children, William, Jack and Lucy.

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