Meet the Founder

“For me, Barking Zebra was created out of a passion, a love… a true and sincere dedication to a land, a country, a way of life, and an almost unfathomable admiration and respect to a treasure that I felt and knew others must and should behold.”
~ Ria Francakova

Ngorongoro Highlands Trekking

I first visited Tanzania in 2008. Immediately, the country captured my heart and my soul. The warmth of the Tanzanians, the thundering herds of the Great Migration, and the splendor of Kilimanjaro quite simply took my breath away. I returned to Tanzania in 2009; and, spent the next two years trying to capture a way in which I could bring and deliver the beauty I envisioned to others.

As a life-long global traveler and travel industry professional, I have seen magnificent lands. I have embraced other customs and traditions. I have admired wildlife and vast landscapes. But, I have never truly experienced the raw passion and unequivocal love for an experience, a country, a conglomeration of people, like I did, and still do, with Tanzania.

In short, Barking Zebra was created out of an intense passion for a beautiful land. This intensity is solidified in every fiber of the company’s undertakings. The result is the remarkable delivery of not just an adventure, or some superb itinerary, but the result is the passionate guidance, service and assistance in creating: an adventure of a lifetime; memories to cherish forever; a dream come true; and, that sense of wonderment that I did, and still do, experience every time I step foot on the soil of Tanzania.

My emotional connection to this amazing land is unmatched. But, my emotion is coupled with a sincere dedication to those travelers ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. This is why I return to Tanzania at least every year for an approximate three to five month span. I train staff and our Kilimanjaro crew. I inspect new properties in the country’s national parks. I form new contacts. I utilize my addiction to this land to formulate and create new safari itineraries. All this is done for you…for your safety, your chance to behold true beauty, and your ability to experience something simply extraordinary.

Safari in Ruaha National Park

To date, I have enjoyed over 60 safari trips in Tanzania. I have trekked the Massai land. I have personally visited all of Tanzania’s national parks. I have summited Kilimanjaro. I have visited every lodge and safari camp that we offer to our guests. I have built a company catered to you; and, I have personally experienced every angle of it to ensure my hopes are precisely delivered…my hopes being a safe, memorable, inspiring, and breath-taking experience that will always go unmatched.

Karibu Tanzania,

Ria Francakova – Founder

Tom Wilson

Mountain Safety Director

Tom shoulders the ever important task of establishing and maintaining Kilimanjaro safety protocol. He is precise in details and particular in planning. Tom is a certified Wilderness First Responder and an outdoor enthusiast – holding a special love for hiking, rock climbing, surfing, skiing and swimming.

His passion for Mt. Kilimanjaro and his dedication towards safety have made Tom instrumental in shaping the climbing protocol of Barking Zebra. Tom is also a pretty darn good photographer. His search for the next composition has always directed him to beautiful landscapes and vistas. Tom’s passion for exploration is what ultimately led him to Tanzania.