INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”
Andrea Mandel-Campbell

INTERVIEW: Origin story of new travel company karibu started with “a wake-up call”, says founder

TORONTO — Andrea Mandel-Campbell traded Toronto’s corporate jungle for the beautiful landscapes and wildlife in Ontario, B.C. and Italy – and now she’s inviting travellers along for her adventure of a lifetime.

The pandemic brought major life changes for a lot of people, including Mandel-Campbell. As she puts it: “I’ve been on a journey of my own, taking a radical departure from my career path to find a way to connect with what matters to me. I’ve not been afraid to try new things over the past 30 years; as a reporter in Latin America for nearly a decade, a best-selling author, and a television anchor. I’ve run for political office, and worked in Ottawa for a cabinet minister before moving over to Bay St. to consult to CEOs and start-up founders.”

It was while she was working on Bay Street that she had an epiphany, a life-changing moment that became even more compelling during the pandemic.

“I felt like I was in a version of the Netflix movie ‘Don’t Look Up’ – getting on the subway everyday while the world grapples with a climate crisis and mass species extinction due to extreme habitat loss and pollution,” said Mandel-Campbell. “We are at a planetary tipping point, and what was I doing about it? And then COVID happened. It was a wake-up call for many of us. And that thing that I would do at some undefined and convenient time down the road, became something that I felt I had to do now.”

In August 2021 Mandel-Campbell left her corporate job and got into a sea kayak off the coast of Vancouver Island, fulfilling her long-time dream to see orcas in the Johnstone Strait. “And after nearly a year of exploration – taking online courses, reading, hiking, meditating and listening to podcasts – I found what I was looking for. I decided to launch my own sustainable adventure travel company with a mission to share some of the world’s unique wild places.”

As she puts it: “People are going to travel, so how can we do it better? Through the destinations I choose, how the trips are designed, and who I partner with, people can connect with nature sustainably, and also feel that through the choices they make, that they are part of the solution.”

The travel company Mandel-Campbell started, karibu, is focusing so far on three destinations, with more to come. Travellers can choose from a fly-in canoe trip in Temagami, ON, with accommodation at a classic backcountry lodge with hearty home-cooked meals and restorative saunas. There’s also a sea kayaking adventure on Vancouver Island’s Northeast Coast. And in Italy, seven days of hiking, food and culture are wrapped up in an exploration of Alta Valsesia.

We wanted to know more, so we checked in with Mandel-Campbell to talk about karibu’s very niche approach to travel, what clients can expect, and what she wants travel advisors to know about the company.

INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”

Grizzly bears, B.C.


Travelweek: Congratulations on the launch of karibu. What led you to create this company? 

Mandel-Campbell: “Thank you! Yes, I decided to leave my corporate job during the pandemic, with the realization that I wanted to spend my time more meaningfully and doing something I really cared about. I felt I needed to do my part to contribute to sustainable solutions to protect and preserve nature and wildlife. I believe travel, done right, is one way ( The idea began in August 2022.”


Travelweek: Often tour companies try to keep their product very broad, to appeal to the most consumers possible. Karibu has gone the opposite direction, with a specific focus on nature, wildlife and Indigenous exploration. What was the thinking behind this niche approach?

Mandel-Campbell: “I think people are ready for a new way to travel. There is a growing cohort of people who are looking for raw and real, with a boutique but authentic feel. I think the pandemic accelerated what was already a growing movement. I also think its hard to create that curated and personalized kind of trip with mass market offerings. I wanted to create something that I couldn’t find in the market, but I knew people wanted.”

INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”

Telegraph Cove, B.C


Travelweek: How will karibu be getting the word out to travel agents about its trips?  

Mandel-Campbell: “We are planning to be selective with the agencies that we work with. karibu is a specific offering and we want this to be a win-win for us and partner agencies. We want to be aligned with agencies that appreciate what we are about as that will ensure that their clients will be happy as well. We are in the process of short-listing partners.”


Travelweek: What can travellers expect from a karibu trip? 

Mandel-Campbell: “karibu has a few foundational elements that we look to incorporate in all our trips. First and foremost we are about ‘finding wonderment.’ I know this sounds a bit corny, but it is the essence of what makes travel so special.

“Key to that feeling of awe is transforming one’s sense of time. We are all about time expansion – so we don’t do a lot of heavy scheduling. We aim for place-based travel where possible (no in and out of buses), and we like to provide people with a healthy balance of activity and free time.

“Our first trips are a week in duration, but that may be extended in 2024, depending on future departures. Our groups range from 6-12 and we offer scheduled as well as private tours.”

INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”

Temagami, Ontario


Travelweek: What can you tell us about the accommodation on your trips?

Mandel-Campbell: “We have taken great care to choose tasteful, well-appointed and locally owned lodgings that reflect the specific culture and history of the destination.

“Our Vancouver Island accommodation is owned by the local Indigenous First Nation, and is designed in the cedar wood style of a traditional Big House, with local art work throughout.

“Our Temagami, Ontario accommodation is a classic backcountry lodge. A former logging camp turned hunting and fishing camp that has been lovingly restored, the lodge combines rustic charm with newly updated amenities.

“As for Italy, our guests will stay at charming family owned lodgings chosen for their boutique size, comfort and quality accommodation. The townspeople in this village take great care to respect local tradition, and guests will experience that whether staying at an impeccably maintained historic inn or a new Baita that adheres to traditional building aesthetic, but with modern finishings.

“In short we are very picky about where we stay, we can’t stand bad taste and every accommodation is part of the experience.”


Travelweek: No doubt many visitors to Canada will be interested in karibu’s trips. Are you also marketing to Canadians who want to see their own backyard? 

Mandel-Campbell: “Absolutely! I spent ten years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America and have travelled widely. My takeaway is that Canada remains one of the world’s hidden gems. There are so many beautiful places to discover and explore and part of our mission is to bring them to Canadians.”

INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”

Lodge living in Temagami


Travelweek: Karibu pays 10% commission. That’s sure to get the attention of many travel advisors. Why is karibu interested in working with travel advisors? 

Mandel-Campbell: “I think the industry has really changed and evolved and I think travel advisors, like any consultant, are looking to deliver in a customized and personalized way, what their clients are looking for. karibu is in a specific but sought after niche with a unique product. With the right partner advisors, we can deliver a win-win-win.”


Travelweek: Is there anything else you want travel agents to know about karibu? 

Mandel-Campbell: “Three things. One, we are a mission-driven offering. Our mission is to share the beauty of the world’s unique wild places and help keep them that way through responsible and inclusive travel. Two, we are all about brand consistency. Every karibu trip delivers on our guiding principles and non-negotiables: high quality nature and wildlife, active exploration, rich cultural connection, and high quality but not exclusive offerings. And three, we believe we are the future of travel and will continue to add new destinations.”

More information about karibu can be found at

INTERVIEW: The origin story of new travel company karibu starts with “a wake-up call”

Otro, Italy

Get travel news right to your inbox!