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.