PARTNERS > PETER SILVESTER
A guide, wilderness strategist and maverick thinker, Peter Silvester is widely regarded as being one of Africa’s leading wildlife experts, his pragmatic and unsentimental approach to conservation born of a lifetime spent exploring Africa’s remaining wildernesses. Peter often works with his wife, Julianna, on safari.
Having spent much of his childhood in the bush, and guided by an exacting and life changing apprenticeship under George Adamson and Tony Fitzjohn, Peter holds no truck with the notion that Africa’s wildernesses are for all. Citing Ngorongoro Crater as a prime example of the debilitating effects of mass tourism, his model for conservation is one of restricted and carefully monitored access – much like the one that has so far managed to protect the mountain gorilla. Africa’s wildernesses, argues Peter, are its natural heritage. They are rare, a valuable resource, and should, therefore, like any valuable resource, be properly valued.
As a philosophy, the idea of the properly valued wilderness informs everything Peter does. It means that visiting Africa’s wildernesses is not a number game, a list of destinations to be ticked off as done. Rather it is about the rare experience, an experience that opens the traveler not only to a new and extraordinary world, but also to himself. A pioneer of the customised mobile safari, Peter specialises in exactly this: safaris that change lives.
Central to this is his notion of the guide. The guide for Peter, like the guide of old, is the point about which a safari turns. He plans the safari. He leads it. He prepares his guests for every eventuality, the prospect of surprise, the possibility of something very significant occurring. He is practical. He is knowledgeable. He is interesting and interested. Such a guide "quite literally makes the safari." He is responsible for everything. It’s the reason why, together with a group of fellow guides, he established Royal African Safaris. A firm of super-guides, or partners, Royal African offers a safari experience that is as far from the idea of the luxury lodge as one can possibly get.
Peter is more than happy to acknowledge that his take on what makes a real safari isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. However, as those who have had the opportunity know, traveling with Peter Silvester is an unforgettable experience. His reputation for guiding precedes him, as does the manner in which he draws on his passion for Africa - its origins and cultural achievements - as a means of providing breadth and depth to the safari experience. ‘When you shake hands with a San bushman, know that you are shaking hands with your original DNA. It’s an honour.’ For Peter, Africa is a gift – to all of us. Look after it.
Peter lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. He is married to his business partner, Julianna, and has two children, James and Emma.
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