Jo Ainscough

Jo on horseback

Jo joined Aardvark’s Scottish office in September 2006, fresh from two ski seasons. Jo’s passions include cooking, travelling, hiking and horse riding. She was a chalet manager in the Alps for two winter seasons, while the summers took her to the north of Scotland to cook for large house parties.  As a child, Jo was fully immersed in the Fife Hunt pony club, and also spent some time working with top eventers and racehorses. She also has a true love for animals, having grown up as a farmer’s daughter.

She put her cooking skills to good use on a two month sabbatical in Uganda and Rwanda where she was tasked with improving the food and sourcing new ingredients in some of the top lodges. A highlight of her time here was tracking mountain gorillas on three occasions – Jo is therefore an excellent person to talk to about holidays here as she can give you her own honest and unbiased advice.

In the intervening years Jo has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and is now a senior sales consultant at Aardvark Safaris.  She has two young daughters and can’t wait to introduce them to the wonders of Africa when they are a little older.

Favourite African experiences

Sleeping in a hide on the Boteti River in Botswana. There were elephant splashing around in the river and two prides of lion roaring to each other from opposite banks. I didn’t sleep a wink, but it was one of the most thrilling nights of my life!

Making it to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Having that sense of satisfaction, whilst seeing the sun rise up through the clouds below, has to be one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced.

Watching a pod of 50 dolphins swim in to try and help a seal who was being attacked by a sea lion, off a cliff on Robberg Island near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa.

Sleeping out under the stars of the great Namibian sky for 10 nights on the most fantastic riding safari. Despite sub zero temperatures outside, our rollmats and feather duvets (with hot water bottles) kept us more than toasty! Waking up at 3am to see shooting stars overhead will be something that stays with me for a long time.

Favourite African animal

Giraffe – I have always wondered what it’s like to be tall……they’re the complete opposite of me; tall, graceful and quiet.

Three favourite camps


Tsarabanjina off the north west coast of Madagascar, for its truly remote location, sugary white sand, warm translucent water, and amazingly romantic and private bandas.

Skeleton Coast Safaris flying over Namibia dunes

Schoeman Skeleton Coast Safaris’ Kunene Camp in northern Namibia. It’s on the border with Angola and is totally unique, simple and beautiful.

Sand Rivers Selous Sleep out

Sand Rivers in Tanzania’s Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve) for its exclusivity, wonderful river location and the sound of hippos from any part of the lodge.

African countries visited

Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Tropical Islands visited

Madagascar, Mauritius, Zanzibar

Riding experience

Wait A Little, Tuli Ride, African Horseback Safaris, Horizon Horseback Safaris, Ants Hill / Nest, Borana Lodge, Lewa Wilderness Safaris Unlimited, Sosian Lodge, Namibia Horse Safari Company.

I think the stand out for me would be swimming through the crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta, watching mating lion on horse back at Wait A Little, sleeping under the stars for 10 nights on the trot in Namibia and building up such a strong connection with my pony Rupert – the sense of satisfaction at reaching the Skeleton Coast at the end was incredibly emotional. And finally riding right up to a giraffe at Lewa Wilderness – so close I could see it’s beautiful long eyelashes.

On arranging holidays

There’s nothing better than speaking to guests who have just returned from a fantastic holiday.  It gives me such a buzz. There’s plenty of room for error when planning these trips so it’s essential to get everything absolutely right and that’s where the first hand-knowledge and attention to detail comes in.  I travel regularly, and though it’s a wonderful perk, it’s also crucial to help plan the perfect holiday.  I take a lot of pride in trying to make all the trips I plan the best they can possibly be, no matter how long it takes.  Making people happy is very satisfying.