ASSOCIATE PARTNERS > STEPHEN CUNLIFFE
Born in South Africa, Steve exudes an unquenchable enthusiasm for Africa’s wild places. With a deep-seated passion for wildlife, he is at his happiest when learning, understanding, interpreting and sharing the fascinating stories and secrets of the African bush.
After spending a couple of years in London where he completed his schooling at Harrow, Steve returned to sunny South Africa and enrolled in a four-year Honours degree in Environmental Economics. Graduating in 1999, he was offered a position as an apprentice ranger and trainee guide at the prestigious Royal Malewane Game Lodge in the South African Lowveld. Three years of comprehensive training and mentoring saw Steve develop a deep respect for nature and sensitive approach towards wildlife, along with outstanding interpretative skills that culminated in him attaining his FGASA level 3 SKS guide’s licence (Southern Africa’s highest field guiding qualification) in 2003.
Yearning to explore and discover the ‘real' Africa, Steve embarked on a five-year off-the-beaten-track African adventure that saw him drive the length of Africa’s west coast, immersing himself in Africa and exploring some of the continent’s most remote game parks along the way. Having survived a near fatal bout of malaria in Timbuktu, Steve relocated to Uganda for a couple of years where he set up a new safari lodge, pioneered the country’s first Big 5 walking safaris, and trained local safari guides in the picturesque Kidepo Valley National Park.
Swapping remote northern Uganda for the ubiquitous elephant and buffalo herds of the idyllic Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, Steve then embarked on a three-year stint as a walking and canoe safari guide on the wildlife-rich Zambezi River before India stole him – albeit temporarily – from Africa once more.
Steve’s three years in India allowed him to explore the country’s top tiger reserves as well as publish a coffee table book, India Whitewater, on the raftable rivers of the Indian Himalaya. While working on these projects, Steve found time to complete a Masters degree in Wildlife Management and develop a highly successful sideline career as an internationally published photojournalist, specialising in nature conservation, wildlife safaris and adventure travel. Steve’s stories and images frequently appear in prestigious publications such as the Royal Geographical Society’s Geographical magazine, Africa Geographic and Travel Africa, as well as over 30 other prominent travel, airline, conservation, diving and 4×4 magazines.
Returning to the land of his birth in September 2011, Steve adopted a three-pronged career path, operating as a private safari guide, environmental consultant and conservation photojournalist. In addition to guiding his safaris, a major focus became the Sisheke Conservation Project in southwest Zambia where, as project manager, he was involved with rehabilitating and conserving a massive tract of fragile African wilderness that’s a critical wildlife migration corridor within Africa’s largest conservation area: the five-country KAZA transfrontier park. Steve then enrolled on a joint MBA programme at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in the USA.
Upon graduating in June 2015, Steve landed his dream job as Executive Director of the Singita Grumeti Fund in Tanzania making him directly responsible for the 200-strong team that manages and safeguards the 350,000 acre Singita Grumeti Reserves concessions in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem.
Although Steve now resides at Grumeti with his wife Katherine and sons Charlie and Ollie, his work schedule still affords him the opportunity to privately guide a handful of safaris each year during April, August and December. Steve’s extensive Africa-wide experience, in-depth bush knowledge and natural aptitude for interpreting and sharing the bush, form the foundation of a highly competent and engaging private guide with excellent organisational and interpersonal skills. He has the rare ability to tailor an inspiring safari experience to meet the expectations and knowledge level of each and every group of guests. Quick to smile and with a good sense of humour, Steve is a patient teacher, easy-going companion, passionate storyteller and dedicated trip leader.
This widely travelled outdoorsman is equally at home whether leading a walking safari, conducting a canoe trip, guiding underwater (he’s a fully qualified PADI scuba-diving instructor), or camera in hand on a photographic safari…
Follow Steve on Instagram, Safarious, and his blog.