Your tour leader

What is the role of a tour leader?

A tour leader is the trip's concierge - someone always on hand to be sure that all is going as swimmingly as possible during your trip.  They are there to address any concerns, issues or problems.  They can act as intermediaries between the guests and the managers of the hotels / lodges / restaurants, ensuring that specific needs are properly attended to. 

While a tour leader is not a guide or local interpreter, they may be able to bring added dimensions to your understanding of a place.  On our trips, each of the destinations we will visit will have their own stable of experienced professional guides, intimately familiar with the ecosystems we will be exploring.  They will accompany you an all the outings, ensuring you get the most out of your outings.   


Dr Karen Ross  [1]

Karen was born and raised in Kenya. She has a doctorate in wildlife ecology from Edinburgh University, carrying out her PhD research in Kenya under the supervision of the famous elephant zoologist, Dr Iain Douglas Hamilton.   She was hired by Hugo van Lawick (renowned wildlife film maker - and Jane Goodall’s former husband) on a filming job which led to her work with the BBC, producing the book “Okavango: Jewel of the Kalahari”.  The book was first published as a companion to a BBC three part documentary of the same title.  

Karen’s subsequent work in the Okavango Delta was part of critical conservation activities in Botswana, including the protection of the Okavango Delta from mining threats and upstream water withdrawals from Namibia.  She led the NGO pressure to curtail the proliferation of fences in the Okavango region (fences are harmful to the movement of wildlife), co-founding a forum between different government ministries and between government and civil society. 

During decades of conservation work in Botswana, mainly with Conservation International, it became clear to Karen that overarching protection for the Okavango Delta would be given through UNESCO World Heritage designation, considered by experts to be long overdue. From 2007 Karen motivated the Government of Botswana to consider this important listing. From then she collaborated on this effort with the Government of Botswana, Okavango communities, national and international conservation NGOs, the tourism sector and numerous other stakeholders, including government authorities in neighbouring Namibia and Angola.  

She was a lead editor of the World Heritage nomination dossier[2].  Thanks to this lengthy and intense work, the Okavango Delta finally made it on to the World Heritage list in 2014.  Karen's relentless efforts at conserving this iconic wilderness has led to her being crowned "The Champion of the Okavango" in the National Geographic magazine.

Once you’re booked on the trip, Karen will become your main contact point with CNH Tours.  She’ll be answering emails and helping you best plan for your time in Africa.  

 Karen in an Okavango Delta mokoro

[1] For more on Karen’s background, see: 

[2] The complete dossier contains fascinating information.  It is a huge file, but well organized.  You can find it here: