When most people picture a safari guide, it’s usually a man that comes to mind—as the majority are. But now, women who are equally passionate about wildlife, conservation, and tourism are joining the fray.

The first time I met safari guide Deb Tittle, we’d waded barefoot across Zambia’s crocodile-infested Luangwa River. Lions lay on one bank and hyenas on the other—admittedly, some distance away—and yet I felt weirdly relaxed. “A line of people in the water is unusual and crocs won’t know how to react,” she’d said. “They’ll leave us alone.”

Fast forward four years and I’m back in Zambia’s South Luangwa reminiscing about those crocs with Deb. A British woman in her mid-50s, she’s not what most people imagine a safari guide to be—and yet she went on to train over 60 Zambian guides. “When I started in the late 1990s, clients usually expected a cross between Harrison Ford and David Attenborough!” she says.

It seems little has changed since then. In 10 years of writing about Africa, I’ve worked with countless safari guides—but few have been women. In Zambia in particular, they’re seldom seen: Deb is an exception.