Ian Batchelor: An Unyielding Love Affair with Africa

In the heart of Africa, where the wild thrives and the soul seeks solace, a remarkable journey began. Born in the picturesque landscapes of Nakuru, Kenya, Ian Batchelor was raised amidst the stunning beauty of Africa. At the tender age of five, his family relocated to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), marking the inception of his passion for the African wilderness.

His educational journey took him to the Universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Here, he collected a rich bouquet of knowledge, earning a B.A. Degree and an Honors Degree in International Relations, Strategic Studies, Industrial Psychology, and Languages. During this period, Ian also served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in a specialised Infantry unit within the South African Army.

After his university years, Ian embarked on a quest to deepen his connection with Africa’s wildlife. In 1991, he began training for his Zimbabwe Professional Guides License, a comprehensive guiding qualification recognized across the continent. This experience offered him a profound insight into the wilderness and kindled a lifelong passion for adventure.

Fast forward to 1994, Ian left Zimbabwe and took on guiding vehicle and walking safaris at Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in South Africa, further honing his skills. His journey then led him to Wilderness Safaris in Malawi and Eastern Zambia, where he held the Senior Guide position, catering to lodge management and guide training.

In the closing months of 1995, Ian joined Ker and Downey, one of the most prestigious photographic companies in Tanzania. He began as a Camp Manager/Guide and swiftly ascended to the position of Senior Guide in the Private Luxury Safari Program. During his fourteen-year tenure, he had the privilege of guiding special interest trips for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Smithsonian, and the Stanford Alumni travel program.

In 2004, Ian and his wife Nonnie decided to settle in Arusha, Tanzania to raise their son Lian Ray, before moving back to Zimbabwe, their heart’s home. Over the past decade, Ian has expertly guided private safaris throughout Southern and Eastern Africa. His experiences as Owners/Partners with African Bush Camps in Zimbabwe and Botswana have refined his understanding of the safari industry.

Beyond guiding, Ian’s artistic side shines through his wildlife photography. He is currently putting together a Photographic Journal of his travels and encounters with wildlife and communities throughout Africa. His passion extends to the written word as well, with a novel blending fact and fiction in the works.

In 2009, Ian, Nonnie, and young Lian embarked on a new venture in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. Developing and managing a new camp, they transformed this wild canvas into a stunning safari spot. Ian and Nonnie then branched out into the world of private guiding, using their extensive knowledge to start Upmarket Safaris.

Ian’s work as a Private Guide and Wildlife Photographer has offered him the unique opportunity to explore most of East and Southern Africa, learning about diverse cultures and peoples. Together with Nonnie, they create special safaris each year, providing unforgettable experiences for their clients from around the world.

In 2019, they initiated an exciting project in the Save Valley, an expedition camp that focused on tracking the Black Rhino population. Despite the Covid pandemic, they managed to raise substantial funds to support anti-poaching teams in the area.

Although initially hesitant about returning to Camp Ownership, a new and exciting opportunity proved irresistible. Ian was approached by business partner Mike Thorn to join him in transforming Deka Camp, purchased from Machaba Safaris in 2022, into Daka Plains. Their shared vision aims to create something unique in Hwange, a remote, wild, and private area.

Ian is more than a guide; he is a well-qualified naturalist with an extensive understanding of Africa’s flora and fauna. His passion for wildlife and Africa, his intimate knowledge of the continent, and his ability to share these with his guests make a safari with him a truly enriching experience. His work with an incredible tracker over the past decade further enhances the adventure, as they help guests spot game and track them on foot or by vehicle.

Ian Batchelor’s story is one of love and passion for Africa, its wildlife, and its people. His life and work reveal an unyielding commitment to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and a dedication to share the magic of this continent with the world.

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