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MEET OUR MANAGERS

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Johanna Somses

Housekeeping Manager

I started on Okonjima in January 2005!!  After 12 good years at Okonjima,  I now have the position of managing the room/services staff,  which I achieved through hard work and commitment to the Okonjima long-term vision of improving oneself and reaching new heights.  I enjoy working with the Okonjima team and am grateful that my daughter had the chance to complete her primary schooling at the Perivoli Okonjima Country School as well.

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Jason Kombada

Manager at Bush Camp

In January 2007 my dream became true when I got a job at Okonjima Lodge as a kitchen general/assistant,  but was luckily when I was later promoted to a waiter and barman in August the same year. In July 2014,  I started training as an assistant manager and with hard work and dedication, I became a Bush Camp manager in 2015. I am so grateful to be able to continue my career with the beautiful Okonjima Family.  With this good team we never stop learning, and we are encouraged to set new challenges daily so that we are able to give the best service to our guests.

My favourite quote: “To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone”

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Tobias Koiti

Assistant Manager

2008,  I arrived on Okonjima and at first worked as a waiter and barman.   Then in 2011 Okonjima promoted me and I became a Receptionist, welcoming all our guests with my big smile.

2016 was a remarkable year in my career,  since my dream came true and I was promoted to Assistant Manager.

Okonjima made everything possible for me and taught me a lot. I really like my job,  specific being with guests, introducing them to the conservation work we do here and chatting about nature. I am very willing and keen to learn more in every aspects that Okonjima can offer me in the future. . . .

I have been working in the Tourism Industry for 7 years now. I do like meeting different people from different countries, telling them about Okonjima & AfriCat and about our beautiful country. I also like joking and entertaining our Guests ( . . . and colleagues)

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KONDJENI MARTIN DOESEB

F+B Manager

I was born in Omaruru,  a small town in central Namibia.

My career changed from a passionate chef to becoming one of the Kitchen and F+B Managers, when Okonjima gave me this chance to move up the ladder.

I started at Okonjima in 2001 as a chef at Bush Camp, where I worked for 8 months.  Then I went to Europe to broaden my horizons and returned to Okonjima again in 2010 as a Head Chef with a lot more experience that I gained abroad.

I have worked myself up to Kitchen Manager.  I love trying new recipes and dishes and teaching our kitchen staff new dishes.  Okonjima is my Home and Passion. My daughter, Elretha Hangara, also lives here and is one of the Okonjima managers. We are now part of the Okonjima Family!

My favourite quote: “Relax. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are living and Learning. Forgive yourself and grow from the Experience.”

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Sielona Grobler

Reservations Manager

I started with Okonjima in June 2010 and as a young receptionist had to work hard to prove myself.

I have since worked my way up to my current position as manager of reservations and I believe that my team is the best!

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Elretha Hangara

Lodge Manager 

Born in Otjiwarongo,  a small town in Namibia, I started at Okonjima in October 2012.  My career dreams changed from becoming a Teacher to working in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry.  I joined the Okonjima Team in 2012 and started out as a receptionist,  worked myself up and now am a Manageress at Plains Camp! My passion for the tourism industry grew stronger by the day. The team I work with is the best!  We learn from each other. The regular stream of guests who choose Okonjima are amazing and  they make my job even more interesting. The beautiful and peaceful Okonjima has become my home.

My Quote: “None of us, is as smart as all of us”.-Eric Schmidt

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ANGEL PIETERS

Bush Camp Manager

I have been working in the Tourism Industry since 2008, Tourism is my passion! I have completed courses in Tourism Management and Nature Conservation.

I started at Okonjima on 27.11.2015  . . . and am still going strong!

I came to Okonjima Lodge for the reason that it has both tourism and conservation!  I found my feet on the soils of this beautiful place, where my heart grew it roots deeper into tourism.

Being part of the Okonjima Team has taught me to learn the meaning of team. I learned that there is no ‘I’ in team.  Passion is what we share in everything we do.

My favourite quote:  “Challenges are what make life and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” –Joshua J. Marine

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Zanelle Lepen

Reservations

I started with Okonjima in May 2014 as manager of Bush Camp and loved what I did as well as the people I worked with.

I moved to Reservations in March 2016 and can now carry my passion forward by dealing with the private market as well as our large collection of travel agents.

Having grown up I in the bush I have always had a passion for animals as well as the tourism industry.

Okonjima is such a dynamic environment with a myriad of components, all working together for the good of conservation, tourism and education and I love being part of the works!

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Christel Swart

Reservations

I started in July 2014 as manager of Plains Camp for a year,  before moving to Reservations in August 2015.  I love what I do and firmly believe to not just exist, but to live!

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Schalk van Wyk

Lodge Administrative Manager 

I started working on Okonjima on the 27 April 2015.  I am a proud Namibian, from the beautiful town of Swakopmund.

My family has a cattle farm outside Gobabis in the Eastern part of Namibia and that’s where I spent most of my childhood.

I fell in love with ‘Hospitality’ when I was working in a hotel in Swakopmund as a Porter and worked myself up to a management position and that’s where I realized that I wanted to further my study in this industry.

Of all the directions in the hospitality field and subjects I could have focused on, I choose to be trained to be a private, Butler in South Africa,  thus detail and perfection is very important to me. With this knowledge, the hospitality trade accepted me very quickly and since I qualified I have worked in a few hotels and Lodges across Namibia and learned a lot about the dry, unique, landscapes of Sossusvlei, the historical town of Swakopmund and the capital of Namibia, Windhoek and now the conservation world of Okonjima.

Life is one big adventure  and with my bright smile,  I am always eager to welcome you here at this very special place called,  Okonjima!

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Erika Marceline Awaras

Lodge Manager 

Started working April 15th 2016

I started working in tourism almost straight after school . . . .  I remember my first interview was under a tree,  as my future ‘bosses’ got a flat tire and I was lucky as I passed by and met my first employer just by luck!  I never regret that day and I started as a waitress and “loved it so much”.  My journey in this field never stopped and for the past 15 years this is what I love doing!  I started at Okonjima in April 2016.   I ‘travel’ every day with different tourist,  learning different cultures, sharing their love and passion for Africa, mostly Namibia  – our pride.  What makes me happy in my work is when I make guest smile and they leave us happier than what they were on arrival . . . ready for their next destination “that’s my pride”.

I now have the incredible and humbling opportunity to join Okonjima team, experiencing every day different challenges that make me feel that I am finally growing up and am moving into another level.  I’m so impress with the Okonjima family with how much love and passion they share the ‘Okonjima journey’ with me/us…it’s my powerful new challenge that will never end.

My quote: “Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession”

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Esmari (Essie) Jacobs

Kitchen Manager

I started with the Okonjima team in August 2016!   I am a creative and ambitious young lady who grew up in the south of Namibia on a cattle farm!  With my friendly personality that loves baking, for me it’s like Art, Freedom of Expression, Precision, Care and Perfection.  Making people happy with my creations in the kitchen is what it’s all about for me.  I love seeing my inventions come to life in the kitchens even more when it’s enjoyed by the guests.  Working for Okonjima lets me take a step closer to my dream becoming reality.   “Everything worth doing can be done”

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Bianca Jacobs

Lodge Manager 

I started at Okonjima Lodge on 22 August 2016 – so I am ‘the-new-kid-on-the-block’  . . .  I love nature, wildlife conservancy and the bush, some of the million reasons I really wanted to work at Okonjima.  People are my passion and the reason why I decided to study Hospitality and Catering in the first place, with having 10 years’ experience, dedication, hard work and long hours in the industry and one attempt to leave it which obviously failed, I have come to realize ‘Hospitality’ stays in your blood no matter what and when AND when your Team is Happy, your Guests are Happy.

My Quote that I live by: ”Make every minute count, instead of counting every minute.”-Instinct AND “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes Life Meaningful”

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Kristina Reinke

General Manager for Okonjima Lodges

Born in Finland, I made my way to Namibia 23 years ago after spending 14 years in Germany where I studied economics,  focusing on tourism and export/import.  However, I ended up working for one of the biggest banks…not necessary my “dream job”.

I believe I had tourism in my blood as a young girl already –  since I was 12 years of age, my biggest dream was to become a tour-guide in Spain.  Somehow, I ended up further south than I thought…in Namibia.

Tourism & Hospitality & Conservation are my life and passion.

I have been working as a manager in various lodges in Namibia, all the way up to Zimbabwe.  Worked as a tour consultant in a few companies, as a manager for a car-hire company, as a tour-guide for few tours for Finnish agents, had my own tour operating company and worked for sales and marketing for a big tour operator called, Wilderness Safaris for many years.

I attended tourism expos like ITB in Germany and MATKA in Finland for several years with combination of marketing trips in Central Europe.

I am proud to be a part of Okonjima Team, which I joined in November 2016,  as I think it is a team making a big difference in many aspects: Conservation, Education, Hospitality, unforgettable Experience for the Guests and Caring for community.

I love what I do and do what I love. The courage to fulfill one’s vision comes from passion, not position