Private Guides

Roland Purcell


Something of an industry legend, Roland Purcell is a pioneering advocate of the kind of sustainable tourism that gave rise to both Journeys by Design and its sister charity Wild Philanthropy.

Born into a family of wondering scholars, educated in England, brought up in Benghazi, Vienna, Kathmandu and Belfast, Roland began life in Africa as an auctioneer in Nairobi, Kenya, after which he worked on Diane Fossey’s Mountain Gorilla Project, a life changing job, and one that turned him into a self-declared ape fanatic.

After cutting further teeth on several adventures into central and western Tanzania, Roland founded Greystoke Mahale on Lake Tanganyika, next to Mahale Mountain, where he went on to host and guide the likes of Bill Gates, REM and the late Robin Williams. Mahale possessing a life of its own, and the nearby cartload of habituated chimpanzee world-renowned, Roland established another camp at Lake Chada, in Katavi.

Roland divides his time between his farm in Donegal, Ireland, and Africa, particularly Ntakata in Tanzania, where he co-founded the Tongwe Trust, one of Wild Philanthropy’s charitable partners.

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