PARTNERS > PHIL WEST
To learn from Phil West exactly which twitch of a lioness’s tail signals an attack, the way a buffalo will scythe the bush in search of danger or how to pick up and follow a leopard’s spoor, is to be in the rarest of classrooms, one which reveals not only a man utterly in touch with his surroundings, but also the most inspiring of teachers, someone who imparts knowledge through story and action.
That this should be the case would come as no surprise to anyone who knows Phil West. Born in Nairobi, and brought up in Mombasa, Phil's formative years were spent either exploring nearby Tsavo National Park, or "free-diving for lobster, spear-fishing octopus or hand-line fishing for Changu." With a childhood passed in the company of animals, pets as well as wild species, it was no surprise when his plans to be a wildlife veterinarian were highjacked by a passion for tracking, initially developed as something of a precocious teenager and then formalised in South Africa, where he apprenticed under the legendary John Locke, ex-Selous Scout.
From there he quickly developed a reputation not just for his craft, but also for the extent of his scientific knowledge, the depth and speed of his thinking the perfect complement to a considerable skill-set. After forming his own company, and working throughout much of sub-Sahara Africa, Phil has been courted by television, presenting I Shouldn’t Be Alive for the Discovery Channel, and advising Bear Grylls in Man Vs Wild. He was made a partner at Royal African Safaris in 2009.
A hugely capable man, one as at home in the company of the great and the good as he is fixing the engine of his 4 x 4 Landrover, to safari with Phil is to enter into a world in which comfort is never confused with gold tap luxury, where what matters is great food, great wine and great company, a world where your experience of wild Africa is defined not only by location, or the experience of sleeping under canvas, but also by the interpretative skills of a man who speaks its language, who knows best how to move through and with it. "I pride myself," he says, "on the fact that no two safaris I do are ever the same." As said, an extraordinary individual, a true conservationist, a thinker and a doer.
Phil lives in Nairobi with his wife and business partner, Rachel, and their son Jackson.