We take great pride in our ability to weave a picture of Africa for our guests during a safari. From the diverse threads of flora, fauna, culture and history to folklore, politics and geography; all presented in a fun and undemanding manner. People of all ages say they feel more enriched and grounded‚ after one of our safaris, which we take as a great compliment.
How did you start out in guiding?
I always wanted a career that would involve beating about the African bush. I studied Geology at university because I wanted to be a prospector with a Land Rover exploring the remote corners of Africa. After my studies I ended up with a dream job working as a camera assistant to a wildlife filmmaker and that is where I started to get a good grounding in bushcraft and animal behavior. This coupled with growing up in a family which adored long camping safari expeditions to obscure corners of East Africa was a natural feeder to becoming a safari guide. My first guiding experience was at Sweetwaters rhino sanctuary on Ol Pejeta ranch where I worked as a game warden. I took a group of guests from the tented camp on a guided walk and realized that I love to share my excitement and love for the bush with others.
What’s your favorite place in Africa and why?
That’s a hard one! I love so many places in Africa because each is unique and special in its own right. I think that if you were to push me I would have to say Watamu on the Kenyan Coast. I have been visiting Watamu since I was born because my grandparents owned a house on the beach. I was married to Amanda on the cliff top at that same house and my father’s ashes were scattered at the same spot. Watamu boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it is my favorite place to relax and re-charge my batteries.
Have you ever been really scared on safari?
While I have been in some life threatening situations on safari, like the time an angry bull elephant tried to flatten myself and a honeymoon couple while we were on a game walk; at the time there was no room for fear. The situation required dealing with and you fall back on training and doing the correct thing. Afterwards, upon reflection, you can have the luxury to indulge feelings like fear! Honestly, I feel more anxiety in cities and built up areas than I ever have in the bush; there really seems to be more danger around humans than wildlife because, on the whole, wildlife behavior is easier to predict.
What three books do you recommend your guests read before going on safari?
There are so many great books I would also add:
What are the three most important pieces of kit for guests to bring along?
Good quality binoculars
An open and enquiring mind
What is your motto in life and what concepts are sacred?
You get so much further in life with a smile and not worrying about the little stuff.
Learn from the majesty of Nature and be appreciative of her gifts.
The concept of balance is sacred; nature only survives in a balance of life and death; drought and flood; the revolving of the seasons. Any excess can tip the balance and collapse the whole intricate framework, therefore helping to keep the balance is sacred.
Which rules have you made, which ones do you follow and which rules do you break?
I’m not one for making rules since rules create boundaries and limitations. Every new situation must be judged on its own merits and dealt with accordingly. The rules which I follow are those which ensure that man remains civilized and cooperative in society, but which allow the freedom of choice to follow one’s dreams and desires. The rules which I break are those which make no sense to me or others and which have no real merit.
What's your most embarrassing or comical moments ever on safari?
There are lots! I guess the one which still makes me red in the face was at the end of a long hot morning game drive in Samburu where we had been searching fruitlessly for a leopard. You could say that we were not as alert as we had been when I drove the Land Cruiser past a Sausage tree. One of my guests asked me how heavy one of those sausages are and I said ‘Let me show you!’ and jumped out of the car and stooped to pick up a sausage fruit. A small shriek let me know that something was amiss and I turned in time to see a leopard drop out of the tree and run off into the bush with a disgruntled growl! That’s one way (the wrong one) to find a leopard! Funnily enough almost exactly the same thing happened on another safari I was on in Botswana where the young guide driving us around jumped out of the car to show us a sausage from a Sausage tree and a leopard jumped out then as well.
Simon’s Reading List
Bush Recipe from Simon and Amanda Belcher: Coronation Chicken
Bush Recipe: Suppli Al Telefono
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