Africa Born was created from our partners’ deep love and affinity for Africa’s wild spaces – and a firm hope that our guests will come to share our affection and respect for this precious continent. Both Sam and Paolo are third generation Kenyans and we work with a proud and dedicated Kenyan team, to ensure that all our safaris are ‘homegrown’ and utterly unique.
To the Maasai people who knew him as a boy, Sam Stogdale was always destined for a prominent position in the safari trade. The son of renowned Kenyan hotelier David Stogdale, Sam spent much of his formative years with the young tribesmen who were training to become lodge managers and guides under his father’s tutelage. His godfather was the legendary John ole Parmasau, who would go on to become one of East Africa’s most celebrated Maasai guides. As mentoring pedigrees go, Sam had few equals.
So it was no real surprise when, in early 2014, Sam was invited to become partners of Africa’s oldest existing safari company, Ker & Downey. Still in his early 30s, Sam is one of the company’s youngest lead guides – a huge achievement in one of the most competitive sectors of the global travel industry.
Since launching his own company, Africa Born, in 2011, Sam and his business partner Paolo, have established a reputation as one of the continent’s finest true ‘beach and bush’ outfitters. Sam’s specialities are the game-ruled plains of southern Kenya – and particularly the sweeping Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, considered by many the single-most important wildlife sanctuary on Earth.
It was in the Mara that Sam cut his teeth as a young guide: walking in the conservancies that line its borders, studying the Maasais’ legendary bush skills, fixing vehicles in rudimentary workshops. By the age of 15 he was a certified guide, and at 17, he travelled to South Africa to complete the definitive FGASA Professional Safari Guide course. Along the way, he also picked up advanced qualifications in trail guiding, birding and game tracking – making him, at the time, one of Kenya’s most qualified young guides.
Sam is usually accompanied on safari by his wife Antonia, widely regarded as one of the finest chefs in the safari business. Trained at Leith’s Cookery School in London, Antonia has helped many of Kenya’s leading camps and lodges – as well as several K&D partners – to train their chefs and design their menus. Her participation guarantees Sam’s guests the very finest fare to be had in the bush anywhere!
For a young guide, Paolo Parazzi has a surprising number of strings to his bow. A trained accountant, seasoned diver and boat skipper, this third-generation Kenyan is equally at home running safaris in remote and rugged bushland as he is leading long-distance kitesurfing expeditions, tagging green turtles, or free diving with black tip reef sharks. For visitors to East Africa who truly hanker for a balanced blend of ‘beach and bush’, there are few more qualified – or intrepid – hosts.
In 2014, Paolo and his business partner, Sam Stogdale, were signed up as partners of Africa’s oldest existing safari company, Ker & Downey. It was a testament to the levels of respect and trust that the pair have earned through their own company, Africa Born, that they went straight from junior guides to partners – bypassing what is usually a long and arduous process of qualification and mentoring.
Paolo grew up in Watamu on Kenya’s north coast, the son of an Ethiopia-born Italian businessman and a Sri Lanka-born English environmentalist. His mother’s strong conservation ethic was imbued in him from an early age, as he accompanied her to dozens of villages promoting sustainable fishing practices and raising awareness of endangered marine life. To date, the Parazzis’ Local Ocean Trust is credited with the release of over 10,000 sea turtles – many of them rescued from local fishermen’s nets.
In 2011, Paolo was one of the founders of the pioneering East African guide training school, EcoTraining East Africa, which has put more than 250 local guides through professional courses and delivered conservation training at most of Kenya’s leading safari properties. His unmatched knowledge of Africa’s east coast has established him as one of the region’s leading ocean-based guides, regularly sought out by professional water sportsmen, marine biologists and game fishermen. An extended period as a marine guide on Lamu Island also gave Paolo an unrivalled expertise in the ‘extreme’ kitesurfing and free diving potential of Kenya’s far north – as well as a prodigious ability to find dolphins keen to swim with his guests!
As a leader of a new generation of globally connected Kenyan guides, Paolo has spread his wings to lead exclusive private safaris across Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In the process, he has developed close ties with a number of celebrated conservation charities and their field staff, as well as strong friendships within several traditional Maasai communities – connections that add a compelling extra dimension to his safaris.