PARTNERS > SIMON BELCHER
Simon "Si" Belcher is every guide’s super-guide. A one-off, Si started out in Tsavo East, Kenya, as camera assistant to the wildlife documentary maker, Simon Trevor, where the solitude, the bush and the opportunity to hone skills learnt in the company of his parents served as the perfect apprenticeship for becoming what he is today: a champion for the preservation of Africa’s wildernesses, successful safari outfitter and one of the industry’s most respected guides.
Si may have spent the majority of his childhood holidays traveling the wilds of northern Kenya, and gone on to work as assistant warden at Sweetwaters Rhino Sanctuary, manage the very remote Grumeti River Camp, help usher in the superb Borana Lodge and then set up Simon Belcher Safaris, but it is to this period of his life, and to Tsavo East itself, that he owes what he calls the "reawakening" of his love for the bush. It was, as he says, the making of him."‘I left college at a loose end, went into film, and it was through film that I met Simon Trevor. It was there that I found myself. I became a man." Tsavo East is Belcher’s self-proclaimed spiritual home.
Given this, it will come as little surprise to learn that Si’s notion of the guide is all encompassing. For Si, the guide is exactly that which brought him, in 2012, to taking up the offer of partnering Royal African Safaris: it’s a way of being, which in Si’s case means having something like a total understanding of what it is to be a responsible human being. Hence his interest in the origins of man, in the rise and fall of civilisations, in what he calls, after the ecologist Garrett Hardin, the tragedy of the (unregulated) commons, in knowing that "only Africans can save Africa."
This is why Si’s heroes are the likes of Sammy Leiseita, Samburu ex-goatherd, Harvard postgraduate and conservationist, or friend James Ole Kamete, who started the now thriving Kenyan Esitete Primary School under the shade of an acacia tree. It is also why he believes managing our wildernesses means enabling partnerships between their major stakeholders: the local community, landowners, national government. Easy, then, to see how important, for Si, the guide as facilitator, as a "conduit" for experience, for happenings, for creating what many of his traveling guests would describe as being journeys that have changed your lives. One of the most generous and self-effacing men you could hope to meet, he is the consummate safari maker.
Simon lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. He is married to Amanda, also his business partner for the last 20 years. They have two children, Sebastian and Phoebe.
Read what Simon's past guests have to say in his Guestbook.
Browse some of Simon's best photos in his Photo Gallery.
Follow Simon and Amanda on Facebook and Instagram.
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