The Wild Bunch

Nine Stellar guides with new-school safari smarts—and a commitment to conservation—take adventure and altruism where they've never been before

Jan 4, 2007
Outside Magazine
Hot African Happenings

Sahara Marathon, Algeria (February 26)
Feel the burn (and the beneficence) on this run to raise money for 200,000 Saharawi refugees left homeless by war; a 10K, 5K, and children's race are also offered. $250 covers room, board, fees, and a small donation; —A.S.

Phil West
The Nairobi-based West, 31, who guided for Kenya's Lewa Wildlife Conservancy before striking out on his own, is as passionate about ethnobotany as he is about tracking leopards. His custom-designed East African safaris might include a six-day walk through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and two Masai areas, Il Ngwesi and Lekurruki Masai, plus rafting down Kenya's Ewaso Ng'iro River. Like most outfitters, West has arrangements with local tribes and parks, so nights can as easily be spent in a tent or a lodge and days spent ambling or driving.

Grant and Brent Reed
The two South African brothers, Grant, 32, and Brent, 33, come from a family of naturalists—which explains their safari savvy and bird and reptile expertise. (Grant has been collecting snakes since he was five.) Cofounders of Letaka Safaris, the brothers offer everything from walking safaris to birdwatching in Botswana. But for a triple shot of adventure, sign up for one of the nine-day Wildguides courses at their Okavango Guiding School. Participants of all skill levels learn how to handle rifles, track animals on foot, and find their way back to camp on their own, while becoming versed in geology, fauna, and conservation issues of the lush Okavango Delta.,

Endale Teshome
Born in Ethiopia, Teshome, 31, herded goats in the remote Bale Mountains until his teens. After guiding on his own, he joined Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris, studying his nation's ancient and cultural history along the way. If it's the vastly diverse flora and fauna of the south you want to see, that's his home turf. In the north, Teshome tours rock-hewn churches—places few foreigners have seen.

Craig Doria
South African Doria, 44, guided for ten years in Zambia, where he helped create an anti-poaching unit in the national parks, a passion he's carried to Tanzania, his current base. He's written two books about snakes and also collects DNA for wildlife research. His deluxe tented-camp- and lodge-based safaris, tailored to clients' interests, include hikes, driving, sailing, and more.

Derek Shenton
The third generation of his Zambian family to go into guiding and conservation, Shenton, 41, has built two camps, Kaingo and Mwamba, deep in the game-rich South Luangwa National Park, the launchpad for his guided walks and drives. The stylish Kaingo offers big-game close-ups. (Shenton's forte is tracking cats.) Three hours away by foot is the simpler but equally wild Mwamba. Shenton is a founding member of the South Luangwa Conservation Society, which fights poaching, offers job training, and educates children about wildlife.

Peter and Tom Silvester
The Silvester brothers, from Kenya, merge hipness with high ideals. Peter, 42, runs Royal African Safaris, an ultra-luxe outfitter operating in East Africa, Botswana, and South Africa. Frequented by celebs, CEOs, and royalty, RAS specializes in custom itineraries. (Guides usually visit clients in their home country to iron out details.) Guests stay in tented camps or at lodges like Loisaba, a 60,000-acre community ranch run by Tom, 39, who works it in tandem with the local Laikipiak Masai and Samburu and offers clients everything from mountain biking and camel safaris to rafting. A portion of the profits goes to wildlife research and the community.,

Corbett Bishop
Originally from Texas, Bishop, 35, moved to Tanzania in 1994 to lead trips up Mount Kilimanjaro and, two years later, started a safari company there, offering mobile luxury camping and camel- or donkey-assisted treks. Bishop's most recent project, the two-year-old Ol Tukai Conservancy, funds both community development and conservation projects; it's named for a village in a critical wildlife corridor between Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks.