Category Archives: Staff Stories

The story of Kennedy Ilunga

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At Ichingo Chobe River Lodge, we’re just as passionate about making our guests feel at home as we are about sharing the exceptional wildlife and natural beauty of the region.

Right at the heart of our passion for hospitality, is our talented staff who truly love what they do. And no person is more dedicated to his role than Kennedy, our Front of House Manager.

Kennedy Ilunga - Host at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Meet Kennedy

Kennedy is one of the first people you will see when arriving at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. His bright smile is infectious and makes you feel instantly welcome as you step onto the deck.

While Kennedy loves every part of his job, meeting guests as they arrive is definitely his favourite. He puts all his energy into his work, and it shows in everything he does.

“There is so much more to giving than receiving. The more time, energy and love I provide to my guests the happier I feel.”

Kennedy has the lodge’s previous owner to thank for his position here. They met while working at another lodge in Katima Mulilo, and so began his journey to the dream job he has today.

Kennedy Ilunga - Host at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Getting to know him

The story behind Kennedy’s name comes from his father who worked in South Africa as a miner. While working there, many of the miners used English names, and Kennedy’s namesake was a friend of his father’s.

Fit and healthy at 59 years old, Kennedy is a firm believer in the importance of exercise. He is an avid runner and often goes for jogs through the beautiful natural surrounds.

Amazing experiences

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge has a privileged position on secluded Impalila Island along the Namibian side of the Chobe River. As such, it affords guests unparalleled opportunities to spot a myriad of wildlife up close in their natural habitat − from elephants quenching their thirst on the banks to rare birds perching in the branches.

When asked about his most incredible sighting, Kennedy recounts an occasion where a crocodile attempted to eat a python. The python was very large, and it turned out the crocodile had bitten off a bit more than it could chew! He says it took an entire day for the croc to complete its meal.

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

A word from our guests

Kennedy gets plenty of praise from our guests who all love his warm personality and friendly smile. Here are just a few of the many compliments he has received to date:

“At Ichingo Chobe River Lodge we had a marvellous time as Kennedy and his staff were fantastic. Kennedy has a wonderful way with people.”

“Kennedy was always on the deck with a refreshing drink or a glass of sherry when we arrived back from our boat ride in the evening.”

“Kennedy was a fantastic host.”

“The welcome we got on arrival at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge by Kennedy was to set the scene for the rest of our stay.”

“Thank you to Kennedy for looking after us so well.”

“Kennedy is so welcoming! His huge smile and enthusiastic waving proves how much he loves his job. We really enjoyed getting to spend a few days with Kennedy and his amazing staff.”

From his exceptional hospitality and genuine warmth to his unfailing dedication to excellence, Kennedy represents everything we stand for at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge. And we’re very proud to have him on our team.

Kennedy Ilunga - Host at Ichingo Chobe River Lodge

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is located on secluded Impalila Island on the Namibian side of the river. This haven of natural beauty and serene luxury features eight air-conditioned Meru safari tents, each with their own private balcony with spectacular views over the river. Visit our website to discover more about Ichingo Chobe River Lodge and the unique area that surrounds it. 

The Story of Ernest Sikanda

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Like many of the staff who work for the Zambezi Queen Collection, Ernest Sikanda grew up in a small village on Impalila, an island at the far eastern tip of Namibia surrounded by the waters of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. And when we say small, we really mean small. Impalila has a population of 3 000 and is just under 18km in length.

Impalila Island

Ernest is one of our staff members who is most recognised and thanked by our guests for making their stay so memorable. What many of our guests don’t know is that Ernest, despite his humble beginnings, studied hotel management internationally at West London College in Mayfair, Central London.

Ernest Sikanda

Ernest was the first host on the first Chobe Princess way back in 2004 and since then has become an integral part of our guests experience on the houseboats. Having grown up on the banks of the Chobe River, Ernest has extensive knowledge on the many varieties of birds (over 450 to be exact), game and fish species in the area. If you want to try your hand at tiger or bream fishing, Ernest is your man!

Chobe Princess - 2004

Ernest’s most memorable sighting was when he came across a fight between a crocodile and a python, an epic saga which lasted days and ended with a jackal saving the crocodile. While this may sound like the start of a children’s fable, it is a true story. The crocodile literally bit off more than it could chew when it killed a snake four times longer than itself and proceeded to swallow it. Realising half way through it’s meal that it couldn’t bite through the snake, the crocodile accepted its fate and sat on the banks of the Chobe River waiting to die. Luckily for the crocodile, a jackal came to its rescue and ate the other half of the snake. We’re sure there’s a life lesson in that story!

Chobe Crocodile

While we’re on the topic of life lessons, Ernest’s advice for would-be travellers? Keep clear of hippos, while they look chubby they can easily outrun a human. He would know, he was attacked by one while fishing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first profile in our collection of staff stories dedicated to the passionate people who work alongside us. You can stay up-to-date with the latest stories from our beautiful part of the world by signing up to our newsletter below or following us on our social channels.