Ex-army officer and heavily pregnant wife swap Swindon for Savannah

Ex-army officer and his heavily pregnant wife swap Swindon for the African Savanna to build their own safari lodge in Zambia – surrounded by lions, elephants and deadly snakes

  • Lyndon and Ruth Pinches left behind their Swindon home to move to Zambia  
  • A heavily pregnant Ruth has to cope in the heat while the lodge was built
  • They gave themselves just four months, but failed to make their deadline
  • Ruth gave birth in the UK returning six weeks later to see the finished results 

A couple determined to realise their dream of building a safari lodge swapped their life in Swindon for the African Savanna.

Ex-army officer Lyndon Pinches and his heavily pregnant wife Ruth left behind their creature comforts for a temporary two-man tent surrounded by lions, elephants and deadly snakes in Kafue National Park.

With an £85,000 budget they had set themselves the lofty challenge of building five en-suite chalets and a restaurant to host guests at £115 per night, filmed for Channel 4’s Our Wildest Dreams. 

But after four months of building, Lyndon and his team of builders failed to meet their deadline – and were forced to leave their lodge behind to return to the UK to have their first child.

In the show, which follows British families starting over in some of the furthest corners of the planet, Lyndon has to drop his target of five chalets down to two, which he manages to finish just in time for Ruth’s return along with their six-week-old daughter Indiana May.

Heavily pregnant Ruth joined her husband Lyndon on their new adventure as safari lodge owners in Kafue National Park, Zambia

The couple swapped their life in Swindon for a temporary two-man tent while they built their new home

Midway through the build the couple welcomed their first child Indiana, returning home to the UK leaving their lodge behind

Lyndon had set himself the challenge of building a restaurant with a 30m thatched roof along with five individual chalets for guests

But they had set their sights too high and were only able to finish two of the chalets, one for them to live in and another for their guests

Lyndon had taken voluntary redundancy from his role in the army and came up with the idea of the safari lodge, which his primary teacher wife was only too happy to support.

Passionate about their new career path they moved to Africa in April 2016 – when Ruth was five months pregnant with their first child – hoping to open the Pinches Lodge before she gave birth in August.

Her mother and midwife Jo admitted in the show that she wasn’t best pleased about her daughter’s decision to follow her husband into the African bush.

‘We were aghast. As a whim it seemed they were setting up a safari lodge and never seemed to be any more thought about it other than they’d enjoy it there. 

‘Why would you do that? You’ve got no experience, we were horrified,’ she said.

Unfazed by her family’s opinion Lyndon and Ruth sank every penny they had in to the lodge, which was surrounded by 100 acres of land and wildlife.

Lyndon had taken voluntary redundancy from the army and wanted a new adventure, coming up with the idea to launch a safari lodge

They sourced the land and in April 2016 they moved out to Zambia to monitor the building work

It was a slow process with materials in short supply, Lyndon had to make several 100mile trips to the nearest town 

But after five months of hard work – and a short break to have their baby – the Pinches were able to open their new business

They had built a restaurant and bar with a 30m long thatched roof at the centre surrounded by chalets

At the halfway mark they were considerably behind their target – with Lyndon under immense pressure to prove the pair had made the right decision to uproot them to the Savanna.

When the scheduled finish date arrived the team of builders were desperate to leave and return to their homes but Lyndon persuaded them to stay for four more days, paying them extra.

‘Four months was very ambitious to build five chalets and a restaurant with a 30m long roof… we set the bar very high.

‘I think I was very unrealistic about the targets,’ he confessed.

Initially their business plan was to include five chalets but time restricted the build and they had to scale back

Lyndon had to persuade the builders he had hired to stay an extra few days when the build ran over schedule – but they were able to complete it

The couple also took the decision to change Ruth’s birthing plan – sending her back home to the UK a month ahead of her due date.

With Ruth gone and on a tight deadline Lyndon had to reduce their five chalets down to two – but had to leave it all behind to attend the birth of his first child.

After spending a short time in the UK getting to know their young daughter Indiana, Lyndon returned to put the finishing touches to their new life. 

By September 2016, and just six weeks after giving birth Ruth returned to Zambia in time to welcome their first paying guests. 

Ruth reflected on her new life with her daughter and husband in the Savanna: ‘With all the terrorist attacks and life at the moment… It’s looking like a more appealing option.

‘She is going to have the most amazing childhood growing up in Africa.’  

Lyndon returned to the UK at the end of August to join his wife Ruth as she went into labour with their daughter Indiana

After meeting their daughter the couple made it back to Pinches Lodge in time to welcome their first ever guests

‘I’m proud of what we’ve managed to achieve in such a short time, if you look at where we were even at the beginning of this year, to this,’ Ruth added.

Lyndon said: ‘This time three years ago I’d come back from operations and you were a teacher. It just goes to show if you’ve got the drive and determination you can just do anything really.

‘I think we just wanted to do something exciting, we didn’t want to trudge along the same road because that was what everyone else was doing. We wanted to have a go fulfilling our own dreams.’ 

Since opening their lodge in September 2016, the couple have had more than 300 guests and have built one more chalet – and are now expecting their second child together.

Our Wildest Dreams returns on Friday at 8pm on Channel 4 

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