“Previously known as Sefofane Air Charters, Wilderness Air began operating in Botswana in 1991, with just one aircraft and servicing two camps in the Okavango Delta. We are proud to have grown significantly over the past three decades, successfully expanding to Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and in this way streamlining our guests’ journeys; making it easy for thousands of travellers to explore wilderness areas in some of the most remote regions in southern Africa”, noted Wilderness Air Botswana General Manager, Kago Paul.
In addition to connecting guests regionally through Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Livingstone, Zambia, Wilderness Air offers sole-use charter options to connect directly to Namibia. Passengers include local, regional and international travellers, as well as Okavango Wilderness Safaris staff members moving in and out of the company’s camps across northern Botswana. Wilderness Air also transports fresh produce to the remote areas in which Okavango Wilderness Safaris and other partners operate. In support of its non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness, the company has also given many children from rural areas their first magical experience of being in an aircraft.
All of this is made possible by a dedicated and experienced team based at Wilderness Air Botswana and Northern Air Maintenance’s headquarters in Maun. In line with Okavango Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with a light eco-footprint, Wilderness Air Botswana operates and manages all of its logistics on the ground with an environmentally-conscious approach. Northern Air Maintenance, in line with CAAB requirements, was bought in 1997 and formed part of the Wilderness Air Group, providing all maintenance for Wilderness Air Botswana aircraft and equipment, while also providing a Maun-based hub of excellence for maintenance of regional Wilderness Air fleets from Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Said Botswana Chairman of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, Kabelo Binns, “As two proudly Botswana businesses under the Wilderness banner, Wilderness Air Botswana and Northern Air Maintenance are not only impressive revenue-generating operations for the local economy, but also providers of numerous employment and training opportunities for Batswana – with the General Managers for both businesses being local citizens. We celebrate this growth and the impressive milestone of 30 years of operation as a proud partner to both of these operations”.
Kago Paul began his career as a pilot with Wilderness Air, flying the Airvan and Caravan, before growing into various management positions, including Chief Pilot/Safety Manager and Flight Operations Manager. After 13 years of service, being appointed General Manager was a proud moment for Paul, who now leads the company’s biggest aviation division. He continues to play an integral role in helping provide necessary aviation support for remote community donations to the Okavango Wilderness Safaris Conservation Heroes COVID-19 community relief programme.
“We are also proud to announce that Daniel Venter has been appointed General Manager for Northern Air Maintenance – our biggest maintenance division”, added Paul. “Daniel has also worked through the ranks to achieve this outstanding position, which is indicative of the company’s ongoing focus to grow local talent and support local business, and that through hard work and dedication it is really possible to achieve your dreams”.
Daniel started with Wilderness Air Botswana just after school in 2008, working as a porter on the apron. He then joined Northern Air Maintenance, and the business supported his university education to become an engineer. Growing in his role, from aircraft engineer to chief inspector, and now GM, Daniel’s growth story is not only a huge individual achievement, but a proud moment for the business.
“Wilderness Air has always been more than a connection – our scenic flights form an integral part of a guest’s life-changing journey with Okavango Wilderness Safaris. We remain committed to the company’s vision to make a positive impact, and look forward to growing our operation once the subsequent travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 ease. We are also focused on maintaining a reputation for steadfast operations and efficient schedules for our guests and staff, naturally whilst focusing on safety, compliance and risk mitigation at the same time”, concluded Paul.